Last weekend, Boom Arts launched its first-ever Global Voices Lab for International Plays in Translation, a staged reading series that the company hopes to make annual. In defiance of the hugely overblown storm warnings, a small but earnest audience clustered into Lincoln Hall’s Studio Theater for a reading of Elfriede Jelinek’s Jackie on Friday; then a marathon on Saturday consisting of Joned Suryatmoko’s Picnic, Sedef Ecer’s At The Periphery, and Luis Alberto Leon Bacigulpo’s The Captive. An encore performance of Jackie on Sunday kicked off at the Super Bowl-friendly but otherwise unusually early hour of 11:30 a.m. (with complementary coffee and bagels).
Next weekend will bring a different selection, Lara Foot’s Fishers of Hope and Zainabu Jallo’s Onions Make Us Cry, at a different venue, the PCC Cascade campus. Wisely, Boom has chosen to present the two African plays alongside the Cascade Festival of African Films.
So how is it?
Illuminating. Diverse. Challenging to many Portlanders’ current body of knowledge and range of experience … which is to say, worthwhile.
“These are perspectives that are rarely expressed on Portland stages,” says Boom curator/producer Ruth Wikler-Luker. “These plays allow us to plop ourselves into different cultural contexts.”
When planning Global Voices, Wikler-Luker curated via connections rather than submissions, reaching out to her network of theater producers around the world to get recommendations and find works that spoke to her. She wanted the works to be distinct from one another in tone and theme. She wanted each to feel timely. And most importantly, she wanted to choose plays that make their own statement about the world.