Fertile Ground 2013: Intro to the Fun House!

A few provocative quotes from the productions that will make your head spin...

Susan Mach's "A Noble Failure" has already gotten Fertile Ground off to a good start./Owen Carey

Susan Mach’s “A Noble Failure” has already gotten Fertile Ground off to a good start./Owen Carey


Before Fertile Ground started in 2009, I thought that Portland was having Creativity Crisis when it came to new performance work. Maybe “Crisis” is too strong a word. How about “Miasma”?

I knew lots of playwrights and choreographers were here working on new stuff here, but so little of it ever seemed to reach our mainstages. Then Fertile Ground started and so did a bunch of new companies, and then the city’s more established companies began to pay more attention to this activity. And now instead of a Creativity Miasma we have a Creativity Explosion.

Was it cause and effect? I guess I don’t think anything is THAT simple. But when the history of this particular period is written (if in fact the culture is still thinking in terms of “history,” not to insert any pessimism into the proceedings), those intrepid cultural historians will rightly cite Fertile Ground as an important, even crucial, factor in turning things around here.

6727812097_c97a2f222eThis year’s festival, which starts officially today and runs through Feb. 3, is a nice combination of full-scale productions of new work at our major theaters (Sue Mach’s “A Noble Failure” at Third Rail, for example or her “A Lost Boy” at Artists Rep), full productions of new work at smaller theaters (“R3” at Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble, say, or “4 X 4=8 Musicals” by Live On Stage), or staged readings and workshop productions of a wide range of material by a lot of producing groups in a lot of different places.

Why should you go? Because new work is so exciting, so unpredictable, on a knife’s edge between triumph and disaster. Als because you understand that supporting new work is crucial to a healthy theater ecology, in particular, and healthy culture at large.

Where should you go? Goodness knows I have NO idea. This is new work, and the best of it can come from almost anyone at any time. I could tell you the names I recognize or shows I look forward to seeing. But really, that describes my own history and taste more than it suggests a path through the Fertile Ground forest of shows for you.

What would help? How about a line or two (or a description of a scene of dance) from several of the productions at this year’s festival? (We’d also advise picking up the festival’s slick program, visiting its website, and looking for our reviews and previews right here at ArtsWatch.)

A.L. Adams has been asking producers to supply a line from their shows for a few years now, and you can read these tea leaves as you like. 


Fertile Ground Speaks For Itself 2013:
Quotes from the upcoming theater fest, in (some) particular order

“God’s Away on Business.”
(Living the Room, SubRosa Dance Collective)

“Clothed female naked male.”
(International Falls, CoHo Productions)

“We’re going to hell.”
(Exit 27, by Aleks Merilo)

“I’m an honest man. If I tell you it’s a wonder, you never have to wonder if it is.”
(The Seven Wonders of Chipping, by C.S. Whitcomb)

“The only real death per se was Old Pneumonia Nelson and I, for one, saw that coming.”
(Ribbons of War, by Minus Dan Productions)

“See how the middle-aged patron stands aghast, trying to blend himself into his surroundings?”
(Whipping Cream and Freudian Dreams, by Kate Horn)

“I hate Yerba mate. It tastes like dirt without the nutrients.”
(The Sweatermakers, by Andrew Wardenaar)

“Young Man, I disapprove of violence of any sort. But if you don’t stop insulting this poor woman…you deserve whatever these people do to you.”
(Lying in Judgment, by Gary Corbin)

“By the way, don’t believe them when they say you can’t take it with you.”
(Ladies Room and Where Are We Going? by Susan Faust)

[A woman sprawls on a lawn chair amongst a forest of painted plywood trees and cardboard house plants.]
(A House To Call Our House, by Layla Marcelle Mrozowski + Julia Calabrese)


“You got a conscience? Quiet will gnaw on a conscience.”
(“The Lost Boy” by Susan Mach)

“I know you Method boys like to eat the scenery, but if you’re not real careful, that fellah there’s gonna wind up eatin’ the whole f*ckin’ studio.”
(Marilyn/MISFITS/Miller, by Rich Rubin)   

“Just not sure I can eat anything named Craig.”
(The Candlestick Maker, by Emily Golden)

“What did you put in those staples!?!”
(Doing the Cockroach, by Andrew Shanks)

“From forth the kennel of thy womb hath crept/A hell-hound that doth hunt us all to death”
(R3, by PETE)

“Sometimes the animals are nicer than the people.”
(FERAL, Homelessness in Portland, by Bruce A. Hostetler)

“You are many things, Loki, doer of good, doer of evil, but the one thing you are not is a fool.”
(The Witch of the Iron Wood, by Evan Lewis & Claire Willett)

“My eyes rolled along her curves like runaway bowling balls about to sink into the gutter.”
(Umbrella for Three, by Brad Bolchunos)

“You haven’t got a Whatsis. You haven’t got a Hoo-hah either. Neither do I. We’re both Whatsis and Hoohah-less!”
(Men & Women in the Dark, by Benedict Herrman)

I can’t keep the boys that I like best, cause a fish and a bird can’t build a nest.
I am not the girl of your dreams, cause I’ve got scales and you’ve got wings.
(Fish-girl, by Bathtub Theatre Company)

“Would somebody please stop asking questions about somebody else’s ex?”
(The Exes, by Gary Corbin)

“Popularity stabs me in the back!”
(Stories: From the Trenches of Middle School, by the Lunatic Fringe kids of Lane Middle School)

“I smell the pillow after you’ve spent the night cause it smells like your head.”
(Oh F*ck, Oh Sh*t, It’s Love: The Musical, by Samuel D. Dinkowitz)

“They spent six days in Lubumbashi, then chartered a plane to Kananga. From there they were supposed to travel to Inongo in Bandundu Province.”
(Night Breezes and the Ballerina, by Heath Hyun Houghton)

“We used to be the ‘City of Roses’ … now we’re the ‘City that Works.'”
(Rain! The Musical, by Richard Moore and Monte Merrick)

“No place lacks vulgarity, but the vulgarity of Coney Island is of a special kind, friendly, with a tolerance that says, ‘I play my game and you play your game.'”
(Taster’s Choice, Jewish Theatre Collaborative)

“That’s what you were going to do, isn’t it? Paddy was gonna murder Bobby, then you and him were gonna stage a coup and take over the family. Kill me and Bill, and take over the whole family!”
(THE GODMOTHER, Sandra de Helen)

“She might appreciate it.”
(Hail! by Sally Sun Bear)

“Raising kids is like being pecked to death by a duck!’ ”
(Finding the Lost Spark, by Sue Ellen Liss)

“We’re alive in our own time,we need to live in our own time,we need to love in our own time, we’re only here for a short time.”
(Something’s Got Ahold Of My Heart, by Hand2Mouth)


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