luis alfaro

ArtsWatch year in theater 2017

From "Astoria" to "The Humans" with a whole lot in between, a month-by-month stroll with ArtsWatch through the year in Oregon theater

From Portland Center Stage’s Astoria: Part I (Part II is streaming around the bend in January, along with an encore run for Part I) to Artists Rep’s The Humans and a slew of holiday shows, it’s been a busy, busy year in Oregon theater.

In Ashland, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival rolled out another season blending contemporary and classic with a wide-angle world view. And the fine actor G. Valmont Thomas, after spending a season playing Falstaff in all three plays in which the great character appears, died in December from bone cancer, at age 58.

In Hillsboro, Bag&Baggage, which had been temporarily homeless, opened a spiffy new home in a renovated downtown former bank building.

In Portland, the sprawling Fertile Ground festival introduced dozens of new works (and, like Astoria, is gearing up for a fresh new run in January). Chris Coleman, Center Stage’s artistic director for 17 years, announced he would be leaving at the end of this season to take over the theater at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. TCG, the influential Theatre Communications Group, held its annual conference in Portland. And theater companies large and small produced more plays than The Count could count in a dozen seasons of Sesame Street.

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Oregon Shakespeare Festival gets a new playwright in residence

A $303k grant from the Mellon Foundation will be used to hire Luis Alfaro

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has nailed a $303,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation to fund a new resident playwright position for the next three years.

The company’s playwright will be Luis Alfaro, who worked with OSF artistic director Bill Rauch at Cornerstone Theater, according to the OSF press release. Alfaro also wrote “Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner,” which was produced at OSF in 2008.

Luis Alfaro, Oregon Shakespeare Festival's new playwright in residence

Luis Alfaro, Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s new playwright in residence

“Luis’ appointment as OSF’s first-ever Resident Playwright is a major event in the life of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival,” said Rauch in the press release. “OSF’s founder Angus Bowmer, inspired by the example of William Shakespeare, first articulated the dream of a resident writer many decades ago. The idea has gathered momentum as the Festival has increased its commissioning and production of new work in the 21st century. Luis has a vital, poetic, adventurous and ambitious voice as a dramatist. He is also one of the most charismatic ambassadors for the art form of live theater of anyone I have ever met. His impact on our company, our audiences and our community will be immeasurable. I am especially grateful for the Mellon Foundation’s unflagging leadership in our field for this residency and many others that put writers at the center of theater companies—where they belong.”

Alfaro also writes fiction and poetry, and he received a MacArthur Foundation genius grant in 1997. His plays, often set in LA’s barrios and dealing with gay and lesbian issues, include “Bitter Homes and Gardens,” “Pico Union,” “Downtown,” “Cuerpo Politizado,” “Straight as a Line,” “Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner,” “No Holds Barrio” and “Black Butterfly.”

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