Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Overheard in Oregon

(Kevin, Karl, PJ, Sarah, Aaron, and Andy are gathered around a tense game of billiards at a bar called The Life of Riley.)

ME: Man, I just put $5 in the jukebox. I hope I hear at least one of my songs before I leave.
KEVIN: I saw a tranny fight in the record store today.


ME: Go on.
KEVIN: Well, let me just say ... it's bad enough to be near a pissed-off person with a dick. But a pissed-off person with a dick and tits ...

Portland Center Stage used to be an armory. Having just seen the splendid Major Barbara at the Shakespeare Theatre's Harman Center two weekends ago, I had to marvel at that conversion. For everyone who fantasizes about a day when one B-2 bomber gets pawned to bankroll the NEA for a half-century ... look no further. It's not just a theatre, it's also a paragon of green technology. They recycle the rainwater off the roof. The toilets offer a "half-flush" option. Everything operates on a body sensor so no kilowatt goes unused. And for such a cavernous facility, the temperature floats at an almost amniotic level of comfort.

Each room bears some trace of the brutish superstructure of the original building. George Hunka has a live web-cam of Vienna's Burgtheater -- "a theatre surrounds/embraces a city." I'm guessing George used those words to denote more than geographic proximity (which makes his recent comments about how a theatre might fail America somewhat curious -- especially for someone who has opined about the civic duty to fund theatre). And when I step foot in The Gerding Theatre pictured above, I think about more than childhood parables of spears hammered into plowshares. I think, shit: if Portland suddenly became a strategic target, the theatre would outlive the Bankcorp building.

Keeping with the 21st century zeitgeist, PCS does interactive video interviews with cast and crew members which are then uploaded onto YouTube. Click on the sidebar above to hear from some other folks who have worked here. I have nothing to report and everything to report. There are few times when the story you get to tell has a concrete bond with the people surrounding (and, sometimes, embracing) it. Workshopping columbinus in Denver for a week came close. But for all the concrete and glass that shields our production, one hunts for a more ... organic ... metaphor to capture the comradery engendered by Kesey and Posner's Sometimes a Great Notion. As I've said before, the fourth wall isn't gone -- it's just a few feet behind the audience. And the other three are being used, too.

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