Portland Playhouse 2014-15: August Wilson to Mr. Burns

The King neighborhood company's new season continues its Wilson cycle

Roy B. Ayers, Mujahid Abdul-Rashid, and Rodney Hicks in "Jitney". Photo: Brud Giles

Roy B. Ayers, Mujahid Abdul-Rashid, and Rodney Hicks in “Jitney”. Photo: Brud Giles

Portland Playhouse’s 2014-15 season starts with another of its productions of August Wilson—in some ways their series of excellent productions of Wilson’s work has given the company a signature in the community—and then departs for lands unknown, including a provocative collaboration with Sojourn Theatre.

Why subscribe to a company’s season? Easy. It means the company can spend more of its money on actual productions and less trying to track down elusive single ticket buyers! And it’s a vote of support. We’ve already posted the seasons of Artists Rep, Portland Center Stage, and Oregon Children’s Theatre (see below), both for your information (mostly) and because subscribers are so important to any performance-based art organization (almost as much).

Portland Playhouse is a little theater (fewer than 100 seats)  in the King neighborhood, 602 NE Prescott, in the heart of the old Albina district, once the heart of the city’s African-American (and immigrant) community. Under founding artistic director Brian Weaver, it has taken that past and the transitional present to heart.

Now, on to next season.

  • The Piano Lesson, by August Wilson, Sept.-Nov. The Wilson plays at the Playhouse have featured the city’s excellent African American actors, and here, they’ll take on Wilson’s Pulitzer winner set in 1936 Pittsburgh, where Boy Willie Charles comes home with the idea of selling the old family piano so he can buy the land his ancestors once worked as slaves. (In the first production in 1987, Samuel Jackson played Boy Willie.)
  • A Christmas Carol, adapted by Rick Lombardo with music by Anna Lackaff, December. Portland has its share of Christmas Carol spoofs, but theater-goers responded positively to the Playhouse’s straightforward version last year.
  • How to End Poverty in 90 Minutes, conceived and written by Michael Rohd, devised by the cast, January-February, 2015. This is a Sojourn Theatre production, and Sojourn has been making audience-engaged, politically involved, collaboratively created work since its founding in 1999. This production invites the audience to consider poverty in America and concludes with an audience vote on how to spend $1,000 to help.
  • The Other Place, by Sharr White, March-April, 2015. White’s play explores what happens when a bout with disease starts to undermine our carefully constructed selves.
  • Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play, by Anne Washburn, May-June, 2015. After the apocalypse, survivors keep their connection to the past and whatever shreds of integrated thought remain to them by…recounting old episodes of The Simpsons. Of course!


The Portland Center Stage 2014-15 season.

The Artist Repertory Theatre  2014-15 season.

The Oregon Children’s Theatre 2014-15 season.

Here’s the ArtsWatch review by Bob Hicks of the Playhouse’s most recent August Wilson play, Jitney.

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