Bag&Baggage Productions

Bag & Baggage’s ‘The Best of Everything’: Full Frontal Female

Despite strong performances, woman-centric production ultimately fails to fully flesh out its female characters.


Bag & Baggage Productions has trumpeted its new production of The Best of Everything as a triumph of female theater: a play adapted by a woman (Julie Kramer) from a novel by a woman (Rona Jaffe’s 1958 book by the same title), directed by a woman (Michelle Milne), mostly designed by women (costumes: Melissa Heller, scenic: Megan Wilkerson, lighting: Molly Stowe) and starring mostly women.

With all that estrogen involved, and the source material’s proto-feminist take on the sexist ‘50s American office culture, you’d expect this new production (the first on the West Coast) to explode the stereotypes of women that the novel and play strive so hard to puncture. But it actually succeeds mostly in one major respect that’s not the one the play intends.

Bag&Baggage Productions' "The Best of Everything." Photo: Casey Campbell Photography.

Bag&Baggage Productions’ “The Best of Everything.” Photo: Casey Campbell Photography.

Certainly everyone had feminist intentions. The author of 16 books (one titled Mr. Right is Dead), Brooklyn-born Jaffe founded an organization to promote women writers, and, decades before Mad Men, BoE, along with other seminal — make that ovular — books of the era like The Feminine Mystique, published five years later, won notoriety for its scathing portrait of a sexist society’s effect on the women it repressed. Jaffe’s book traced several characters in a New York publishing firm similar to the one she worked in herself when she wrote the novel.

The play, which premiered in 2012, presents characters representative of the era’s various female stereotypes — the naive Midwesterner shamed for her normal sex drive (spunkily played by Kaia Hillier in one of the show’s best performances); the driven, career-oriented Radcliffe grad (the central character, portrayed by B&B resident actor Cassie Greer) who embodies the coming second wave feminist generation; the icy, bitchy executive (Morgan Cox’s Amanda Farrow) who has to repress her humanity and femininity to claw her way near (but never all the way to) the top in an aggressive man’s world; the superficially sexually adventurous Gregg Adams (played by B&B resident actor Arianne Jacques) who secretly longs for a traditional marriage; the prudish repressed virgin Mary Agnes Russo (hilariously played by B&B resident actor Jessi Walters) who derides women who actually acknowledge the natural sexual appetites that she herself appears afraid to unleash. In her program note for this West Coast premiere, director Milne promises that the arc of the play will show the reality of the women busting out of those cultural stereotypes.


Bag & Baggage’s ‘Richard III’: Tricky Dick

Scott Palmer’s Shakespeare adaptation uses comedy to gain sympathy for the devil.

I’m not sure which is the more demented notion: Bag & Baggage Productions turning Shakespeare’s blood-soaked tragedy Richard III into a comedy, or seeing it outdoors on Hillsboro’s charming Main Street in 100°+ temperatures. In fact, Bag & Baggage’s Richard III is both a perfect summer theater experience — and way too fulfilling to be a mere summer fling. Thanks to the shade of the buildings looming over Hillsboro’s Civic Center Plaza and a gentle breeze, even the heat proved no problem. An audacious production like this happens only once in a blue moon, and fortunately, there’s one rising this weekend.

Peter Schuyler, Eric St. Cyr and Eric Nepom star in Bag & Baggage Productions' Richard III. Photo: Casey Campbell.

Peter Schuyler, Eric St. Cyr and Eric Nepom star in Bag & Baggage Productions’ Richard III. Photo: Casey Campbell.

B&B Artistic Director Scott Palmer conceived this Richard’s crazy concept — transforming one of theater’s best known bloody tragedies into a comedy — a dozen years ago when he was running Scotland’s Glasgow Repertory Company. What would the story of an ambitious English lord who’s willing to murder and manipulate even his own family members in order to claim the crown look like, Palmer wondered, viewed through its antihero’s evil eyes?


‘Our Country’s Good’: drama in the penal colony

Bag & Baggage's production demonstrates theater's revelatory power

The opening scenes of Bag&Baggage Productions Our Country’s Good take place behind backlit screens set up on either side of the stage at Hillsboro’s Venetian Theater. Brutal, carnal, and penal, those Platonic (fore)shadows suggest that theater’s contrivances can reveal deeper truths about people and history than literal portrayals. That’s the conceit of theater, of art itself, and this production, which runs through May 31, makes a strong case for theater’s revelatory power.

Bag & Baggage Productions presents "Our Country's Good" at the Venetian Theatre in Hillsboro. (Photo: Casey Campbell Photography

Bag & Baggage Productions presents “Our Country’s Good” at the Venetian Theatre in Hillsboro. Photo: Casey Campbell Photography.

Timberlake Wertenbaker’s play-within-a play, set in late 18th century Australia, tells the semi-fictional story of a British Royal Marine prison guard regiment that allows convicts to stage the first play ever performed in that province, during its original incarnation as a penal colony that allowed the Brits to rid themselves of criminals and other lower-class unfortunates whom the ruling elite judged undesirables. The British military governor’s idealistic (for its time) goal is to use theater as a kind of artistic cure for the prisoners sins. But by the end of B&B’s gripping performance, which is masterfully directed by Scott Palmer, it’s the soldiers and the audience who achieve the greater enlightenment – and a visceral, unexpected emotional catharsis. The events that follow affirm the notion that the play’s the thing wherein we’ll catch the conscience of the king, though in a different way than Shakespeare suggested.

B&B’s version of Our Country’s Good is several levels removed from the actual events that transpired in 18th century Australia and are its original source material. The story shifts to Thomas Keneally’s novel The Playmaker, based on that history; Wertenbaker’s award-winning 1988 play that Keneally’s novel inspired; and finally, Palmer’s production. What we experience in the Venetian is the story of a young British Army lieutenant, Ralph Clark (played by Andrew Beck, who seemingly had to endure a surgical implantation that initially makes him appear the very embodiment of stick-up-his-ass pompous officer), who’s volunteered to direct an evidently stiff Restoration comedy, George Farquhar’s 1706 The Recruiting Officer, acted by the convicts his troops are guarding.

Clark’s motives are initially self-serving: he wants to curry favor with his commander. Like those who run arts-in-prison programs today, Captain Philip explains to Clark his hopes that performing in the play will provide a model for his prisoners’ rehabilitation. It’s the play’s first sign that its initial portrayal of the soldiers as cold, brutal occupiers is incomplete. We’ll soon learn that so is the soldiers’ view of the convicts.

One storyline depicts the conflict between idealistic officers who want to save these noble savages (Rousseau is explicitly invoked) of the criminal class via culture and modeling good behavior, and their colleagues, who see brutality as the only way to impose order on criminals. Already resentful at being assigned to the Empire’s harsh backwater as punishment (or so they believe) for losing the American Revolution, the latter group see the comedy, which lightly spoofs upper-class manners and authority figures, as a threat to their control, in an isolated land where reinforcements and help of any kind might be months or years away.

OCG’s military characters represent the spectrum of the soldiers’ attitude toward their prisoners, from Colin Wood’s cruel Major Ross to Luke Armstrong’s guilt-ridden Midshipman Harry Brewer (who agonizes about having carried out Philip’s order to execute young prisoners caught stealing food) to Captain Philip himself, who embodies his Empire’s moral ambiguity, capable of flogging or even killing prisoners for minor infractions as well as trying to save them.

Bag & Baggage Productions presents "Our Country's Good" at the Venetian Theatre in Hillsboro. (Photo: Casey Campbell Photography

Bag&Baggage Productions presents “Our Country’s Good” at the Venetian Theatre in Hillsboro. Photo: Casey Campbell Photography.

In working closely with his amateur actors over several months of rehearsal during which he must cross class barriers to transform ruffians into thespians, Clark — and the audience — soon learn to see the inmates as complex people rather than stereotypical evildoers, thanks to the play’s gradual revelation of their pre-transport back stories and their actions in the colony itself. Their crimes, we learn, range from petty thievery to being Jewish, or female, at the wrong place at the wrong time. They’re even capable of falling in love, with each other – and with the soldiers who guard them.

Palmer presents this absorbing story in a series of brief, taut chapters (each preceded by more shadow-screen action, accompanied by the actors repetitively chanting chapter titles) that push the pace, while risking losing continuity. For the most part, the strategy pays off brilliantly, the brisk tempo keeping the audience mesmerized throughout the two and a half hour run time. But the brief scenes force the play to rely heavily on the actors to convey the kind of emotional depth that ordinarily unfolds in longer scenes. Bag&Baggage’s resident actors, who’ve developed a powerful chemistry with each other and with Palmer over the years, rise to the challenge, creating a sense of sympathy and identification through the strong, distinctive characterization that’s a hallmark of B&B productions.

With twenty roles but only ten actors, each must double, playing one character from the top of the power pyramid and another at the bottom. The doubling whiplashes cast members through a wrenching series of character switches that they pull off almost flawlessly, especially given the emotional range the play covers – from humor (wannabe actors making their pitches to be part of the production) to an immensely poignant scene in which an amateur hangman measures a woman for the noose that will kill her. Palmer adeptly uses subtle physical and vocal exaggeration to make each a little larger than life, reinforcing the notion that the colony is itself a giant stage upon which these soldiers and convicts are re-enacting British class conflicts.

The compelling characterizations also compensate for the lack of textural depth that a different kind of production would convey with incidental music or more elaborate scenery and props. This surprisingly spare one effectively keeps the focus on the people rather than their historical setting. And that emphasis pays off: what could have been merely a historical morality play blossoms into an emotionally moving, at times heart-wrenching drama.

Bag & Baggage Productions presents "Our Country's Good" at the Venetian Theatre in Hillsboro. Photo: Casey Campbell Photography.

Bag & Baggage Productions presents “Our Country’s Good” at the Venetian Theatre in Hillsboro. Photo: Casey Campbell Photography.

Because this production is really a group triumph, I’m reluctant to single out individual actors. But Strong, Schuyler, Clara-Liis Hillier, Ross, and Cassie Greer as the victimized Duckling (“I wish I was dead,” she says. “At least when you’re dead you’re free.”) excel. Yet really, every actor offered multiple moments of real power in what has to be one of the strongest across-the-board ensemble performances I’ve seen this year.

Still, even their best efforts can’t supply all the missing pieces. Not having read Keneally’s novel, I’m not sure where to pin the blame for Our Country’s Good’s occasional flaws — the novel, the script, or this production. But whatever the source, the prisoners seem a bit too good to be true; while many transported convicts were no doubt guilty of little more than poverty, some were doubtless rough characters, and it would have made the soldiers’ eventual transition to compassion feel braver and harder-earned had we seen more of that rough side. (Portland nice is a common problem in Portland plays that call for darker dimensions.) Clark’s transition from uptight snob to sympathetic director seems a tad abrupt; I craved one more scene that dramatized his shift in perspective. Some storylines and characters (like the underwritten Malagasy and aboriginal characters ably portrayed by Damaris Webb) still suffer from gaps that even superior acting and directing can’t quite fill in.

But none of those flaws impedes our enjoyment of this mostly terrific play and Bag&Baggage’s irresistible production, both of which offer ample testament to the ability of theater — an art form founded on artifice — to tell us deeper truths than reality can manage.


Bag&Baggage ProductionsOur Country’s Good plays at The Venetian, 253 E. Main Street, in Hillsboro. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 and Sunday matinees at 2, through May 31. Tickets available online and at or 503 345 9590.

Bag & Baggage: That ‘70s Show

"Six Gentlepersons of Verona" gets groovy with un-famous Shakespeare

At the talkback session after Sunday’s matinee performance of Six Gentlepersons of Verona, an audience member asked director Scott Palmer why he wanted to stage a play that’s widely considered — including, according to his program notes, Palmer himself — to be among Shakespeare’s weakest.

“Because I wanted to!” grinned Bag & Baggage Productions’ artistic director, a confessed Shakespeare geek who enjoys nothing more than poring through historical source material and approaching the plays from novel directions. He elaborated: like many directors, Palmer wants to get through Shakespeare’s entire canon (much as conductors crave complete Beethoven or Mahler symphony cycles or Wagner’s Ring operas); Verona, possibly Shakespeare’s earliest comedy, contains the seeds and even some of the plot devices of his later masterpieces (a balcony scene a la Romeo and Juliet, transformative encounters in the woods like in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and others, a pre-Othello jealousy plot); its very dramatic weaknesses pose a challenge that any ambitious director wants to solve, and so on.

All good reasons … for a director. But what about the audience? Why should we pay a farthing to sit through a couple hours of second-rate Shakespeare? Are we mere canon-fodder?

Cassie Greer and Clara-Liis Hillier star in "The Six Gentlepersons of Verona." running through March 22. Photo: Casey Campbell Photography.

Cassie Greer and Clara-Liis Hillier star in “The Six Gentlepersons of Verona.” running through March 22. Photo: Casey Campbell Photography.

Bag & Baggage’s new production, which runs through March 22 at Hillsboro’s historic Venetian Theatre, provides some persuasive answers, and not just the unbearably cute, scene stealing pug.


Miracle on 43rd Street and SANTA reviews: Laugh- and thought-provoking holiday alternatives.

Bag & Baggage Productions and Liminal Performance Group offer nontraditional takes on holiday classics.

The holidays can be hellish for arts lovers whose quest for fresh experiences and insights often collide with the seasonal insistence on the familiar. Portland theater companies are responding by creating new holiday traditions. This year’s Bag & Baggage holiday show repeats much of the formula of last year’s It’s a (Somewhat) Wonderful Life: Take an overfamiliar holiday film, pull back the camera a level by framing it as a radio play production, write a new comic story involving the actors who are playing the movie roles — and somehow make it all (a live theater play about a radio play about a movie) work. Director Scott Palmer even recycled the same set (including the division into three zones of sometimes simultaneous action), characters and many of the actors.

But despite the promising setup and some fine acting, last year’s show suffered from “often-clunky expository dialogue and a sketchy script that devotes insufficient attention to dramatizing (verbally or otherwise) the radio actors’ jaded attitudes,” as I wrote in ArtsWatch. “To achieve the density of humor required for true comic combustion, the too-long show needs more slam-bang comic moments … jokes and physical comedy, and less tedious traversal of the familiar original Capra lines, which the audience already knows well enough.”

And that’s exactly what this year’s Miracle on 43rd Street delivers. Shedding much of the holiday cinema classic’s plot development and minimizing exposition (until, unfortunately, the end), Palmer’s sly script leaves hardly any dead spots and packs so much hilarious action into each section of this three-ring circus that there’s always something funny going on. The trick is knowing where to look at a given moment. If everyone’s laughing and you’re not, you’re gazing at the wrong part of the stage. The only real solution is to see it twice. And you should, because Miracle on 43rd Street is the funniest — and most fun — new holiday show I’ve seen in years.

Clara Hillier as Felicity, Gary Strong as Winston, Jeremy Sloan as Gilroy and Jessica Geffen as Lana. Photo: Casey Campbell Photography.

Clara Hillier as Felicity, Gary Strong as Winston, Jeremy Sloan as Gilroy and Jessica Geffen as Lana. Photo: Casey Campbell Photography.

Bursting with boob jokes, queen jokes (it’s worth pointing out that the author is proudly gay) and above all corpse jokes, most of the comedy is physical. The new subplot’s hostage situation and the characters’ need to maintain the radio audience’s (though not the theater audience’s) unawareness of it — that is, between their need to tell the familiar story of the movie and the unpredictable chaos going on around it — supplies plentiful comic tension .

You needn’t remember the original film well or at all to enjoy this new seasonal delight, which is extremely loosely based on Lux Radio Theatre’s 1948 live broadcast of Miracle on 34th Street. However, it wouldn’t hurt to have seen a lot of other movies (Airplane!, Weekend at Bernie’s, Young Frankenstein, Bullets Over Broadway, Dr. Strangelove and probably others lost in the avalanche of laughter that accompanied the opening night performance) to catch some of the references that drew the most laughs.

Credit for the enthusiastic response goes to Palmer’s bustling script, astute direction, and his ebullient cast’s high-energy, nearly exhausting performances. All display the strong chemistry characteristic of B&B’s regular company. Jessica Geffen perkily reprised last year’s role as cheerily clueless Lana North-Berkshire-Whiteside, and this year’s show benefits from more sparing appearances of the shrill Bronx accent and mammary humor that goosed both productions along. Clara Hillier’s Felicity Fay Fitzpatrick upstages almost everyone (as she intends) with outrageous drama queenery and overdramatic gestures. And speaking of queening around, Jeremy Sloan’s Gilroy Gildersleeve’s fey cop gets most of the funniest lines — and deliciously dishes them with Liberace-like camp.

Even though those three turn in some of the funniest physical comedy I’ve seen lately on Oregon stages, it’s no slam at them — or at Gary Sloan, Chase Fulton and Luke Armstrong, who also excel despite their comic opportunities being limited by their roles as straight man or plot device — to note that they’re eclipsed by a dead guy. Branden McFarland’s Peter Paulson, the unfortunate station sound effects guy, spends most of the play growing ever more rigorously mortis, yet nevertheless is the star of the show — with ample assistance from his co-stars. To say more about his role, or the plot itself, would give away too many of the surprises that keep B&B’s Miracle so blessedly brilliant.

In fact, the show’s only drawback is that it ends — not once, but several times, dissipating some of the momentum fueled by the near constant laughter by trying to wrap up too many threads at the end. And as those of us fiddling with ribbons and bows all know, wrapping and unwrapping is the most tiresome part of an otherwise rewarding holiday. But the slight stumble across the finish line hardly negates the hilarity that preceded it. Whether you’ve seen the movie or not, whether you go gaga over Santa and the rest of the seasonal ho ho hokum or not, anyone who needs a good laugh at this most solemn/depressing time of year — and don’t we all? — should make the pilgrimage to Hillsboro to catch this Miracle.

Bag & Baggage Productions’ Miracle on 43rd Street runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sunday matinees at 2:00pm at Hillsboro’s Venetian Theatre. Tickets are available online.

Santa vs. Satan

The holiday season is all about tradition, and since we lumped (no coal implied) last year’s ArtsWatch Bag & Baggage review with a review of Liminal Performance Group’s 2013 show, let’s maintain that tradition. As ArtsWatch’s Marty Hughley wrote in his preview, Liminal’s holiday offering repeats last year’s surprising move from the company’s usual avant garde offerings to seemingly more traditional fare. Last year, it was Thornton Wilder’s chestnut Our Town; this year, Santa himself.

But the title character of Liminal’s SANTA (shouldn’t that title be lower case?) is hardly the jolly figure who’s enslaved elves and dragooned reindeer into satiating capitalist consumer cravings. In the riveting opening scene of the great 20th century American poet e.e. cummings’ one act play, we meet him curled near-fetal on the floor of Back Door Theater’s spare set, lamenting that he has so much joy to give, but so few want to take it.

Here, Santa is an allegorical figure representing the spirit of joy and generosity engaged in a classic deal with the devil. Sharply delineated by Leo Daedalus (monocled and top-hatted like Mr. Peanut but not as salty), Death (as cummings calls him) is simultaneously adorable, witty, seductive — yet subtly dangerous, as signaled by his just-a-little-too-rough handling of Santa, whom he’s inveigling into a sneaky switcheroo.  But then, Death slinks to the floor and makes goo-goo eyes at Jeff Marchant, who grabs us immediately with his desperate desire to give happiness, and vulnerably portrays St. Nick evolving through disillusionment, despair, deception, and eventually to something more life affirming.

The fact that we care about them as characters rather than archetypes makes Liminal’s production surprisingly affecting. After all, cummings subtitled his 1946 one-act play A Morality, referencing the highly stylized medieval religious dramas called “morality plays” that enacted the battle of good vs. evil in theatrical terms — and left out the “play” in both subtitle and script.

Jeff Marchant and Leo Daedalus in Liminal's SANTA.

Jeff Marchant and Leo Daedalus in Liminal’s SANTA.

But dramatists from the ancient Greeks to Indonesian shadow puppet theater artists (in epics like the Ramayana and Mahabarata) have shown that allegory doesn’t have to be unbearably pretentious, tedious or didactic, and Liminal’s tight production shows that it can even be relevant. One of the play’s main themes — that humanity’s pursuit of knowledge without understanding brings dire consequences — is at least as pertinent in our own age of drones, NSA techno-spying, GMOs, Google Glassholes, and other technological degradations of humane existence as it was immediately after the nuclear devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, unleashed a few months before cummings wrote his play; the theme was a prime preoccupation of postwar artists and intellectuals of the time.

Yet cummings also acknowledges the danger of reflexively rejecting knowledge, portraying humanity (here called the Crowd and spiritedly represented by Alex Reagan, costumed and behaving as a soccer yob) as a greedy, vindictive, dangerously unthinking mob, easily bamboozled by pseudo-science spouting hucksters, kind of a societal id. The story (which cummings wrote shortly after reuniting with his own daughter, from whom he’d been separated for decades) ultimately is more about the value of family love, embodied as the Child (Delilah Fox), as a bulwark against the ignorance of those who allow greed to eclipse knowledge and those who fail to leaven it with wisdom.

Along with engaging acting, Liminal enriches cummings’s dry, enigmatic “morality” with well chosen if minimal costumes (by Sumi Wu), lighting (Rory Breshears) and video landscape (Ben Purdy). Director John Berendzen adroitly combines them with other cummings texts from the 1920s interpolated between Santa Claus’s five scenes (some sung beguilingly by Carla Grant, who arrestingly plays the unfortunately underdeveloped character cummings called Woman) plus his own subtly ominous score and sound design.

The result: a production that adds up to more than an intellectual interaction — something like Santa meets Samuel Beckett. The hour-long running time affords us the opportunity to reflect on its heady ideas without growing tedious. To swipe the tagline from Daedalus’s The Late Now, it’s the thinking mammal’s Christmas show, and along with Bag & Baggage’s very different Miracle, a rewarding holiday alternative for Oregon theater lovers.

Liminal Performance Group’s SANTA runs Thursdays through Sundays, Dec. 4–21, at southeast Portland’s Backdoor Theatre. Tickets are available online.

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Place gallery gets the boot from Pioneer Place

Also Father Kevin Connell (Bag & Baggage's Lear) is recovering from a stroke, Profile names its 2015 playwright

Did John Dougherty's "Shit Balloons" cross a line at Pioneer Place?

Did John Dougherty’s “Shit Balloons” cross a line at Pioneer Place?

The management of Pioneer Place, General Growth Properties, has terminated the lease of Place gallery, according to Place co-founder Gabe Flores, and the gallery’s last day in the downtown mall will be March 30.

In a lengthy account on the Place website, Flores printed an email exchange he had with mall general manager Robert Buchanan. It starts with an email from Buchanan objecting to the three current shows at Place, and the demand for prior approval of Place shows (at least that’s how I read the bureaucratize). Flores responded with an email that pointed out the hypocrisy of Buchanan’s objections within the context of the other shops in the mall and the thinness of his analysis of the artwork he found objectionable. And then it closes with Flores’s account of his meeting with Buchanan, and a gracious thank you to General Growth Properties for its support of the gallery since 2010.

I have emailed Buchanan to ask for his side of the events Flores describes. When he responds, I will follow up, and perhaps talk a little bit about why contemporary art and a mall were strange bedfellows to begin with!

In the meantime, I will just pause a moment to remember the crazy quilt of shows Place has exhibited over the years, some of the ways Place had some fun with its home in a mall, and re-print the list of shows scheduled at Place for the rest of 2014, the work of artists, curators and institutions that we will miss:

Hannah Piper Burns, Palma Corral, Brooks Dierdorff, Will Elder, André Filipek, Chris Freeman, Jonathan Eric Gann, Nicolo Gentile, Erik Geschke, Ben Glas, Katherine Groesbeck, Joshua Kim, Matthew Leavitt, Rhoda London, Mark Martinez, Albert Navetta, Kayleigh Nelson, Travis Nikolai, The Pacific Northwest College of Art, Roger Peet, Julie Perini, PHAME Academy, Portland State University, Claire Redman, Nicolas Reibel, and Gary Wiseman

Perhaps more later.

Father Kevin Connell, the title character in Bag & Baggage’s production Lear, suffered a debilitating stroke last week, though the news about his recovery from the company’s Facebook page has been positive. According to the latest post on Friday, he had been moved out of ICU, “his strength is improving and he is doing better.”

Having lost its Lear, the company marshalled on with “highlights” from the show, which was a creative intervention into the text to begin with. It’s hard to imagine another version of King Lear that could possibly have continued under these circumstances. But this one did, and did very well, according to OregonLive’s Jerry Boone.

Our best to Father Connell and Bag & Baggage: This would be a good time to make a donation to the company.

Meanwhile, Northwest Classical Theatre Company’s more traditional version of King Lear, with Ted Roisum in the title role, continues through March 30. Here’s what ArtsWatch’s Marty Hughley said about Roisum’s Lear: “Indignation burns and churns in him like magma. There is bullying and bitterness in this Lear, but also biting wit and touching tenderness, self-pity and self-awareness.”

We have LOTS of theater news building up, especially pertaining to the 2014-15 season announcements by various companies. For now, we’ll just drop one: Profile Theatre has announced its subject playwright for 2015. It’s Sarah Ruhl, another alum from Paula Vogel’s theater classes at Brown University. Here’s what Profile artistic director Adriana Baer says about Ruhl:

“Sarah’s work is both profound and mundane. She writes how life actually feels, not how it looks. It’s like she’s tapped into the spiritual subconscious of all of us. Her plays are beautiful and fun and whimsical and lovely. When taken together, her plays give a full picture of our longings and our secret selves.”

The company, still in the midst of its investigation of Sam Shepard, will announce particular plays, schedules and ticket information later.

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