Sean Davis

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.


A stage for veterans’ stories

Profile's "Elliot" trilogy tells the tale of a soldier's difficult return. On the same stage Monday, real-life vets' own stories will be told.


What do an 82nd Airborne infantry Afghanistan War veteran and an Ivy League educated, Pulitzer Prize winning dramatist have in common? Both have works being featured onstage by Profile Theatre over Veterans’ Day weekend. In fact, multiple veterans and veterans’ family members will have their words read on stage by professional actors on Monday, Nov. 13. And Profile Theatre is producing two award-winning plays by Quiara Alegría Hudes and holding an exclusive speaking event with the playwright herself on Nov. 18. This is the culmination of an eight-month collaboration among Profile, the Writers Guild Initiative, and several veterans’ groups around Portland.

Cast of “Elliot: A Soldier’s Fugue,” which began Profile’s “Elliot” trilogy in February: Cristi Miles, Anthony Lam, Jimmy Garcia, Anthony Green. Photo: David Kinder

As the focus of its 2017 season, Profile presented Quiara Alegría Hudes’ award-winning “Elliot” Trilogy: Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue, the Pulitzer Prize winning Water By The Spoonful, and The Happiest Song Plays Last. The Elliot in the “Elliot Trilogy” is a Marine combat veteran who survived his soul-wrenching experiences at war and tries to integrate back into the society he left. The plays are also about how both physical and mental injuries suffered in combat can echo through the generations, and how families are affected by the trauma.


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