Tears of Joy moves in with Imago

Yet another theater merger in 2013.

Tears of Joy will reprise The Reluctant Dragon for 2013-14 in their new home: Imago Theatre.

Tears of Joy will reprise The Reluctant Dragon for 2013-14 in their new home:
Imago Theatre.

Yesterday afternoon at the Hollywood Theatre, a Tears of Joy puppet crew reprised one of their classics, a shadow  show of Lewis Carrol’s “Jabberwocky” conceived in the 80’s. The narration savors Caroll’s invented nonsense vocab, delighting in onomotopoetic words like “snickersnack”, while  recognizable kitchen tools play-act the fanciful scenes, a flapping wine opener even serving as a “jubjub bird.” But amid the whimsy the company is known for comes a practical move:

“I can announce that we’ll be moving into the Imago Theatre space in Southeast Portland for the coming season,” said managing director Neal Spinler, adding that ticket prices will be lower for this fleet of titles (The Reluctant Dragon, The Shoemaker and the Elves, Monkey King, and Raven Stories) than recent seasons.

“[The move] is something Imago’s been interested in for a while,” said Spinler, noting that Imago artistic directors Jerry Mouawad and Carol Triffle originally met at Tears of Joy. “We looked at other theaters and considered a lot of plusses and minuses. What we hear about downtown locations from families is, ‘It’s too hard to park.’ Near PCPA, there’s great dining, but it’s not particularly suited to families…. Ultimately Imago makes more sense, and they have a longer-term goal to grow that space as a puppetry and mask center.”

Such mergers seem to be in the wind for the 2013-14 season. Artists Rep has annexed Profile Theatre, Theatres Vertigo and Northwest Classical are shacking up, and Post5 and Action/Adventure seem to be increasingly swinging, with tonight’s staging of Sam Dinkowitz’s “Oh F-ck Oh Sh-t It’s Love” featuring at least one crossover face (Sam de Roest).

But every good relationship has boundaries. “We’re not getting married; we’re just dating,” ToJ artistic director Nancy Aldridge clarified. Though ToJ will be a resident at Imago, the two companies won’t completely merge. Imago will maintain its existing M.O.—masks, mime, and mixed age-appropriateness—while ToJ will continue its focus on family-appropriate narrative puppetry. But both companies are open to future creative collaboration, as well as cross-pollination of their practical strengths. “They tour so much,” says Spinler, “while my background is in box office and database systems.” So hopefully in this new synergy, Imago will tighten its virtual communication, subscription and audience-building, and Tears of Joy will be able to expand its regional footprint and take more shows on the road.

A. L. Adams also writes for  The Portland Mercury and is  former arts editor of Portland Monthly Magazine.
Read more from Adams: Oregon ArtsWatch  | The Portland Mercury
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2 Responses.

  1. Brett Campbell says:

    Another example of theatrical intercourse: this season’s close encounter between Hand2Mouth Theater and Portland Playhouse in “The Left Hand of Darkness.” My, those randy Portland theater types sure are getting busy with each other these days!

  2. George Taylor says:

    Just a little vote from this quarter for the importance of precise speech. Using the word “annexed” to describe the relationship between ART and Profile makes it sound like the former has swallowed the latter. At the risk of pushing a metaphor beyond all rational shape, ART has simply set a place at its table for Profile, which remains a separate company with its own structure, identity and mission. Just in case there was any confusion.

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