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Portland actress to play lead role in 'Bountiful'


As our hair turns gray, so does our understanding of what motivated us to do what we’ve done. Past decisions, once seen in black and white terms, are now understood as made with a sense of ambivalence rather than surety.

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Jane Fellows plays Carrie Watts, a woman who wants to make one last journey to her childhood home, in The Trip to Bountiful, Feb. 18 in Gresham.

So says Jane Fellows, a noted Portland actress who will portray Carrie Watts, the lead character in Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful,” the latest undertaking of Readers Theatre of Sandy Actors Theatre. Foote also wrote screenplays for “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Tender Mercies,” and his “Bountiful” also was adapted for the silver screen in 1985.

Fellows, who has played Watts before in a fully staged production, says the late Foote was the kind of playwright who created real-life characters, not cardboard cutouts, particularly women with a sense of ambiguity about their lives.

“I think all of us feel trapped by something, and it’s the courage to take the steps to do what you need to do to maintain your courage and strength,” Fellows says of what she draws from “Bountiful.” “We all have baggage. It’s very interesting to think about a trip and baggage and what happens to everybody.”

Homeward bound

Watts wants to see her childhood home in Bountiful, Texas, and the play revolves around her ongoing attempts to return there. Fellows says she thinks Gresham audiences will enjoy the sparse production, which consists of actors reading from scripts as opposed to being on a stage with props and sets.

“The beautiful thing about this play is it doesn’t seem like a lesson,” Fellows says. “You are so engrossed in pulling for this woman to make it back home and find her strength and find out what’s she’s about.”

Watts discovers, in the ruin and decay of time’s passage, a renewed connection to her past and the realization that your homeland is forever a part of you. Readers Theatre will present the play at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18, in Gresham Chapel & Evening Event Center, 257 S.E. Roberts Ave. Tickets are $8 general admission (no reservations).

Fellows says roles for older women like Watts have become more commonplace in the theatrical world over the past decades.

“I think that there are more plays that are being written that do address older folks, and they are not being stereotyped,” she says. “I think we’re getting better at looking at people as people and not as symbols or stereotypes.”

Upcoming work

Fellows is a busy actress who will direct Readers Theatre’s April 15 production of “The Glass Menagerie.” She also will star in Bobby Ryan’s “Anything But Brilliant,” a Lights Up! play, which runs March 29 through April 20 at the Profile Theater, 3430 S.E. Belmont Ave., Portland (lightsupportproductions.com).

Fellows says she enjoys working with her fellow thespians in East County and relishes the chance to bring Watts to life.

“I get to say those words and be involved in the story again,” she says. “Anytime an actor is given an opportunity to take a journey in a role, it is a gift.”

For information on “Bountiful,” call 503-869-6183, or visit sandyactorstheatre.org.