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Portland's Fertile Ground Festival to begin Jan. 22

75 acts of theater, dance, music and more to be performed during 11 day festival


Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO:  - Brother and sister Hamilton and Brianna Barrett will present two plays during Fertile Ground: #BadDecisions (shown in this photo) and 36 Perfectly Appropriate Mealtime Conversations.

The Portland-grown Fertile Ground Citywide Festival of New Works continues to flourish in a town filled with prolific playwrights, abundant actors, innovative dancers, talented designers and adventuresome producers.

This year’s festival, which includes a wide variety of new producers along with several returning companies, will bring new artistic works from Portland’s teeming jungle of artists to light on stages, nooks and crannies all over Portland for 11 days from Jan. 22 to Feb. 1.

“Our city is a special place, a place where creativity thrives and creators are (almost literally) on every corner,” said fesitval director Nicole Lane. “Likewise, Fertile Ground is an incubator for new works of art creation citywide in theaters, pubs, studios, community centers and galleries all over town in January. This festival is about that phenomenon, that impetus, that undercurrent in our city’s culture to create everywhere, anywhere, with abounding diversity.”

Several theater companies across the nation host new works festivals and nearly all of those festivals present staged readings of works in progress, curated by the artistic aesthetic of one company’s artistic staff. They are also typically exclusive to genre. In contrast, Fertile Ground is about process as well as product in creative development. The Portland festival is the collaborative work of the local artistic community expressing the mother lode of creative capacities, in a quintessentially Portland manner.

Fertile Ground was launched by the Portland Area Theatre Alliance in 2009 to provide a platform for Portland theater companies to showcase their commitment to new work. But the festival has grown to embrace many forms of new works, allowing Portland’s art lovers to discover Portland’s truly fertile ground for creativity, innovation and daring acts of performance.

Key producers for this year’s festival include Lakewood Theatre Company, Post5 Theatre, CoHo Theatre, Action/Adventure Theatre and other emerging companies, individual playwrights and choreographers.

Lakewood Theatre Company will host “One Off,” a series of improvised one-act plays; “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen,” with book and lyrics by Mark LaPeirre and music by Dan David; “Upon a Winter Road,” with music by Kurt Miser, lyrics by Kurt Miser, Brad Beaver and Russ Cowan and book by Kurt Miser and Russ Cowan; and “Want Fries With That?” by C.S. Whitcomb.

Brother-and-sister playwrights Hamilton and Brianna Barrett will be staging back-to-back performances of two original new works, “36 Perfectly Appropriate Mealtime Conversations” and “#BadDecisions” as workshops during Fertile Ground. One of their lead actresses is Brianne Sabine, who has family in both Lake Oswego and West Linn.

The plays showcase both writers’ humorous takes on sex, dating, friendship and bad karaoke. “36 Perfectly Appropriate Mealtime Conversations” offers a noteworthy commentary on gender and sexuality by staging three separate performances in which all the actors take turns playing different characters in the show — wearing the same costumes and reciting the same lines as someone else the night before. In order to give people the “full experience,” intrigued theater attendees are able to attend the show once, twice or all three times for the price of one ticket.

Stay through intermission and that same ticket is also good for “#BadDecisions” — a raucous, foul, hilarious, bizarrely endearing musical about a group of friends who make one bad decision after another while trying to create a night that they will never forget — and probably never remember. Music and lyrics are by John Maggi.

The performances are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Jan. 29, 30 and 31 at the Clinton Street Theater, 2522 S.E. Clinton St. in Portland. Tickets are available online at boxofficetickets.com/bot/wa/event.

A complete list of presentations can be found online at fertilegroundpdx.org.

Tickets for individual events can be purchased through each producer. Patrons may also buy a $50 all-access festival pass at the Fertile Ground website.

36 Perfectly Appropriate Mealtime Conversations is one of two Fertile Ground productions by Hamilton and Brianna Barrett.

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