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Fertile Ground celebrates new work in performing arts


COURTESY: SYLVIA MALAN GONZALEZ - Broken Promises, which has also started its run at Milagro Theatre, tells of a womans unwilling fall into the crime world.The Fertile Ground Festival of New Works, now in its eighth year, shines the spotlight on playwrights, performers, producers and companies that might otherwise be lost in the entertainment shuffle.

It’s an extensive lineup of works, Jan. 21-31, although some have already started — “Yellow Wallpaper” by CoHo Productions, for instance.

Nicole Lane, Fertile Ground director, calls it our city’s “fountain of innovation and creativity” on display and diverse “acts of creation” put on in front of people for the first time.

Detailed information, and a festival guide, can be found at fertilegroundpdx.org; a $50 festival pass gets you into all the events (and check individual websites for ticket information). But let’s take a quick look at some of the happenings in the next 11 days and beyond:

Groovin’ Greenhouse, the “dance hub” of Fertile Ground, features an array of emerging and established dance companies — Polaris, Polaris Junior, Portland Belly Dance Guild, NW Fusion, A-WOL, r:ad — all at Polaris’ new home, 1820 N.W. 18th Ave., Jan. 21-24, Jan. 28-31. ...

Action/Adventure has been a Fertile Ground regular, and its “Pilot Season!” (Jan. 21-Feb. 14, 1050 S.E. Clinton St.) allows companies to present new shows to be part of its 2016-17 season. This year’s plays: Talon Bigelow’s “Purgator Inc.”; Benja Barker’s “Explorers of the Quantum Doorway”; Connery MacRae/Alexandra Schaffer’s “Pandemonium Playhouse Presents: Doomageddon!”; Isinglass’ “Fall of the Faire.” ...

In “Or, The Whale” (Jan. 21-23, Reed College, Diver Studio Theatre, 3203 S.E. Woodstock Blvd.), it’s a play, a song, an operetta or a poetic response to Melville’s “Moby Dick.” ...

Stumptown Stages has gained much acclaim on its own, but it’ll stage “The Adventures of Dex Dixon: Paranormal Dick” at Fertile Ground (Jan. 21-31, Brunish Theatre, 1111 S.W. Broadway). It’s a musical featuring the hard-boiled paranormal investigator, described as “a film noir, horror, comedy musical filled with puns, guns, vixens, vamps, monsters, music and mayhem.” ...

Like “Yellow Wallpaper,” Milagro Theatre’s “Broken Promises” has already started, and it’ll be featured during Fertile Ground (Jan. 21-23, Milagro, 525 S.E. Stark St.). The story: Adriana and Estefan meet and date and dance and drink and do drugs, and Adriana finds herself in a world of crime, a devolving into the theft of innocence. ...

Continuing at Fertile Ground, “Ethyl’s Pies: A Comedy of Deception in Two Acts” (Jan. 22-31, Y Arts Little Theater, 6036 S.E. Foster Road) by Spring 4th Productions is a darkly comedic story of patrons Gollihar and Sieren (the creators of the play) and their days at a down-at-the-heels diner once famous for pies and salty service. ...

PDX Playwrights puts on scores of events/plays by 18 playwrights (starting Jan. 22, Hipbone Studio, 1847 E. Burnside), including: “Daisy Dukes Short Night,” short plays based on “Starting Over” theme; “Short and Sweet,” short plays by sister company P-Town Playwrights; “Family Hardware,” by Gary Corbin, a story of a man not healthy enough for sex and his disappointed wife; “Spectravagasm 8,” by Sam Dinkowitz, leading voice in Portland sketch; “Business as Usual,” by Michael Josef; and “Forethought: Four Short Plays,” by Brad Bolchunos, smart and witty dialogue in shorts. ...

Faith Helma, longtime Portland performance artist, puts on “I Hate Positive Thinking,” a fully staged world premiere (Jan. 22-Feb. 7, Shout House, 210 S.E. Madison St., Suite 11). It’s her manifesto against the self-improvement industry and an expedition in an alternative world, in which we find freedom embracing failure, speaking truth to power and dancing like (expletive). ...

COURTESY PHOTO - Some Fertile Ground highlights including Mustache Party! The Dali Show .The Circus Project, Echo Theatre Company and Tempos are collaborating on “S7nners” (Jan. 22-31, Echo Theatre, 1515 S.E. 37th Ave.), which explores themes and implications of the 7 Deadly Sins on 21st century living, as part of an evening of circus called “Between Worlds.” ...

The staged reading “Ophelia Oblivion” (Jan. 22-26, Celebration Tabernacle, 8131 N. Denver Ave.), written by Renee S. Mitchell, is designed to make you think, laugh, wonder and question, as it touches on family dysfunction, multigenerational secrets, the burden of private guilt, the power of love, the gift of forgiveness and the way that karma can sneak up on you. ...

Theatre Vertigo and playwright Rob Handel have a long run planned for “I Want To Destroy You” (Jan. 22-Feb. 20, The Shoebox Theatre, 2110 S.E. 10th Ave.). Inspired by the story of conceptual artist Chris Burden, it’s a story of ethics, education, class, meaning, violence, middle age and roofing. ...

SubRosa Dance Collective presents “Displaced” (Jan. 22-31, Conduit Dance, 2505 S.E. 11th Ave., No. 120), which tackles, through dance, the topics of raising rents and evictions and lack of creative space in the city, with audience participation. ...

Portland Story Theater’s Lawrence Howard has spent the past several years telling the story “Shackleton’s Antarctic Nightmare,” about an ill-fated trip to the South Pole. In Fertile Ground, his “Shackleton, The Untold Story” (Jan. 23 and 30, Alberta Abbey, 126 N.E. Alberta St.) tells the story of the Ross Sea Party, which laid down caches of supplies on the other side of Antarctica to possibly help Sir Ernest Shackleton. ...

Rogue Pack presents the workshop “Bob #middleschool #tweensandteens” (Jan. 28, Jason Lee Elementary, 2222 N.E. 92nd Ave.; Jan. 29-30, Sellwood Playhouse, 901 S.E. Spokane St.). It features stories, music and dance written by Jason Lee students and Boys & Girls Aid, about “Bob” and the interest and mystery of an omnipresent individual. ...

What would Fertile Ground be without “Mustache Party! The Dali Show,” a physical comedy, Salvador Dali-inspired extravaganza by Box of Clowns (paired with “The Undertoe Tales,” Jan. 28-Feb. 14, The Steep and Thorny Way to Heaven, 1464 S.E. Second Ave.)? “If Carol Burnett and the Three Stooges had triplets who were raised by Mr. Bean, you’d get award-winning clown trio Box of Clowns,” promotions say.