PCS Blog

My, What a Busy Week(s)!

Posted by Alice Hodge | 17 January 2014

Peter O'Connor (Daniel Cavanaugh) and Jeff Locker (Peter Timms) in Chinglish.

These last two weeks have seen a flurry of activity at the Armory: the cast and crew of Chinglish worked tirelessly on refining every last point of their production for Friday's opening night while also managing to preview their work each and every evening to the public. (Except on Monday, of course. Monday is Theatre Sabbath.)

 

Polaris Dance Theatre visited the Armory Lobby this week to preform a piece for the Oregon Tour and Travel Alliance (OTTA) and lucky Chinglish patrons. From the Mezzanine down to the ground level, the Armory was buzzing with excitment as they danced in trios, duos, quartets, and as a full company, making their way through the steps of one beautiful vignette after another. 

 

Polaris Dance Theatre performing ALL OVER the Armory Lobby.

 

Aside from Chinglish opening, the most exciting recent event was last week: when we officially ushered the next studio show, Bo-Nita into full-blown rehearsal mode with the Meet & Greet. As Associate Artistic Director Rose Riordan mentioned in her opening remarks, this play is particularly exciting for PCS because of its legacy with the company, where it was originally developed for the 2012 installment of JAW. All the more fulfilling is the opportunity to see Kate Eastwood Norris reprise her role as the title character under the direction of Gretchen Corbett (most recently seen on the PCS stage in Anna Karenina and as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) , who makes her Portland Center Stage directing debut.

 

The Meet & Greet is our most frequent opportunity as an organization to be with our counterparts: friends who spend most of their year at other theatres but come to work with us on a certain show, the Front of House team who work mostly evenings, the administrative team who work mostly days, the staff who work three floors down, or the hardworking artisans at our scene shop two miles away. Except for quarterly Company Meetings, the Meet & Greet is where we all come together. And lucky for us, ten shows a season means ten more opportunities. (We also had a pretty bomb Holiday Party, complete with Ping-Pong, though.) Everyone from the Artistic Director to volunteers and guests from community partnerships gather in the Rehearsal Hall with the actors, designers, the director, and if we’re lucky, the playwright.

 

PCS Associate Artistic Director Rose Riordan (center) leads the Bo-Nita Meet & Greet.

 

This week, we were that lucky. Rose called it “a rare gift” to have Playwright Elizabeth Heffron back to help us usher this play into flesh and space. Gretchen and Kate are no strangers to this building, of course, they spoke alongside Elizabeth about the title character, how she acquired her name, and the journey she undertakes from the play’s beginning to end. All three women – director, actor, and playwright – reminded us, with their generous reflections and insights, about how poignant this piece of storytelling will be for our Portland audience, who have such an affinity for storytelling already.

 

Each of them also expressed gratitude at being together in one room, with the Meet & Greet as a collaborative springboard for the work ahead. “Well, to speak for the cast,” Kate said to laughter (Bo-Nita is a one-woman play), “I can’t imagine a better place to do this.” And Gretchen echoed that sentiment by saying, “It’s so cool the company comes to surround the art being created with everyone working on the show.”

 

Director Gretchen Corbett, Kate Eastwood Norris (Bo-Nita) and Stage Manager Emily Wells check out the scale model of the set.

 

Director Gretchen Corbett won almost universal popularity for furnishing everyone with cinnamon lollipops, all before sharing with us her profound insights on the play. “I love our heroine,” Gretchen said with a big smile across her face. “She’s so scrappy, but moves through the world with grace and sophistication. But she’s still a kid.”

Next week, we’ll share more of Gretchen’s insights with you in an extended interview, along with thoughts from the play’s Movement Coach, Kemba Shannon.

Just to make our JAW-themed-week-in-review complete, it’s worth noting that the Reading Committee met again Wednesday for its weekly review of the work now trickling in. JAW submissions are due February 1st and the committee anticipates its annual flood in the coming days and weeks as the deadline approaches. What new playwright will have their words presented to the public this summer? For Bo-Nita, JAW is where it all began.

And as if all that weren’t enough, there were still meetings and conferences, budget discussions and season planning, a photo shoot in the studio, opening night parties with surprise performances and hat parades on the Mezzanine. (And we still managed to get two pianos tuned.)

 

Chinglish runs through Febuary 9. Tickets available HERE.

Bo-Nita runs Febuary 1 – March 16. Tickets available HERE.
 

This blog post was a collaboration with Alice Hodge and RJ Hodde.
Go ahead, call us The Dream Team. We don't mind. 

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