PCS Blog

Traveling Through Time With “Three Days of Rain”

Posted by Claudie Fisher | 21 April 2015

“Richard Greenberg may be the best, most prolific American dramatist you've never heard of,” proclaimed The Telegraph in 2009, the year it praised his play Three Days of Rain as “one of the finest American plays of recent years.” With over 25 plays and many successful Broadway productions under his belt, Greenberg certainly is prolific – he’s been known to pen plays in just three days. One of the scripts produced in such a burst of writing just happens to be Three Days of Rain. Prior to writing this script, Greenberg had been focused solely on writing for film. One day, while walking home in the rain, he ran into playwright, novelist and film director Peter Hedges. As Greenberg reported to American Theatre Magazine: “We started talking, and we got excited about writing plays again - which neither one of us had been doing at that moment. It started this flurry of activity that has made me write like crazy.” Three Days of Rain was one of the first plays he penned in this newly inspired swirl of writing, and Greenberg later dedicated the play to Hedges.

The title of the play comes from a line in W. S. Merwin's poem, For the Anniversary of My Death:

As today writing after three days of rain

Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease

And bowing not knowing to what
 

In Three Days of Rain, Greenberg plays with time and perception by setting the first act in 1995 and going backwards to a previous generation for the second act, with the actors playing their characters’ own parents in 1960. “The first act is the present dreaming the past, and the second act is the past dreaming the future. The play is really about the gulf between those two ideas,” Greenberg said in an interview with Playbill in 1997 prior to the world premiere of Three Days of Rain.  He toys with the constructs of time in several of his other plays as well, including his most recent Broadway hit, The Assembled Parties, in which the second act takes place 20 years after the first. Greenberg credits the hugely popular 1967 BBC television adaptation of John Galsworthy’s The Forsyte Saga for his fascination with time. "That television experience was the foundation of my sensibilities," Greenberg told the Los Angeles Times prior to a revival of Three Days of Rain at South Coast Repertory where the play was first produced, "I want to get an entire life onstage while conveying a sense of how time feels, how unstoppable it is, and how we don't really know what's going on because as we're trying to weave, it's weaving us."
 

This production marks the debut of a Richard Greenberg play at Portland Center Stage, as well as the exciting debuts of all three actors performing the multi-generational roles: Silas Weir Mitchell, Sasha Roiz and Lisa Datz. Much like Greenberg, we’re big fans of playing with time at PCS. The traversing of ages in Greenberg’s script provides a particularly exciting opportunity for the local artisans we’ve gathered to create the 1995 and 1960’s Manhattan worlds you’ll witness in this production. All told, over 25 professional craftspeople have joined these actors and the creative team to assemble this production. The scenery and props were built in PCS’s scene shop in NW Portland; an army of painters was assembled to hand-paint the brick walls of the set; the costume shop located here in the Armory has been busy whipping up the fashions of 1995 and 1960; a crew of fifteen skilled stage hands helped bring all the technical elements together, including props, lights and sound; and a stage manager, wardrobe and run crew are on site right now supporting the actors at this performance. There have been many productions of Three Days of Rain nationally and internationally since its world premiere in 1997, but one of the great things about local theater is that this production has been designed and created specifically for these actors, in this space, at this time, in this rainy city, to be enjoyed by you, our community.
 

- Claudie Jean Fisher, Public Relations and Publications Manager
 

Three Days of Rain 
May 17 - June 22

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