Frida … A Self Portrait
“Colorful and imaginative”
Set on the eve of Frida Kahlo’s death, this intimate show plunges into the brilliant, nuanced world of Kahlo’s tumultuous, extraordinary life. Brazilian writer and performer Vanessa Severo cracks open a powerful portal between herself and the celebrated Mexican painter, bringing breathtaking physicality and raw honesty to this stunningly creative production.
“Colorful and imaginative … a deeply affecting drama that leaves an ineradicable imprint.”
OPB's "Think Out Loud" talked to writer and performer Vanessa Severo about the evolution of the show, and about the parallels she draws between Frida Kahlo’s life and her own experience as an artist and a person with a disability.
We invited local artists to bring their sketchbooks to a performance of Frida ... A Self Portrait and draw whatever inspired them about the experience. Here are the results!
There are six Frida Kahlo paintings represented in Vanessa's performance, can you figure out which ones? Discover one hundred of Frida's works and try to spot the ones in the show!
Here is a brief summary of Frida ... A Self Portrait.
The director of Frida ... A Self Portrait discusses Frida Kahlo's legacy as a woman and historical figure, and reflects on how writer/performer Vanessa Severo finds the truth of Frida's humanity while exploring her own.
In this 2019 interview, the writer and performer of Frida ... A Self Portrait unveils how she came to blend Kahlo’s life with her own experiences.
Frida … A Self Portrait
|Written & Performed by||Vanessa Severo*|
|Directed by||Joanie Schultz|
|Scenic Designer||Jacqueline Penrod|
|Costume Designer||Katherine Davis|
|Lighting Designer||Rachael Cady|
|Sound Designer & Original Compositions||Thomas Dixon|
|Stage Manager||Janine Vanderhoff*|
|Assistant Stage Manager||Danny Rosales*|
*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
Meet the Cast & Creative Team
Vanessa is thrilled to have Frida … A Self Portrait nurtured and further developed here at the beautiful Portland Center Stage. Regional Acting: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Frida … A Self Portrait, Sex with Strangers, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, August Osage County, Cabaret, Lot’s Wife (KCRep); Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night (Heart Of America Shakespeare Festival); The Revolutionists, Men on Boats, Mother F**ker with the Hat, Venus in Fur, The Clean House (The Unicorn Theatre). Fellowships/Residencies/Awards: Recipient of the TCG 11th Round of the Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellowships, 2017 (KCRep), Frida … A Self Portrait (2020 Kilroys’ List), certified in Suzuki method and Viewpoints under the instruction of Ellen Lauren, SITI Company. Education: Studied at Missouri State University, as well as The American Conservatory Theatre, San Francisco. Vanessa deeply thanks Marissa Wolf, her parents Miguel and Paula, and (always) John and Ava.
Joanie is a Chicago-based director of theater and opera. She has directed at theaters that include KCRep, Studio Theatre, Cleveland Play House, Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and Philadelphia Theatre Company. In 2017-2018, Joanie was artistic director of WaterTower Theatre in Texas. Prior, Joanie was an associate artistic producer at Victory Gardens Theater, as part of the Leadership U One-on-One Fellowship funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation administered through TCG. She was also a Drama League Fellow; a Goodman Theatre Michael Maggio Director Fellow; an SDSF Denham Fellow; and a member of the Lincoln Center Theatre Directors Lab.
Jacqueline’s award-winning design work has been seen in Chicago and regionally. She is very happy to be back in the theater. Some favorite productions include: Around the World in Eighty Days for Lookingglass Theatre, Eclipsed for Pegasus Theatre, The Book of Will and Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley for Northlight Theatre Company, Richard III for The Gift Theater produced at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Stick Fly for Windy City Playhouse, Welcome Home Jenny Sutter for Next Theatre Company, Pygmalion and Love and Information for Remy Bumpo Theatre Company. Jackie spent her pandemic time creating puppets. Member of United Scenic Artists. penroddesign.com
Katherine is a costume designer and technician based out of Kansas City. She holds an M.F.A. in costume design from the University of Missouri – Kansas City and a B.F.A. in production and design from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Some of her recent designs include Sonnets from an Old Century with Texas Tech University, Dracula; a Song of Love and Death with Kansas City Actor’s Theatre, Men on Boats with the Unicorn Theatre, and Frida … A Self Portrait with KCRep.
Rachael is a lighting and projection designer based in Kansas City, MO. Her designs have been seen at theaters all over the country, including KCRep, Arizona Repertory Theatre, Seacoast Repertory Theatre, and Alley Theatre to name a few. Rachael is so happy to return to PCS. Previously Rachael designed projections for the production of It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues.
Thomas is a Chicago-based sound designer and composer. His work has been heard at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, KCRep, Cleveland Play House, Victory Gardens Theater, Jackalope Theatre Company, and Steep Theatre Company, where he is a member of the ensemble. Thomas teaches design at DePaul University and Columbia College Chicago.
Janine is thrilled to be in her sixth season at Portland Center Stage at The Armory. Previous credits at The Armory include: Hedwig & The Angry Inch, Macbeth, The Breath of Life, Tiny Beautiful Things, Christmas Memory/Winter Song, Wild & Reckless, Lauren Weedman Doesn't Live Here Anymore, The Santaland Diaries, The Oregon Trail, Little Shop of Horrors, JAW, Great Expectations, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Our Town. Other Portland credits include Portland Opera’s Sweeney Todd (followspot caller); DC Copeland's Play (stage manager/production manager); Portland Playhouse's How to End Poverty in 90 Minutes and The Other Place (stage manager). Touring stage management credits include: The Graduate (starring Morgan Fairchild), Cats, The Vagina Monologues, Jekyll & Hyde and Show Boat. While in New York, Janine had the opportunity to work on The Lion King on Broadway, as well as with many Off-Broadway and regional companies. Production management credits include: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for “Democalypse 2012 Republican National Convention” (Tampa, FL); Straz Center (Tampa, FL); The Fox Theatre (Atlanta, GA). Proud NYU graduate and AEA member.
Danny is ecstatic to be back at Portland Center Stage, where his previous credits include The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The Magic Play, and Every Brilliant Thing. Some of his favorite stage management credits include The Brothers Paranormal (CoHo Productions/MediaRites’ Theatre Diaspora); Here on This Bridge: The -Ism Project (MediaRites’ Theatre Diaspora); and A Map of Virtue (Theatre Vertigo). When he’s not busy working on shows, you can usually find him playing with trash or eating too much ice cream.
What Critics are Saying
"The back and forth between Kahlo’s and Severo’s stories is the edge that makes this a bigger story than a self-portrait of Kahlo or reflection of the author. It broadens the reach of what we all have in common with one another." - Oregon ArtsWatch
What Audiences are Saying
"Frida shattered me. Vanessa Severo weaves her own story and discovers Frida's life in characters and movement. The pain and joy of life, triumph of self-discovery, power in learning and owning who you are...I'm going to think about it for a long time. Go see it."
"Incredible. There is nothing like it. Vanessa is astounding."
"Such a great actor, and innovative use of stage and props. The shift between Vanessa's role as Frida and her authentic self added to the emotion of it."
"Raw, visceral, brilliant and moving."
"It was fantastic!!!! So creative and real and Vanessa Severo is amazing. We were thrilled."
"Magnificent, flawless, moving."
"Unique. Engaging. Informative. Funny. Maximum entertainment!"
"Ahmazing and even better than I’d hoped for! The production was brilliant and imaginative, honoring Frida, her passion, and her legacy."
"Vanessa Severo’s performance was breathtaking. From the moment she walked on the stage as herself to the moment of Frida’s death. Brilliant."
"It was imaginative, well crafted, funny, and beautifully done."
Get a sneak peek into the world of Frida Kahlo in this teaser trailer for Frida ... A Self Portrait!
Top of page: Photo by Brian Paulette
Portland Center Stage is committed to identifying & interrupting instances of racism & all forms of oppression, through the principles of inclusion, diversity, equity, & accessibility (IDEA).