JAW Turns 20!

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The Big Weekend of Staged Readings and Other Fun Stuff
July 27-29

FREE and open to the public. No reservations needed!

The Big Weekend

The JAW Big Weekend features public readings of the four new works selected by the JAW reading committee, presented at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, July 28 and 29. Kicking off the festivities,  Friday, July 27 at 8 p.m., is the work of this year’s Promising Playwrights. Surrounding the readings is the Press Play series, offering a slew of events and performances, and the Community Artist Labs, providing a chance to dig deeper into the theatrical process with members of the JAW company. 

Friday, July 27

  • Promising Playwright Kickoff Event | 8 p.m. | Ellyn Bye Studio 

Saturday, July 28

  • Community Artist Lab*: Autobiographical Writing for the Stage | 1 p.m. | Rehearsal Hall
  • "Where Are They Now" Panel of Past Jaw Playwrights | 1:30 p.m. | Ellyn Bye Studio 
  • Etsy Maker Fair | 2 p.m. | Mezzanine 
  • In the Groove Dance Battle | 3 p.m. | Main Lobby 
  • Reading: three girls never learnt the way home | 4 p.m. | U.S. Bank Main Stage 
  • Stryk-9 and 2 8 THA NATIVE Performance | 7 p.m. | Main Lobby 
  • Food art installation by Shannon Sims | 7 p.m., tasting at 7:45 p.m. | Ovation Room 
  • Reading: The Tasters  8 p.m. | U.S. Bank Main Stage 

Sunday, July 29

  • Community Artist Lab*: Exploring the Subconscious | 12 p.m. | Rehearsal Hall 
  • Community Artist Lab*: Table Work on Your Feet | 12 p.m. | Ellyn Bye Studio 
  • Five Letter Word Performance | 3 p.m. | Main Lobby 
  • Reading: Pick a Color | 4 p.m. | U.S. Bank Main Stage 
  • Contemporary Bharathanatyam performance | 7 p.m. | Main Lobby 
  • Reading: The Birds of Empathy | 8 p.m. | U.S. Bank Main Stage 

JAW events are FREE, no tickets required.

*Admission to labs is FREE, but attendance is limited and determined by lottery. To enter the lottery, email education@pcs.org with your preferred lab choice. 

Staged Readings

JAW’s BIG 2-0H brings the work of four dynamic playwrights to Portland. Matthew Paul Olmos uses magical realism and visceral theatricality to explore how children are impacted by complicated adult fears in three girls never learnt the way home. Meghan Brown serves up power, complicity, pleasure, fear ... and food ... with her outrageously funny play The Tasters. Emily Feldman challenges the way we hear women’s stories, using humor and arresting imagery in Pick a Color. And Clarence Coo presents an unusual preference to jays, sparrows and warblers over humans with The Birds of EmpathyRead about the plays and playwrights here.

Friday, July 27

  • Promising Playwrights Kickoff Event 8 p.m. | Ellyn Bye Studio 
Saturday July 28

  • three girls never learnt the way home by Matthew Paul Olmos 4 p.m. | U.S. Bank Main Stage
  • The Tasters by Meghan Brown 8 p.m. | U.S. Bank Main Stage
Sunday, July 29

  • Pick a Color by Emily Feldman 4 p.m. | U.S. Bank Main Stage
  • The Birds of Empathy by Clarence Coo 8 p.m. | U.S. Bank Main Stage

Press Play

A series of dynamic performance pieces and events hand-selected for JAW that animate the building and engage audience members before every reading. Dancers, musicians, and more pop up throughout the building adding to the vibrant festival spirit of JAW.

Friday, July 27

  • "Where Are They Now" Panel of Past Jaw Playwrights 6 p.m. | Mezzanine | FREE

Saturday, July 28

  • Etsy Maker Fair 2 p.m. | Mezzanine | FREE
  • In the Groove Dance Battle hosted by Michael Galen 3 p.m. | Main Lobby | FREE
  • Tribally influence hip-hop with Stryk-9 and 2 8 THA NATIVE 7 p.m. | Main Lobby | FREE
  • Food art installation by Shannon Sims 7 p.m., tasting at 7:45 p.m. | Ovation Room | FREE

Sunday, July 29

  • Harmony-driven folk music by Five Letter Word Performance 3 p.m. | Main Lobby | FREE
  • Tracing the Essence, Contemporary Bharathanatyam performance by Subashini Ganesan and collaborators 7 p.m. | Main Lobby | FREE

Community Artist Labs

Artists from across the nation conduct educational labs for our local community on a diversity of performance-related topics. Admission is FREE, but in order to maintain a high level of quality, attendance for each lab is limited and determined by lottery. To enter the lottery, email with your preferred lab choice. 

Saturday, July 28

  • You in Your Play: Autobiographical Writing for the Stage with playwright Emily Feldman 1 p.m. | Rehearsal Hall | FREE

    In this workshop, we will work with material drawn from our personal experiences to begin new projects or to invigorate projects that are already in process. We'll talk about different ways to harness your history, personality, and perspective in your plays and will do some exercises to help unlock some of the unexpected stories you might weave into your work.

Sunday, July 29

  • Stumbling Upon It: Exploring Writing from the Subconscious with playwright Matthew Paul Olmos 12 p.m. | Rehearsal Hall | FREE

    In-class exercises aimed at writing from a place that isn’t pre-planned, or thought-out. We will explore your voice when it is opened up to the unexpected and discuss how that writing can then be incorporated into projects you are already working on, or planning to work on. 
  • Table Work on Your Feet with Director Margot Bordelon 12 p.m. | Ellyn Bye Studio | FREE

    Moving from table work to staging can often be a tricky transition. In Table Work on Your Feet, Margot will lead participants through a series of physical exercises that explore the characters, relationships, and given circumstances around a specific text. Participants will be expected to read the short play beforehand as well as accompanying material. You will learn how to physically activate your table work, readying you to begin staging the play. Please come dressed ready to move! 

Promising Playwrights

The 20th annual JAW: A Playwrights Festival will kick off with staged readings of new scripts from Portland-area high school playwrights. Come ready to celebrate and socialize. These 10-minute plays by Promising Playwrights are selected from our Visions & Voices Playwriting Program, a residency program offered to Portland-area schools.

Jaw2017 Promising Playwrights
JAW 2017 Promising Playwrights (L-R) Bowen Hampton, Emily Smith, Lydia Fecker, Kaleb Black, Alexandria Goddard and Nathan Smith.

Script Submissions

Script submissions are accepted annually in early November by invitation only, with the exception of playwrights currently residing in Oregon, who may submit with or without invitation.

JAW Staff

Just a few of the hardworking folks behind the JAW festival. Contact us at .

Rose Riordan – Festival Director

Kelsey Tyler, Brandon Woolley & Will Cotter  – Festival Producers

Benjamin Fainstein - Literary Manager & Dramaturg       

Meagan Mulgrew - Company Manager

Clara-Liis Hillier, Eric Werner & Jonas Angelet - Education & Community Programs      

Matthew B. Zrebski - Promising Playwright Mentor & Dramaturg               

JAW 2018 Reading Committee: Mary Blair, Gretchen Corbett, Will Cotter, Benjamin Fainstein, Chris Murray, Rose Riordan, Laura Faye Smith, Kelsey Tyler and Brandon Woolley

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The 2017 JAW company.

About JAW

In 2018, JAW: A Playwrights Festival will proudly present its 20th year of championing new plays and bringing invigorating theater to Portland. For two decades now, each summer has confirmed for us the vitality of this ever-changing, crazy fun, wild world of theater when JAW (short for Just Add Water) takes over The Armory. The festival welcomes a handful of playwrights, whose scripts are chosen from nearly 200 annual submissions, to spend two weeks collaborating with directors, dramaturgs, actors, and other theater professionals from across the nation. During these workshops, JAW playwrights get to hear, revise, and sometimes completely rewrite their plays in a supportive environment where their creative needs set the agenda. The festival culminates in a vibrant outpouring of artistic energy, as staged readings of the JAW plays are presented to the public. Adding to the festivities are unique performance pieces from local artists of all disciplines and special events. And the whole thing kicks off with an evening of work by the Promising Playwrights, high school students selected from our Visions & Voices program, who write and develop their own short plays alongside the professionals. Thousands of audience members join us annually to celebrate theatrical innovation and the enduring power of storytelling. See you there!

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JAW 2017, "In Old Age" by Mfoniso Udofia in rehearsal, (L-R) director Logan Vaughn, playwright Mfoniso Udofia, and actors Jenny Jules and Marcus Henderson.

Past Seasons of JAW

Click here for a history of JAW through the years, dating back to its Portland launch in 1999.

Questions? Ask .

Accessibility Info

PCS is committed to making our performances and facilities accessible to all of our patrons. Wheelchair seating, sound amplifying devices and large print programs are available for JAW. For more information, visit our accessibility page.

Jaw Sponsors 2018
Jaw2017 Test Match
Actors in rehearsal for "Testmatch" by Kate Attwell, JAW 2017, (L-R) Renata Friedman, Laura Faye Smith, Mahira Kakkar, Dana Green, Tanya Selveratnam.

Season Sponsors


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