JAW History


Every summer, we get reminded about the vitality of this ever-changing, crazy fun, wild world of theater. JAW (short for Just Add Water) takes over the Armory as the universe of artists required to make a play — writers, directors, dramaturgs, actors, stage managers — gathers to pull apart and then put back together, the newest work from some of the country's most exciting writers. At first the work is done in separate rooms, play by play; thoughtfully assembled groups with intense focus and brave brains. Then, as the two weeks reaches its final days, the building opens wide with the Big Weekend, inviting hundreds of audience members to become part of the creation by joining us for staged readings of these spanking new scripts - and a slew of performances from other Portland theaters and arts ensembles - all free and open to the public. Join us!


The Big Weekend (July 29 – 31) will feature readings of five new works; three are plays selected by the JAW reading committee, and two are workshop presentations of world premiere musicals that PCS will produce in our upcoming 2016/17 season.

Friday, July 29th
8 pm – Promising Playwrights Kick-off Event

Saturday July 30th
12 pm – The Saints by Nathan Dame
4 pm – Catch as Catch Can by Mia Chung
8 pm – Lauren Weedman Doesn’t Live Here Anymore by Lauren Weedman

Sunday, July 31st
4 pm – The Forcings by Kevin Artigue
8 pm –Wild and Reckless: A New Musical Event from Blitzen Trapper

The Forcings
by Kevin Artigue

Nobody knows what happened to “The 17,” a group of environmental activists whose disappearance from an anti-Exxon protest site in Mexico sparked international outrage. Ernie Ledezma, the public face of Exxon’s operations, navigated the corporation through the scandal, and now, on the eve of his retirement, his loved ones have gathered to celebrate. But the ghosts that haunt his achievements cast a shadow over the festivities, and the appearance of a mysterious stranger triggers a deluge of secrets to slip through his fingers. Rife with magic realism, The Forcings is a dynamic new play that stares unflinchingly at a family in crisis and a civilization barreling toward extinction.

Kevin ArtigueKevin Artigue is a playwright and filmmaker born and raised in Southern California and based in New York City. He’s currently a member of the 2016 Interstate 73 Writers Group, and formerly part of the Public Theater's 2014-2015 Emerging Writers Group. His play The Most Dangerous HIghway in the World will premiere in San Francisco in May, produced by Golden Thread and directed by Evren Odcikin. His plays have been presented and developed with The Public Theater, the National New Play Network, New York Theater Workshop, Theatre of NOTE, the Playwrights Foundation, Great Plains Theatre Conference, Yale Cabaret, Iowa New Play Festival, Golden Thread, and the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis. A graduate of the Iowa Playwrights Workshop, Kevin was awarded a Provost’s Visiting Writer Fellowship at the University of Iowa, where he taught creative writing.

Catch as Catch Can
by Mia Chung

The Phelans and the Lavecchias grew up in each other’s homes, sharing the good times and the bad in their tight-knit middle class community. But when Tim Phelan moves back home with unexpected news, the members of this extended family find their bonds and very identities put to the test. Catch As Catch Can makes unconventional use of theatrical conventions to explore the shifting roles we play in the presence of family.

Mia ChungMia Chung is the author of You For Me For You, This Exquisite Corpse, Catch as Catch Can, and Skin in the Game. You For Me For You had its UK premiere at The Royal Court Theatre in London (December 2015) and is published by Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. The play premiered at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (Washington DC, in association with Ma-Yi and supported by the NEA; 2012) and has also been produced by Company One, the Portland Playhouse, and Mu Performing Arts/Guthrie Theater. Mia’s work has been supported by awards, fellowships, and workshops, including the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Berkeley Rep Ground Floor, Civilians’ R&D Group, Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival, Icicle Creek Theatre Festival, Inkwell, LAByrinth, Playwrights Realm, RISCA, Southern Rep, the Stella Adler Studio, and TCG. She is a member of New Dramatists, a Huntington Playwright Fellow, and an emeritus member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab.

The Saints
by Nathan Dame

As a child, Madison always felt adrift. She was shuffled around from foster home to foster home, but things haven’t gone much more smoothly in adulthood. Just when her struggle for stability threatens to consume her, a chance encounter with a pair of young missionaries challenges Madison to put her past to rest and determine who she wants to become. Over the course of one gritty January in New York, The Saints chronicles the stingingly funny and poignant journey of a young woman making her way back to hope.

Nathan DameNathan Dame has had original plays and musicals developed by Roundabout Theatre Company, The New Group, Barrow Street Theater, Woodshed Collective, In Absentia Productions, and New York Theatre Experiment. He was a writer on The New Ensemble’s Experiment America, produced by the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and A.R.T. He was also a writer on Woodshed Collective’s The Office Project. He is represented by Ross Weiner at ICM.

Wild and Reckless: A New Musical Event from Blitzen Trapper

Blitzen Trapper

Portland folk rockers Blitzen Trapper refuse to be pinned down and boxed in. The acclaimed band has mixed genre after genre into their musical arsenal over the fifteen years of playing together. Now they’re unleashing their sound — and knack for lyrical storytelling — on the PCS stage. They’ve mined their Oregonian roots to create a show that asks: What’s the sound of a life falling through the cracks? Fusing the energy of a rock concert with the imaginative possibility of the theater, Blitzen Trapper and PCS join forces in this new project, tracing the unforgettable stories of ordinary Americans caught in an extraordinary struggle to not get left behind.

Lauren Weedman Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
by Lauren Weedman

Lauren Weedman

Lauren’s current obsessions: love and heartbreak; big hair and tight jeans; Loretta Lynn and John Prine — or songs she thinks make her look skinny and appropriately tragic. The hilarious and versatile Lauren Weedman (Bust, The People’s Republic of Portland) knows a thing or two about love gone wrong, and she’s ready to sing her heart out about it (Yes! Lauren sings!) and tell you a few tall tales, too. Lauren will be joined by a band of fine musicians; and we’re pretty sure her hair will be bigger than ever.

Jaw Sponsors 2016

Since launching in 1999, JAW's principal focus continues to be the playwright and the creative process. Playwrights chosen from nearly 200 submissions nationwide collaborate with directors, dramaturgs, actors, and other theater professionals from across the U.S. to read, revise, and sometimes completely re-write their scripts, discovering through the process what does or does not work in the transition from page to stage. Joining them are Promising Playwrights, high school students selected from PCS’s Visions & Voices program, who write and develop their own short plays, working alongside the professionals. All of the playwrights’ works are then presented in staged readings for the public.

The 2016 festival begins on July 18th with the public readings July 29-31.

*Dates are subject to change.*

Jaw2015 Tryptic
Left: Rehearsal of Wink by Silverman, Jaw 2015; Right: Table read for Miller, Mississippi by Boo Killibrew, Jaw 2015

As always, JAW is FREE and open to the public.

Jaw 2016 Company
JAW 2016 company.


Closed. We are no longer accepting script submissions for JAW 2016. Submissions for JAW 2017 will begin on November 1, 2016. Please check back in the fall for submission guidelines.


Jaw Confluence 2
photo credit D. Scott Ryan Photography

Dynamic performance pieces hand-selected for JAW will animate the building and engage audience members before every reading. Dancers, puppeteers and musicians will pop up throughout the building before and after readings.

Saturday July 30th

LifeStretch© Yoga With Hygeia Healing, 10:45 a.m., Ellyn Bye Studio

Astoria Conversation with Chris Coleman, 2:45 p.m., Ellyn Bye Studio

Music from Okaidja, 3:15 p.m., Main and Mezzanine Lobbies

Shaking the Tree site specific performance, 7:10 p.m & 7:40 p.m., Ellyn Bye Studio Lobby

Sunday July 31st

Theatre Vertigo reading, 2:30 p.m., Ellyn Bye Studio

Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre site specific performance, 3:40 p.m., Main and Mezzanine Lobbies

Music from Venerable Showers of Beauty, 7 p.m., Main and Mezzanine Lobbies

More information on JAW 2016 Press Play events here!


Artists from across the nation will conduct labs for our local community. Admission is FREE, but in order to maintain a high level of quality, attendance for each lab is limited and determined by random lottery.

A Dramaturg Prepares

July 29 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

With Benjamin Fainstein, Karin Magaldi & Ellen Walkley

Being a Good Host: Inviting the Creative Spirit In and Feeding It Well

July 31 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

With JAW playwright Mia Chung

Lauren Weedman's Awesome Lab!

July 31 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

With JAW playwright Lauren Weedman

More information about Community Artist Labs here!


The 18th annual JAW: A Playwrights Festival will kick off with staged readings of new scripts from six Portland-area high school playwrights. Come ready to celebrate and socialize. These Promising Playwrights are selected from our Visions & Voices Playwriting Program, a residency program offered to Portland-area schools.

This year's Promising Playwright event is July 29th, at 8:00 p.m. in the Ellyn Bye Studio.


Just a few of the hardworking folks behind the JAW festival. Contact us at jaw@pcs.org.

Rose Riordan - JAW Festival Director

Kelsey Tyler - JAW Festival Co-producer

Brandon Woolley - JAW Festival Co-producer

Don Kenneth Mason - JAW Festival Company Manager

Benjamin Fainstein - JAW Literary Manager

Mary Blair - JAW Literary Associate


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 2016 Crop

JAW is supported in part by a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust: Oregonians sustaining, developing and participating in our arts, heritage and humanities. Additional support is provided by the Regional Arts & Culture Council/Work for Art and the Oregon Arts Commision.

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