Season 12

Anya Pearson Makes Her Third Rail Debut

We are thrilled to introduce Anya Pearson, making her Third Rail debut as Seneca in Men on Boats this March.

Anya is an accomplished actress, playwright, poet, producer, and activist. Anya is the inaugural winner of the prestigious $10,000 Voice is a Muscle Grant from the Corporeal Voices Foundation run by best-selling author Lidia Yuknavitch. She is currently working on the development of her choreopoem, Made to Dance in Burning Buildings, which is a fusion of poetry, theatre, and violent and visceral contemporary dance, and is also in the process of publishing her first collection of poetry. Favorite roles include Eve in Come to the Table, Mike Pence for Shaking the Tree, Nikki in Hands Up for August Wilson’s Red Door Project, Rebecca in The Call for Profile Theatre, and Antipholus/Adriana/Bobby (and others) in Bomb-itty of Errors for Post Five Theatre. She is a graduate of the prestigious two-year program at the William Esper Studio in New York City and the writing program at Marylhurst University. Her best production is truly her 5 ½-year-old daughter Aidan.



Q & A with Anya Pearson

TR: What excites you about Men On Boats?

AP: I am excited about Men On Boats because I am excited by women reclaiming the male narrative. In this country, at this time, it is both a dangerous and a thrilling proposition to be a woman. Especially a strong woman. With all of the information that is coming to light about all of the sexual harassment, assault and general bad behavior of men that has been swept under the rug for generations, it is amazing. liberating, and thrilling to be a part of a story that is female-centric, female-driven, all female in cast and direction, and is intentionally subverting the patriarchy.

TR: What has been the greatest adventure of your life so far?

AP: The greatest adventure of my life has been motherhood. It is full of surprises, laughter, challenges, exhaustion, tears, frustration, and the most profound and deep joy and love I have ever experienced.


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Third Rail Welcomes Jennifer Lanier as Powell in Men On Boats

Third Rail is thrilled to welcome Jennifer Lanier to the stage as Powell in Men On Boatsopening March 2nd at the Imago Theatre.

Jennifer Lanier grew up in Greensboro, NC and received her classical acting training at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts under Gerald Freedman, Cigden Onat, and Robert Moyer. While in North Carolina, Jennifer founded the Lesbian Thesbians theatre company and also produced a number of independent projects. She became a founding fellow of the A+ Schools Program, instructing school faculties in Arts integration and curriculum enrichment. She also began working with Robert Moyer at the United Stage, bringing scripted and improvisational stories to young audiences throughout the South. The two even had a run at the Smithsonian Institution’s Discovery Theatre of Lanier’s original young audiences piece, BRER RABBIT MEETS COYOTE, exploring the challenges with growing up as an ethnically mixed person. Lanier expanded the piece into a solo comedy called NONE OF THE ABOVE which she has toured to colleges, theatre festivals, and Pride events throughout the country. She currently has a production company, Many Horses Productions, which produces variety shows, drag events, and theatre.

Lanier’s resume is extensive and varied. She has worked in regional theatre (American Stage, Portland Playhouse, Ruth Foreman Theatre, Coho Theatre) touring theatre (People’s Art Action, Artist’s Repertory Theatre, Original Practice Shakespeare, United Stage), television(guest star on Leverage, Hawaii, Grimm), national & regional commercials, and film (Scrapper, Last Champion, Legend of Two Path). Lanier lives in Vancouver WA with her wife, two sons, a costume-loving dachshund, a cantankerous cat, an anorexic tortoise, and a singing guinea pig.

Q & A with Jennifer Lanier


TR: What excites you about Men On Boats?


JL: Men On Boats is a great opportunity to dive into lives of some of the explorers and exploiters of North America. As a Native American/African American woman, I am intrigued by the perspective of men who were so quick to discount the knowledge and experience of the native folks who lived in the areas they explored, who were so arrogant as to name places themselves. It will be interesting to explore those senses of entitlement as active choices in everyday life. I am also VERY excited to work with a groups of strong women actors in a project that will clearly need lots of collaboration and creative openness. These are the moments when I love all-women projects! A group of women coming together, discovering how the waterfalls and rapids will happen, how the boats themselves will happen is the kind of work I live for!


TR: What has been the greatest adventure of your life so far? 


JL: Exploring Denali National Park in Alaska: hiking up to a herd of Dahl sheep, seeing moose diving for water plants in a pond, watching one grizzly bear chase down another grizzly bear, laughing at baby elk romping on a mountainside, and flying over Denali as I imagined how the guys of the Sourdough Expedition managed to climb to the summit with regular ropes, fortified by dried salmon and hot chocolate.


Get Your Tickets to Men On Boats!

Introducing the Sunnyside Community Choir

Sunnyside Community ChoirWe put out the call and we’re thrilled with the response! A number of Portland-area community choirs will be appearing with us in our next Main Stage show, David Greig’s The Events. One group even formed exclusively for our production.

The Sunnyside Community Choir is comprised of Third Rail supporters – patrons, volunteers, Mentorship Company members, and friends – drawn together by their love of music and theatre. Under the guidance of noted Portland musical director Mont Chris Hubbard, the choir has been rehearsing their songs and pieces for the play over the past few weeks. They’re set to debut on opening night and will add their voices to several performances during the run.

The Events runs October  27 to November 18 at Imago Theatre.
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October 11, 2017


Joseph Gibson Makes His Third Rail Debut

We have been big fans of Joseph Gibson for a while now and we’re happy he’ll be on our Main Stage for the first time in The Events.

Originally from Houston, Joe has been acting professionally in Portland for five years. Past credits include Trevor, and We are proud to present… (both Artists Repertory Theatre), How We Got On (Portland Playhouse), Cymbeline (Anon it Moves), American Night (Teatro Milagro), Masque of the Red Death (Shaking the Tree) The Lion in Winter (Northwest Classical Theatre), and Macbeth (Northwest Classical Theatre.) In addition to touring Hands Up! (Red Door Project) this year, Joe is working with the Red Door Project on the August Wilson Monologue Competition. He is a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association and currently serves on the Portland AEA Liaison Committee.

You can see Joe now in An Octoroon, running until October 1 at Artists Repertory Theatre.

September 27, 2017

Share Your Musical Talents With Third Rail

Third Rail goes into rehearsals in just a few weeks on our next Main Stage production: David Greig’s thrilling combination of theatre and music, The Events. We’ve invited a variety of local community choirs to work with us on this uniquely theatrical experience and want to extend that invitation to our musically inclined patrons and friends.

We are forming the first ever Third Rail Choir exclusively for this production and we want you to join us. All ages and levels of experience and ability are encouraged and welcome (even if you’re primarily a shower singer).

The commitment is minimal and the impact is immeasurable:

  • One three-hour rehearsal with our esteemed music director, Mont Chris Hubbard.
  • Participation onstage with Maureen Porter and guest artist Joseph Gibson for one or more performances with the Third Rail Choir.
  • No memorization required.
  • Sheet music, vocal recordings, and backing tracks will all be available at your request so you can practice at home as you desire.

If you’re curious about the project and would like additional information or you’re ready to sign up right now, just contact Scott Yarbrough at and put SONGBIRD in the subject line. We’ll get right back to you right away.


August 28, 2017

Cristi Miles pushes the pace in Lungs

We are thrilled to have the amazing Cristi Miles back with us to launch our 2017-18 season! You may remember Cristi from our production of Midsummer (a play with songs), or have seen her earlier this summer in Deception Unit with Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble, where she’s co-artistic director. This time around, Cristi plays the smart, excitable, and funny W in Lungs by Duncan Macmillan. We asked her to share a few thoughts on our production.

What do you like about W?

I love her directness, honesty and how she really tries to examine every decision she makes. One of her lines states:  “I want to do everything for the right reason or at least a good reason…” I’m learning from her to really think through the consequences that my decisions will have, which is good for me, as I am one to accept things without really questioning them, and she is teaching me to look beyond that.

Is there anything about her that frustrates you?

The thing that has frustrated me the most about her is learning her thought pattern and rhythm. She is a verbal processor and one that is much faster than me, so I have had to push myself and really get to know her thinking pattern, because she has a lot of incomplete thoughts and phrases and processes a LOT faster than I was ready for.

What do you think will surprise people about this show?

I hope that people will be surprised at how relatable this show is. We are talking about and wrestling with a lot of the issues that face us today, and I hope that the audience will see themselves, or at least part of themselves in these two complicated, wonderful people.

What’s been your favorite part of working with Third Rail again?

Oh gosh, my favorite thing? There are so many things I love about Third Rail! The work ethic and commitment to the honesty of the story, and the people. OR COURSE, the PEOPLE. Being surrounded and supported by the company has made me feel at home and at the same time challenged me to risk failure to strive for what’s possible… it’s been wonderful!

Lungs by Duncan Macmillan runs August 4-26 at CoHo Theatre
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August 16, 2017

In Lungs, Darius Pierce finds a friend

A Third Rail Company Member since 2015, Darius Pierce has appeared in our productions of Middletown and The Realistic Joneses. You may also seen him around town in the past year in The Santaland Diaries at Portland Center Stage or Feathers and Teeth at Artists Repertory Theatre. We’re excited that Darius is in our first 2017-18 Main Stage production – Duncan Macmillan’s Lungs. We asked him a few questions about the show.

You’ve been interested in the role of M for a while. Why?

From the first time I read this show, I felt like I understood who M is. Or, perhaps, that he understood who I am. I read the show and regularly found him giving voice to thoughts I have had and – even more penetrating – thoughts I didn’t even realize I had had. It was personal.

I think he’s moving and funny. And not the type of character that I usually have an opportunity to play. Plus, even beyond wanting to play this role, I wanted to be a part of bringing this show to the Third Rail stage.

The portrayal of the relationship of M and his partner W (played by guest artist Cristi Miles) rings so true. That means we’re not always experiencing these people as their best selves. Knowing what we know about him, could you be friends with M?

Sure! I actually love both M and W. I think I’d happily be friends with them. With M, he tries to do the right thing. And he fails sometimes. But in the examining and trying, he has an appealing energy. He’s supportive and insecure, and intellectual and needy, and conscientious and impulsive, and a full person. On balance, I think he’d be a good (if not occasionally trying) friend.

What do you think will surprise people about Lungs?

How many conversations and ideas they’ll recognize. And how the show will stay with them – working on this production, I’m surprised at how much it has permeated my day-to-day life. Plus, the way the story is told and how it moves through time – it’s unusual!

Lungs by Duncan Macmillan runs August 4-26 at CoHo Theatre

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August 16, 2017

Portland Choirs, Come Sing with Third Rail

We invite you to consider participating in a unique collaboration with Third Rail Repertory Theatre. The mission of Third Rail Repertory Theatre is to provide a dynamic artistic home for audiences and artists in Portland and to bring to life exceptional stories that provoke dialogue, encourage empathy, and inspire curiosity. This fall Third Rail is producing David Greig’s beautiful, challenging, and mighty play, The Events, and we want you to be a part of it.

Inspired by true events, The Events tells the story of Claire – a priest who leads a community choir. Claire experiences something terrible – a young man she vaguely knew turns a gun on her and her community in a mass shooting that she survives. This is not a biopic of such terrible events. The play is not filled with violent acts. Instead, it follows Claire’s attempts to answer the question “Why?”. It explores the desire to fathom the unfathomable and asks how far forgiveness will stretch in the face of atrocity. In the end, Mr. Greig’s award-winning play is a celebration of community and the inherent need for all of us to find a place where we belong.

The Events is written for two actors, an accompanist and a community choir. Part spectator, part performer, the choir is fully integrated into the play through songs and, in some instances, through dialogue. The choir acts as symbolic Greek-chorus, community members and witnesses to Claire’s story. It’s a wholly unique piece of writing combining the beauty of choral music and the storytelling of theatre.

This is where you come in. Third Rail will present 17 performances of The Events and we are looking to incorporate a different choir for each performance. Choirs will sing a song of their own choosing as well as preparing material that is part of the play. A full packet including accompanist music, backing tracks and recordings of the songs will be supplied to each participating choir. Choirs need to prepare the material in advance.

We’d love to schedule time to talk with you in person about the opportunity. Here are some further details:

• Performances run Thursday – Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 2 pm, October 24-November 18, 2017. October 24-26 are dress rehearsals and preview performances at the Imago Theatre space on 17 SE 8th Avenue.
• We are looking for choirs with participants numbering between 12 – 45.
• Each choir will be asked to be familiar with seven pieces of original music ranging from 1 to 7 pages and, on average, 40 measures long. Music may be held and read during the show. We do not expect, demand, or even desire, a polished performance of these songs.
• Choirs will also perform a song that is representative of their work. Something “…bright and bold and offering a strong sense of their identity.”
• Actors and director will attend a choir rehearsal to foster familiarity between the choir and the show.
• We would like to schedule at least one group rehearsal with all the choirs or an individual rehearsal with each choir.
• Choirs will be asked to arrive before the house opens on their performance night to walk through the show with the actors.
• Choir will be invited to participate in post show conversations with audiences.
• Choirs will be invited to share promotional materials for program, website and lobby.

Please note: The play does address adult themes quite directly and, as such, contains language and situations best suited to mature audiences and participants. Third Rail can provide scripts, scores, and music recordings to review. We are also available to answer and address any questions or concerns you might have.

Interested? Please contact our director, Scott Yarbrough, at

July 17, 2017