Show

What’s Coming Up at Third Rail Rep

The night is alive…with pirates!
The Night Alive

The third show of our 9th Season is Conor McPherson’s moving, humorous, deeply introspective glance at how we define our place in the twisted mess that is life, The Night Alive.  Opening February 20th and starring company members (and Portland theatre stalwarts) Damon Kupper, Mike O’Connell, and Rolland Walsh, this beautiful, stirring play about compassion, love and who we choose to share our lives with, is sure to please. Get your tickets now before they’re gone!

NT Live Treasure Island

Our next National Theatre Live production, Treasure Island, also appears on the horizon…land ho! Get your tickets for our March 14th showings of this family-friendly production spectacular at the World Trade Center Theatre by clicking here!

NT Live in January

Two great plays from National Theatre Live

JOHN

Saturday, January 31 @ 2pm & 7pm

Internationally renowned DV8 Physical Theatre brings their powerful new production to the National Theatre. DV8 Physical Theatre has produced 18 highly acclaimed dance-theatre works and four films for television, which have garnered over 50 national and international awards.

The company’s new production, JOHN, authentically depicts real-life stories, combining movement and spoken word to create an intense and moving theatrical experience. Lloyd Newson, DV8’s Artistic Director, interviewed more than 50 men asking them frank questions, initially about love and sex. One of those men was John.

What emerged was a story that is both extraordinary and touching. Years of crime, drug use and struggling to survive lead John on a search in which his life converges with others, in an unexpected place, unknown by most.

Don’t miss this eagerly anticipated new production, broadcast live from the National Theatre.

NOTE: JOHN contains adult themes, strong language and nudity. Suitable for 18yrs+.

Treasure Island

Sunday, February 1 @ 2pm & 7pm
Saturday, March 14 @ 2pm & 7pm

Suitable for 10 years +

Robert Louis Stevenson’s story of murder, money and mutiny is brought to life in a thrilling new stage adaptation by Bryony Lavery, broadcast live from the National Theatre.

It’s a dark, stormy night. The stars are out. Jim, the inn-keeper’s granddaughter, opens the door to a terrifying stranger. At the old sailor’s feet sits a huge sea-chest, full of secrets. Jim invites him in – and her dangerous voyage begins.

Happy New Year

Looking for some fun in the new year? Third Rail has exactly what you need!

First, we have hilarious entertainment for you, your family, and your friends with the wild quick-change romp:

The Mystery of Irma Vep by Charles Ludlam.

Critics at the Oregonian named it a “Best Bet” for the winter theatre season, and it’s been described as “…one of the best laugh-out-loud farces I’ve ever seen!” (Broadway World).

Running through January 10 at the Winningstad Theatre right in downtown Portland, this play is a sure-fire break from the usual holiday fare.

Tickets available HERE


And if you are looking for something a little more serious, we are thrilled to be presenting National Theatre Live’s screening of the hit Broadway production of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, starring James Franco and Chris O’Dowd (Tony-nominated for his performance).

January 3rd and 4th at 2 PM and 7 PM.

Screenings at the World Trade Center Auditorium (121 SW Salmon St., Portland, OR)

Get tickets here!

National Theatre Live with Third Rail Rep

For three years, Third Rail Rep has been hosting the screenings from the National Theatre Live program. We invite you to join us for some spectacular upcoming plays in the New Year.

What is National Theatre Live?

National Theatre Live is the National Theatre’s groundbreaking project to broadcast the best of British theatre from the London stage to cinemas around the world.

How do they do it?

Though each live broadcast is filmed in front of a live audience in the theatre, cameras are carefully positioned throughout the auditorium to ensure that cinema audiences get the ‘best seat in the house’ view of each production. Where these cameras are placed is different for each broadcast, to make sure that cinema audiences enjoy the best possible experience every time.

Where do Third Rail NT Live screenings take place?

All NT Live screenings are at the World Trade Center in Portland at 121 SW Salmon Street Portland 97204

How do I get tickets for Third Rail NT Live productions?

Call our box office at 503-235-1101
Click here
Buy a 6-ticket NT Live punch card by calling 503-235-1101

What NT Live screenings are coming next to Portland through Third Rail?


Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

January 3-4 & February 8, 2015
Golden Globe® winner and Academy Award® nominee James Franco (127 Hours, Milk) and Tony Award® nominee Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids, Girls) star in the hit Broadway production Of Mice And Men, filmed on stage by National Theatre Live. This landmark revival of Nobel Prize-winner John Steinbeck’s play is a powerful portrait of the American spirit and a heartbreaking testament to the bonds of friendship.


Skylight by David Hare

January 11 & 17, 2015
Bill Nighy (Love Actually, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) and Carey Mulligan (Inside Llewyn Davis, The Great Gatsby) feature in the highly anticipated production of David Hare’s Skylight, directed by Stephen Daldry (The Audience) and broadcast live from the West End by National Theatre Live.

On a bitterly cold London evening, schoolteacher Kyra Hollis (Carey Mulligan) receives an unexpected visit from her former lover, Tom Sergeant (Bill Nighy), a successful and charismatic restaurateur whose wife has recently died. As the evening progresses, the two attempt to rekindle their once passionate relationship only to find themselves locked in a dangerous battle of opposing ideologies and mutual desires.


JOHN with DV8 Physical Theatre

January 18 & 31

NOTE: JOHN contains adult themes, strong language and nudity; suitable for 18yrs+

Internationally renowned DV8 Physical Theatre brings their powerful new production to the National Theatre. JOHN authentically depicts real-life stories, combining movement and spoken word to create an intense and moving theatrical experience. Lloyd Newson, DV8’s Artistic Director, interviewed more than 50 men asking them frank questions, initially about love and sex. One of those men was John.

What emerged was a story that is both extraordinary and touching. Years of crime, drug use and struggling to survive lead John on a search in which his life converges with others, in an unexpected place, unknown by most.


Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

March 14 & 15, 2015
Suitable for 10 years +
Robert Louis Stevenson’s story of murder, money and mutiny is brought to life in a thrilling new stage adaptation by Bryony Lavery, broadcast live from the National Theatre.
It’s a dark, stormy night. The stars are out. Jim, the inn-keeper’s granddaughter, opens the door to a terrifying stranger. At the old sailor’s feet sits a huge sea-chest, full of secrets. Jim invites him in – and her dangerous voyage begins.

Quick-Changes, Holidays, and the Best Pommes Frites in Town

‘Twas just before Christmas and throughout Third Rail Rep
Everyone was excited about Irma Vep
The place was abuzz like bees in a hive
Because of the plays with National Theater Live

With great plays and great gifts for the theatre lover
For the holidays Third Rail Rep’s got you covered

Tis the season, and Third Rail has everything you need to celebrate the holidays:

The Mystery of Irma Vep
A little holiday entertainment for you, your family, and your friends with some great Portland live theatre and the hilarious quick-change romp The Mystery of Irma Vep, December 5 – January 10.


Nel CentroExceptional food with a $10 discount at the fabulous Nel Centro restaurant (just short walk from the Winningstad Theatre), where you’ll find delicious starters and salads, homemade pastas, fantastic entrees and desserts, and the best French fries in the city. (Coupon provided by Third Rail with all Irma Vep ticket purchases.)


National Theater Live Punch CardThe perfect gift for everyone on your list: Tickets to Third Rail Main Stage Plays and National Theatre Live single-show tickets as well as 6-ticket punch cards (great for stocking stuffers).


24 Days of GivingAnd for your end-of-year giving, check out Third Rail’s 24 Days of Giving Campaign.

The Relevance of Charles Ludlam’s The Mystery of Irma Vep

by Philip Cuomo

What is the value of understanding the context within which a play was written or conceived?

The Mystery of Irma Vep: A Penny Dreadful written by Charles Ludlam in 1984 is a creation of its time and place. The beauty of the ridiculous action is that it withstands the test of time for both its entertainment value and its relevancy.

“Irma Vep, relevant?” you ask. “Well, yes,” I say. “A social comment” in the ridiculous and melodramatic action celebrated for years for making people laugh. Understanding New York City and the audience of Ludlam’s Ridiculous Theatre Company makes the comments and relevance clearer.

When I began this project I assumed camp, cross-dressing, and the trappings of the Ridiculous Theatre Company were one place in which Ludlam and his life partner, Everett Quinton, could freely be themselves. It is a tenant of camp and drag that one is given the opportunity to be more of one’s self away from the roles forced on people by social norms and mores. It is my experience that the ferocious energy necessary to sustain the style of any play leaves the participant raw and exposed. Camp requires heightened energy and extreme commitment. I naively thought Ludlam simply found a world in which he could be himself.

The truth is that in the 1970s when the Ridiculous Theatre Company was making a name for itself, it was illegal to cross-dress in public. Ellen Stewart, who ran La Mamma and championed Ludlam’s company, would stand on the sidewalk of East Fourth Street during productions to keep an eye out for the police. And so just the creation of the play itself was a subversive act and hence a social comment.

Ludlam wrote, “Take things very seriously, especially focusing on those things held in low esteem by society and revealing them, giving them new meaning, new worth, by changing their context.”

With Irma Vep he gives new meaning to the performance style of camp. He also does this for the literary form the Penny Dreadful, which was a 19th-century serial similar to the work that Charles Dickens was doing. A Dickens serial would cost a shilling, but a Penny Dreadful would cost simply a penny. The market for such works was working-class adolescent boys; a group who had very little money but enough to pay for some type of entertainment. Hence the Penny Dreadfuls were stories about vampires, werewolves, mummies, and rich and exotic places—entertainments held in low esteem by society and high culture.

By the time Luldlam wrote The Mystery of Irma Vep in 1984 the AIDS Epidemic had hit in full force. There existed in the gay community an unknown horror that was sucking the life out of its community members. People were dying gothic and horrific deaths. Ludlam chose a particular style (the Penny Dreadful that was held in low-esteem) in order to tell a story about unexplainable, sudden, and horrific deaths. And within this structure, he explored death and fear and hope and companionship and love—and he gave the form new meaning and relevance.

BY 1984, Ludlam had been working in his unique and entertaining style for years, cultivating an audience and delivering entertainment that was driven by his personal life. The Mystery of Irma Vep was written for him and his life partner Quinton to perform. Their intimate relationship in the face of the AIDS epidemic (where so many people lost friends, family, and loved ones) is one layer in the fantastic quick-changes of characters that makes up the story.

The sad truth is that Charles died in 1989 from complications related to AIDS. Decades before he and the love of his life, Everett, could be married and face the future and the unknown together in a public embrace. Today that basic human right is now given to many people and the fears and frightening moments that life may reveal are now shared intimately and openly regardless of sexual orientation.

Understanding the Mystery of Irma Vep

by Director Philip Cuomo

Third Rail Core Company member Philip Cuomo gives us some insights into directing the very funny and challenging The Mystery of Irma Vep by Charles Ludlam. Be sure to bring the whole family to this hilarious, quick-change romp of a play, December 5, 2014 – January 10, 2015. 

Welcome to The Mystery of Irma Vep.  Playwright Charles Ludlam refers to his play as a Penny Dreadful, which (according to our crack dramaturgical team) is a 19th-century British publication that featured lurid serial stories, each part costing a penny—as opposed to Dickens’ work that cost a shilling. Charles (I feel like he wouldn’t mind me calling him by his first name) used a vast array of elements that would attract readers of Popular (with a capitol P) culture in the 19th century: monsters, mummies, vampires, werewolves, etc.  The play embraces the romantic, the gothic, the melodramatic and, most fully, the ridiculous. In fact, Charles named the theatre company that he founded and ran for 20 years The Ridiculous Theatre Company.  (For more insight into Charles and his company, check out the article on the next page.)

In Irma Vep, Charles writes one opulent detail on top of another all in service of celebrating the form of the Penny Dreadful; all to delight and entertain today’s audience.  His advice on how to do this?  “Take things very seriously, especially focusing on those things held in low esteem by society and revealing them, giving them new meaning, new worth…”

Wonderful!  To be given permission to take monsters, mummies, werewolves, and vampires so seriously and to revel in their magic. To work on moments requiring outlandish commitment, revealing how dangerous, scary, and dramatic living and loving truly are, and how we must pursue our need for love and so live boldly and shamelessly.  Amazing!

Producing Irma Vep is a magnificent opportunity for Third Rail to ply our craft to the fullest, to embrace high-wire derring-do, and stretch our imaginations in order to create Charles’ amazing, ridiculous world.  No matter how serious or ridiculous, Charles has written a sensational entertainment that we have the pleasure to share with you, sharing the same space and breathing the same air so that together we can manifest wonder and mystery. What a gift.

Streetcar and Skylight Double Header

This Sunday, Third Rail is bringing you a roller coaster of romance and world class performances with a double header of A Streetcar Named Desire and Skylight. If you’ve never experienced a National Theater Live screening before, come find out what you’ve been missing!


A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams (FINAL PERFORMANCE) at 2 o’clock

First, our final showing of the Young Vic’s record-setting production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Gillian Anderson takes the lead in a performance that has been described as “otherworldly”. Think you can tell the difference between her role as Blanche and her acclaimed turn on X-Files?


Skylight by David Hare (SNEAK PREVIEW) at 7 o’clock

In the evening, we are presenting a special preview showing of Skylight, starring Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan. David Hare speaks about the challenges and joys of bringing back a production 18 years after it’s original run. Be the first to see this production before its run on Broadway in the spring!

The Mystery of Irma Vep by Charles Ludlam

Last year Third Rail made a splash at the holidays with our record-setting production of NOISES OFF, which many consider the funniest play written in the past 25 years. This year we’re at it again with perhaps the funniest American play of the past 25 years: Charles Ludlam’s quick change romp, THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP. Two actors play all the roles in this hilarious send up of Victorian melodrama, farce, 50’s horror movies, Wuthering Heights, and Hitchcock’s Rebecca. With elaborate quick changes performed in mere seconds, wildly absurd characters, and an absolute distaste for anything serious, IRMA VEP should be the perfect gut-busting escape from all that holiday noise!

Staring Isaac Lamb and Leif Norby.