Articles about Aphra Behn

October 5 – October 11, 2015

This is a week of change at Third Rail as we move from one play to another! This weekend is your last chance to see Or, – the story of Aphra Behn that covers “the thoughtful and the madcap, the silly and sublime, the sociologically resonant and the fancifully theatrical” (Oregon Artswatch).

Or, is a spirited romp that also has a lot to say about the complexity of sex, gender, and being one of the first woman writers ever. Portland Mercury

The show has been winning over audiences for weeks, but you have just a few chances left to see what all the raves have been about!

Then, on Sunday, after the final performance of Or, we will transform the theatre once again into the set and setting for our next show, The Realistic Joneses. Much more information about this production will hit this space in the coming weeks. For now, know that we are thrilled to bring you a show about which the New York Times said, “Plays as funny and moving, as wonderful and weird as The Realistic Joneses, by Will Eno, do not appear often on Broadway. Or ever, really.”

But you better get your tickets to see Or, before it closes. Because THAT beautiful set is coming down Sunday! So what are you waiting for? Get clicking!

Or, Dramaturgy

Here at Third Rail we’ve enjoyed the services of two magnificent dramaturgs, Brian Myers and Ellen Walkley, for several years. They’ve been with us since 2011 when they took over managing our NT Live program, and took over dramaturgical duties from Larkin Sackett (who ran off to a little school called Columbia University to pursue her MFA) during Sweet and Sad. They both hold PhDs from UC Berkeley, and we are blessed to have their incredible brains in the rehearsal room. Brian and Ellen tend to tag-team our seasons, each taking the lead on alternating shows, so we asked Ellen to write up a bit of information about our upcoming show Or, by Liz Duffy Adams:

 looks ripe for the easiest of a dramaturg’s job—researching historical references—but it is less immediately yielding to the more difficult task of finding the heart of the script. Charles II was indeed fond of exclaiming “Odd’s fish,” for example, but his visit to Aphra in debtor’s prison is pure fiction. Aphra spied, London burned, the plague raged, Charles returned and theaters reopened, but this play is not dependent on a precise chronology.
Adams directs us in many ways to the play’s essence. In her stage directions, she states that the play is set during the Restoration “but plays off the echoes between the late 1660s, the late 1960s and the present.” These echoes are evident in the diction, which is often anachronistic; “kinky,” “It girl,” “quickie,” and “nostalgia queen” are not words likely heard in Charles’ court. Echoes between the 1660s and 1960s are also found in the background of the play, unfolding as it does in the midst of an unpopular war and the loosening of sexual morés. The pastoral lyricism of Aphra’s speech about Arcadia and Nell’s restatement of that speech in contemporary terms matches the joys of Arcadia with the expectations of the Age of Aquarius.

But Adams suggests that this combination of destruction and hope can be found in any age. Her primary interest is in a “subculture that can look incredibly naïve, but is exactly what gives us hope.” The advice that Nell gives Aphra could work as well in the present as it does in the 1660s:

Nell: We are lucking to be alive right now. This is our utopia, and it’s never going to end.
Aphra: How lovely it would be to believe that.
Nell: O, just choose to believe it, that’s what I do.

Or, Opens Tonight!

Join us on tonight, September 18, for the Opening Night of Or, by Liz Duffy Adams and help us kick off our Main Stage productions for the year.

A dazzling, word-fueled, seductive romp Or, ricochets across the stage with playful, sexy wit. Set over the course of one night in the life of playwright Aphra Behn against a background of a long drawn-out war and a counter-culture of free love, the 1660s look remarkably recognizable in this neo-Restoration comedy.

The show opens today and runs through October 10. See you soon!

Or, A Little Valentine to Love in the Theatre

Our next production is Or, by the extraordinary, contemporary American playwright Liz Duffy Adams. We have long been a fan of Adams’s work and are thrilled to be sharing it with you! Or, premiered in 2009 at the Women’s Project Theater in New York.

Set over the course of a single evening, Aphra Behn – poet, actress, spy, and one of the first professional female playwrights of the Restoration – has the opportunity to land her first commission for a professional company if she can deliver her play by dawn. Complicating this task are an array of lovers and rivals, from a rogue-spy to a blossoming ingénue to the king himself, vying for her time and affection. With echoes of Restoration comedy, quick-change farce, a dash or two of Tom Stoppard, and the sexual revolution of the 1960’s, Or, is a little valentine to love in the theatre.

Our production is being helmed by director Philip Cuomo with Maureen Porter playing the poet/actress/spy/playwright Aphra Behn. It also stars Damon Kupper and Amy Newman playing six roles between them! Cuomo, Porter, and Kupper are long-time Third Rail Company Members and Newman has been a favorite on our stage in Noises OffMiddletown, and her Drammy-winning performance in Gidion’s Knot.

Our design team includes Company Member Kristeen Willis Crosser (Set), Company Member Mark Valadez (Sound), Company Member Drew Dannhorn (Props), Jessica Bobillot (Costumes), and Owen Walz (Lighting). It is a brilliant team creating a world straddling the 1660’s and the 1960’s. It is going to be a treat to see how they transform the space at Imago!

“[Adam’s] language has a natural period flavor and a formidable wit; her characters possess the spark of fully animated spirits; and she weaves into her story both biographical detail and cultural context with grace. More remarkably, the play succeeds on its own terms as a potted pastiche of Restoration comedy as well as a lively showcase for the actors.” The New York Times

September 18, 2015 – October 10, 2015
Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays at 2:00pm
17 SE 8th Ave, Portland, OR 97214

Tickets are available now! (Though, you can attend the show as much as you like by becoming a Member!)

Or, First Read

Scott Yarbrough

A great group of Third Rail Members joined the cast, designers, and production team at the first-read for Or, on Monday night. Historically, our first-reads have only been open to Third Rail Core Company and members of the board, but with our new Membership model, we’re cultivating a deeper relationship with our patrons by including Members in the process of page-to-stage… and we’re so frickin’ excited!

We all gathered to hear our director (Core Company Member Philip Cuomo) speak about his vision for the show, and to listen (and watch) design presentations by an impressive design team. After snacks and beers, we regrouped to hear the actors read the play, together, for the very first time.

Or, is set in the 1660s (or is it the 1960s?), and is based on an imagined meeting between the (very real) Aphra Behn, England’s first professional playwright, the (also very real) Nell Gwyn, a famous Restoration actress, the (real) William Scot, an English spy in the Second Anglo-Dutch War, and the (yes, THE) Charles II, King of England. It’s funny, beautiful and it bends sexuality and gender and time with bawdy glee. We couldn’t be more excited to be opening our season with this show.

Want a run-down of the team? Check out our post on the cast and creative team. Would you like to attend one of our production’s first-reads? We would love for you to join us! Read this to learn more about becoming a Member of Third Rail.

Brian Myers