Let’s see what’s happening this week in the land of Third Rail – a land, incidentally, to which you are always invited.
We are headed into our third week of Or, performances! If you have not yet seen the show, this is the weekend to do it. We close next week, so you have to see it this week in order to have time to recommend it to people after falling in love with it!
This is also an interesting week in The Realistic Joneses process. We have a production meeting, which is where the director, all of the designers, and the production manager come together to continue the discussion about the design of the show. Generally, at this point, the discussion is largely about how to finish implementing the designs and adjustments based on what has been learned in rehearsals. Then, at the end of the week, we have our first stumble through of the show. A terrifying and exciting moment for the actors, this will be the first time that we run the show on its feet from beginning to end.
It is lovely having two shows at these different phases working under the same roof! Hopefully, we’ll see you under that same roof soon, too!
While Or, continues to delight audiences currently, our next show is Will Eno’s The Realistic Joneses. But who, you ask, will be working on that show? Who are the artists bringing this profound and hilarious show to life? Whose work will I be seeing when I get to the theatre? Well…you have a lot of questions, but we do know the answers. And here they are:
The show is being helmed by Company Member Rebecca Lingafelter! A talented and distinguished actor, director, and producer, Rebecca is an invaluable Company Member of Third Rail, as well as a founding member of the Portland Ensemble Theater Ensemble (PETE). So, in addition to seeing her directorial work in The Realistic Joneses, you will also see her when you attend PETE’s Wild Card production of All Well.
Our Sound Designer will be Company Member Mark Valadez! We are always delighted when we hear Mark’s thoughtful work during our productions. He is also the resident sound designer for PETE. So, his work will be heavily featured in All Well. Joining Mark at the design table is PETE’s resident costume designer, Jenny Ampersand. We’re thrilled that Jenny’s work will grace our stage for The Realistic Joneses, her first Third Rail design. Look for more information about our design time here as the rehearsal process continues…
- Michael O’Connell (John) has appeared in over a dozen Third Rail productions, including Drammy-winning performances in The Lying Kind and Recent Tragic Events. He also starred in last season’s production of Will Eno’s Middletown. A Third Rail Company Member from the beginning, we are always eager to see him on our stage.
- Kerry Ryan (Jennifer) became a Third Rail Company Member in 2013, and performed with us in A Bright New Boise. She has spent the last ten years holding membership with Imago Theatre, Theatre Vertigo, and the Anonymous Theatre Company. Now, she is bringing her unique and wonderful talent to our stage for the second time!
- Darius Pierce (Bob) is a recent Company Member, having joined early in 2015. He is a co-founder of the Anonymous Theatre Company and was previously a longtime member of Theatre Vertigo. Now, he’ll be speaking Will Eno’s exceptional words again after joining the cast of last year’s Middletown.
- Dana Green (Pony) has a resume far longer than we have room for here. In Portland, she’s performed at Portland Center Stage in Othello and A Midsummer Night’s Dream; at Profile Theatre in Dead Man’s Cell Phone; and here at Third Rail in Gidion’s Knot. We could not be happier to have her back on the boards with us.
All four cast members and the director of The Realistic Joneses are past Drammy recipients. Not too shabby…
These extraordinary artists are hard at work on this extraordinary script. In just a few short weeks, you – our extraordinary patrons and supporters – will be in for (you guessed it) an extraordinary night of theatre.
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:
Or, 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.
We’re in the last full week of September (already!?!) and there are still two ways to join us at the theatre before we turn the page into October.
First – Or, is in full swing and audiences are having a fantastic 90 minutes! There’s poetry, espionage, laughter, sexy times, and cross-dressing (in both directions…)! The Oregonian says:
[Maureen] Porter, with lovers literally tugging at her sleeves to hit the sheets, gracefully centers the sexual shenanigans… [Amy] Newman and Damon Kupper, playing multiple parts, make impressive character transformations… You just wish plays had a replay button…
We hope you’ll join us for the “shenanigans” and if you’re a Member, you can hit a “replay button” by seeing the show for free as often as you’d like!
Second – On Sunday, we are offering another Bloody Sunday play reading. Join us for a reading of a play that is under consideration for production… and tuck into some nibbles and morning-appropriate cocktails. This is a Members only event. If you want to attend, and get unlimited access to any Third Rail event, you can become a Member at any time!
We’re also in the midst of rehearsals and production meetings for The Realistic Joneses, which opens in just about a month. Whew! Here at Third Rail World Headquarters, we’re keeping the good times rollin’!
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!
As Or, prepares to open this Friday, our Members joined us for our first read of The Realistic Joneses. This was the second opportunity for Third Rail Members to be a part of the production experience from the very beginning.
We were introduced to the project by Third Rail Artistic Director, Scott Yarbrough, who explained how we’ve come to produce our second play by the brilliant Middletown playwright, Will Eno. Yarbrough will be involved in this production as a kind of Tom Hagen figure (consigliere) to the Don (director) a la The Godfather – his words (more or less). The Don, in this case, is Third Rail Company Member Rebecca Lingafelter. While Lingafelter has been seen several times on the Third Rail stage, this marks her first time as a Third Rail director.
The night progressed with beautiful and evocative design presentations from the creative team. It is a rare privilege to witness these creative minds transform words on a page to a vivid physical universe. Finally, we were treated to a reading of the play by the cast: Michael O’Connell, Dana Green, Darius Pierce, and Kerry Ryan. It is at once a touching, hilarious and deeply human play sure to be a must see this Fall. Watch this space to follow this production’s development over the next month, and be sure to book your tickets! Performances begin October 23rd and run through November 14th.
The season is in full swing! And if there is one season that really knows how to swing, it’s Fall. We have two productions in rehearsal, so the building is overflowing with Third Rail theatre.
On Monday, we have first read for The Realistic Joneses by Will Eno. This is always an exciting evening. We get our first look at design ideas for the show and our first listen of the play read by the full cast. If you attended the first read of Or, then you know how great an opportunity this is to begin your relationship with the show and to meet other Members and Company Members. First reads are Members’ only events!
Then, of course, we have Or,! This week, Or, will be in previews. Previews are an invaluable step in preparing a show. After the weeks of rehearsals, this is our chance to add the final, vital element of any live performance – the audience! A play in front of an audience is a different creature than a play in the rehearsal room. In previews, we have a chance to experience, experiment, and expurgate as we move towards opening the show.
Which is exactly what is happening this week! September 18th is opening night of Or,! There’s no need to tell you why you should join us for opening night, but we will because that’s what we do here in “This Week at Third Rail”. You can be among the very first people to see this hilarious and thought-provoking show! Starring Company Members Maureen Porter and Damon Kupper, and Third Rail favorite Amy Newman, Or, is sure to tickle your funny and thoughtful bones. See it with the unique energy of opening night and then celebrate with us afterward!
With our increase in programming, they’re all big weeks around here. But this one is a particular joy. In one week, Members can see the beginning of our process for The Realistic Joneses and the beginning of our run of Or,. So…we’ll definitely see you at the theatre!
Up this week is set, lights, and sound load-in for Or, in preparation for tech this coming weekend. Our designers and production team members are working round-the-clock to get the production performance-ready. And, seriously, wait until you see the design on this one. You’ll be amazed at the transformation made in the Imago space.
This coming weekend is also the Viewpoints Intensive for the members of our Mentorship Program. As you may know, Mentees receive professional training and form their own company-within-a-company at Third Rail. For this weekend’s intensive training workshop, Mentees will explore Viewpoints, a performance language that articulates specific elements of time and space, and emboldens practitioners to generate strong theatrical work spontaneously and intuitively. This training will promote collaboration for the Mentees, as well as a sense of ensemble, both fundamental values to the Third Rail mission. Instructor and Core Company Member Rebecca Lingafelter brings her chops to this workshop, drawing on her own training with two Viewpoints visionaries, Anne Bogart and Mary Overlie.
It’ll be a busy week here at Third Rail. We can’t wait to show you the fruits of our labor.
At 11:00 am on the morning of Monday, September 6th, Third Rail Company Members and any Members who wish to attend will be treated to a brand new theatrical presentation created in 36 hours by our new Mentorship Company. They will have been working hard (and sleeping little) to bring us this fully produced performance in answer to a question posed by their mentors Michael O’Connell, Rebecca Lingafelter, and Kristeen Willis Crosser.
These actors, directors, and designers will be a presence with Third Rail for the next year and this performance will be a beautiful way to meet them and let them meet you! These Mentees have come from all over the country and, in past years, many Mentees have decided to stay in Portland and have become valuable, active members of our community.
Please come show your support for these emerging artists and be able to gloat about how you knew them when! But remember – this event is for Members only! So, first, become a Member and then spend the first of many mornings at your new, dynamic artistic home!
As you know, every week, Third Rail sends out detailed information about what exciting events and projects we have for the coming week. But! Every four (or so) weeks, we get to give you an overview of a whole month! This is an enticing way to see what you have to look forward to over the next few weeks and it is a good quick-glance at just how much is happening with Third Rail and how many different ways we all have to interact with each other, especially if you are a Member! So. Here is September!
We cannot wait for our new class of Mentees to get started! This is a dynamic and diverse group of actors, directors, and designers who have traveled from all over to work and train with us for a year. You may have met a few of our Mentees at the first read of Or,. Labor Day weekend, they begin their year with an intense three days of collaborative art making. Please join us as they present their work – and themselves – to the community! Expect surprises and high voltage energy from this talented group of theatre makers.
Opens September 18
Then! We present our fall show, Or,! 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. Third Rail Company Members are all over this show with director Philip Cuomo, actors Maureen Porter and Damon Kupper, and designers Kristeen Willis Crosser, Mark Valadez, and Drew Dannhorn. Joining them are Third Rail favorites Amy Newman, Jessica Bobillot, and Owen Walz.
Even before we have opened Or,, we will have the first read for our next show, Will Eno’s The Realistic Joneses! We are thrilled to be presenting another show by the brilliant Will Eno (Middletown) – the first show of his to have had a Broadway run. Be among the first people in Portland to hear this beautiful, hilarious text out loud.
Finally, we have another Bloody Sunday play reading. Join us for a reading of a play that is under consideration by the company along with nibbles and morning appropriate cocktails. Who needs brunch when you have good theatre and Bloody Marys?
That is September in a nutshell! Keep an eye out for more details and more Third Rail goings on throughout the month. And we’ll see you around the theater!