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!

Woman Crush Wednesday: Sylvia Earle

Get tickets to Men on Boats!

Our next show, Men On Boats, capsizes the white male conquest narrative and features ten extraordinary women in the roles of John Wesley Powell and his intrepid crew. In honor of this gleeful gender-bend, we’re launching this #womancrushwednesday series, featuring adventurers from past and present. Check back every Wednesday to learn about these badass women!

This week’s #WomanCrush is marine biologist, author and explorer Sylvia Earle (b. 1935). Sometimes referred to as “Her Deepness” or “The Sturgeon General”, Earle’s storied career has combined significant research and discovery with political activism. Earle was the first woman to serve as Chief Scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a National Geographic Explorer-In-Residence, and the founder of Mission Blue, a nonprofit devoted to protecting the world’s oceans. In 2017, Earle received the Rachel Carson prize for environmentalism.


“Thanks to generations of curious, daring, intrepid explorers of the past, we may know enough, soon enough, to chart safe passage for ourselves far into the future.”
–Sylvia Earle


Read more about Men on Boats, Opening March 2nd

Woman Crush Wednesday: Bessie Coleman

Get tickets to Men on Boats!

Our next show, Men On Boats, capsizes the white male conquest narrative and features ten extraordinary women in the roles of John Wesley Powell and his intrepid crew. In honor of this gleeful gender-bend, we’re launching this #womancrushwednesday series, featuring adventurers from past and present. Check back every Wednesday to learn about these badass women!

This week’s #WomanCrush is aviator Bessie Coleman (1892-1926), the world’s first black female pilot. Coleman became interested in aviation after her brother, a WWI pilot, taunted her about “the superiority of French women”, some of whom could even fly planes. Coleman applied to numerous aviation programs in the United States but was rejected; none of them would take a woman or an African-American. Undaunted, Coleman traveled to France, where she graduated from the Caudron Borthers school of Aviation in 1921. She returned to the United States and began touring the country, offering exhibitions and flight lessons. Although her career was tragically shortened by a flight accident in 1926, Coleman’s legacy challenged racial and gender stereotypes and inspired the next generation of female aviators.



“The air is the only place free from prejudices.”
–Bessie Coleman


Read more about Men on Boats, Opening March 2nd

Supporting Third Rail


What happens when you donate to Third Rail? Quite a lot! By donating to Third Rail, your generosity helps create shared space, supports the exploration of complex ideas, and makes room for dialogue, impact, and empathy. Thank you.

Here are some of Third Rail’s primary goals that you make attainable:

  • Create artistically demanding programming with consistent excellence, including Main Stage plays and opportunities for dialogue and shared community experience.
  • Present salon-style readings and discussions between Third Rail Members and artists.
  • Support our season where 50% of main stage plays are written by women, over 50% directed by women; over 50% of acting contracts are held by women and 50% of contracts are held by actors of color.
  • Bring highly skilled and compelling performances to bear on innovative works with something relevant and provocative to say.
  • Explore creative risk-taking approaches to acting, directing, and design to illuminate relevant themes and audience impact.
  • Increase access and reach of younger audiences to Third Rail programming.
  • Create an authentic foundation for building diversity within the company at all levels, including staff and board.
  • Improve data collection of audience demographics, and create a benchmark for improving outreach to a more diverse audience.
  • Support 81 artists who will be engaged in main stage productions and invited into assessment and evaluation of the creative, artistic, and personal experiences they have at Third Rail.
  • Engage at least 10,000 community members across all Third Rail programming.
  • Facilitate 64 post-show dialogues initiating and inspiring critical thinking and community-building opportunities.

Woman Crush Wednesday: Annie Smith Peck

Get tickets to Men on Boats!

Our next show, Men On Boats, capsizes the white male conquest narrative and features ten extraordinary women in the roles of John Wesley Powell and his intrepid crew. In honor of this gleeful gender-bend, we’re launching this #womancrushwednesday series, featuring adventurers from past and present. Check back every Wednesday to learn about these badass women!

This week’s badass woman is Annie Smith Peck (1850-1935). Peck was an American mountaineer and suffragist, who broke records as the first woman to scale Huascarán in Peru, a peak over 6700m tall. Like many women before and since, Peck’s accomplishments were overshadowed by controversy over her attire; her climbing tunics and trousers sparked heated public debate in 1895. Peck was the author of several books about South America and was a founding member of the American Alpine Club.

“My home is where my trunk is.”
–Annie Smith Peck

Read more about Men on Boats, Opening March 2nd

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 scott@thirdrailrep.org 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
Get tickets

August 16, 2017

Guess Who’s A Guest?

We love our guest artists, and what we do would not be possible without them! Recently, we asked Guest Artists Diane Kondrat (“Clara” in The New Electric Ballroom), Larry Larsen (Scenic Designer for Mr. Kolpert), and Kelly Cullom (Stage Manager for Mr. Kolpert) to shed light on life, their work and more!

TR: To begin with, let’s talk about what truly matters in life: super powers. What’s a super power you wish you had?

DIANE: I’d like to instantly cleanse water.

TR: Nice! How about a real super-talent that might surprise folks?

KELLY: Knitting. I taught myself through videos online – which doesn’t sound as cool out loud as I hoped. It sounds more like what you’d expect from a knitter stereotype. If someone said that to me I’d imagine they live in a home rampant with cats.

LARRY:I secretly want to be a rock star vocalist. I am a pretty good singer. I am also an amazing dessert chef and I make an incredible Tiramisu.

TR: Fantastic, we may draw on that skill at our next cast party! Speaking of, can you talk a little about the Third Rail shows you’ve been involved with, and why?

LARRY: Mr. Kolpert was a play that I gave to my Scene Design 1 students at University of Portland. They loved the script. I wasn’t sure, but it was the strong connection to the characters Raff and Sarah that convinced me that there was a really strong message for their generation. A generation that has so much stimulation from every front that they understand what it means to want to feel real emotion. It was an eye opening realization for my perception of this script.

KELLY: I am drawn to join the team because of the work Third Rail brings to the stage and the people who put it on. It’s engaging theatre – which is satisfying professionally and creatively – and the people are so swell that it’s a pleasure to be here every day and sometimes at odd hours. Theatre is a labor of love and so you’d better love what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with.

TR: Is there a favorite quote or event that has happened in rehearsal?

DIANE: Jennifer Lin told us about reading that children who had survived a communal traumatic incident were witnessed telling and retelling the story of the trauma from different perspectives, trying to process the event.

KELLY: I keep a “quote of the day” section in my rehearsal reports for the daily occasion when someone says something deeply connected to the play, or something goofy. What I love is that the other artists who are on the distribution list of the reports (and are often not in the rehearsal room) will respond to the quote. I like to think it helps them feel even more connected to the group.

TR: Lovely, thank you so much for your time!

You can see images of Mr. Kolpert (and Larry Larsen’s beautiful set!) here: Mr. Kolpert

You can see Diane Kondrat as Clara in The New Electric Ballroom April 8-30th.

Get your tickets

RENEW FOR YOU! (and for your friend, too!)

After we announced Annapurna and The Nether as our next Main Stage productions, you thought, “Ah, yes! I must renew my subscription! (or “my Membership!”).” But who to go with? Kathleen from work loved The Realistic Joneses and Or, but said subscribing just wasn’t possible right now. If only there was a way to renew your own subscription (or membership!) while getting a free one for her…

Never Fear! Rail It Forward is here!

Renew your Subscription or Membership with us by April 1st and we’ll gift you a FREE Main Stage Flexible Subscription to give to any friend who has not subscribed or been a member in a previous year.

The Main Stage Flexible Subscription includes four discounted tickets for you or your guest(s) to see any of our Main Stage productions. You choose how and when you use your tickets.

Now you’ve got a buddy to see Annapurna, The Nether, and the rest of our 2016-2017 Main Stage shows! Hooray! It’s Christmas come early!