We could not be more excited about the extraordinary cast of THE MUSIC MAN! We are especially thrilled to welcome Merideth Kay Clark to the Third Rail stage as Quartet 2 (and Others).
Merideth has played definitive leading theatrical roles nationwide, such as Elphaba in the First National Tour of Wicked, Eva Perón in Evita (Northern Stage), Nancy in Oliver! (5th Ave), and has originated roles in two off-Broadway musicals. Clark is a sought-after concert artist described as “plain astonishing” and “a masterful performer” with “powerhouse pipes.” She is a multi-instrumentalist and plays anything with strings, most notably the guitar, dulcimer and viola. Portland credits include: Winter Song (Portland Center Stage); Cathy in The Last Five Years (Portland Center Stage); Tzeitl in Fiddler on the Roof (Portland Center Stage); Clara in The Light in the Piazza (Portland Playhouse); Lilli/Kathryn in Kiss Me Kate (Clackamas Rep) as well as her acclaimed concert with Mont Chris Hubbard, Joni Mitchell’s BLUE.
Alex is originally from Ventura, California but has settled in Portland as an area actor, deviser and theatre-maker. Favorite credits include: An Octoroon (Artists Repertory Theatre), 26 Miles (Profile Theatre), The Oregon Trail (Portland Center Stage), db (COHO Theatre), Passion Play (Shaking The Tree & Profile Theatre), Dance For a Dollar, (Miracle Theatre), and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (Portland Playhouse). She is dedicated to creating original devised theatre and is a proud member of String House, an independent producing title and new works laboratory, nominated for two Drammy Awards for “Best Devised Production.” When not onstage Alex is inspired by the impact theatre has on Portland’s youth and is proud to work as a performer with Portland Center Stage’s touring education program, All is Fair in Love and Shakespeare. She would like to thank her incredible wife for all her love and support! Now, LET’S REVOLT!
Q & A with Alex Ramirez de Cruz
TR:Do you have a story of a small (or large) act of revolt you’ve participated in?
AR: I think one of the integral acts of revolt in my life was shaving my head in college. It was a small gesture, but the first in a long series of reclaiming my body and learning how to advocate for myself as a woman, a lesbian, and a mixed person of color. Shaving my head allowed me to escape theatrical “types”, beauty standards, and cultural expectations that were placed on me and I was able to wipe the slate clean. There have been few moments in my life where I have felt so free. In learning how to fight for myself, I began to find my power, and that has made me better able to advocate for others.
TR:When have you felt part of a revolution?
AR: NOW! I have never been [more] politically engaged than these past few years. I am enraged, afraid, unapologetic, hopeful, fragile and I am using all that to fight for change. The time is ripe to Resist. Revolt. And Revolutionize. Minority voices that have long been silenced are rising up to demand change and I am among them and with them. I am continually working to acknowledge my privilege so I can clearly see the change that needs to happen within me and around me, raise others’ voices, and listen deeply to others’ experiences that are different from my own. I firmly believe that it matters where we put our time, resources, bodies and voices in this moment. The revolution is amongst us, so rise up and REVOLT!
TR:What are some titles, identities or names that you claim with pride?
Men On Boats, opening March 2nd, tells the story of the Powell expedition of 1869–an epic and harrowing journey of cartographic and scientific discovery along the Colorado River. Powell and his crew undertook the expedition in four modified Whitehall rowboats–the Maid of the Cañon, the Kitty Clyde’s Sister, the No Name and the Emma Dean. In order to gain a better understanding of these vessels and the wonderful world of wooden watercraft, Third Rail is thrilled to partner with Wind & Oar Boat School!
Wind & Oar Boat School is an Oregon nonprofit founded in 2011. Their mission is to engage young people and inspire learning through the art, science, and craft of building wooden boats. Wind & Oar Boat School partners with public schools to deliver STEAM programming to underserved youth ages 9-22 across the Portland metro area.
Building wooden boats is an innovative and unique platform for developing an array of academic, practical, and social skills. Boat-building projects promote critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity, essential skills for success in school and career. From simple rowboats to sophisticated sail boats, projects take place over 30-400 hours. Students gain practical woodworking skills and understand the application and relevance of academic skills.
Wind & Oar’s first project, the ROSIE, is of particular resonance with Men On Boats, as it was constructed by a group of women. Over the course of 3 months in summer 2011, nine women ages 23-61 built a traditional Scottish fishing skiff called a St Ayles skiff. In July 2013, five of the women traveled to Ullapool Scotland to participate in the first St Ayles World regatta, coming home with a 3rd place medal.
Currently, Wind & Oar instructors can be found leading the following projects around the Portland Metro Area:
Merlo Station High School’s Boat Geometry class: 2017-18 project is traditional build of a Whitehall 14, from scratch. Class meets daily for 2 periods December -June, students earn math and applied arts graduation credits. 10-15 students per 6 week section reaching a total 40-45 students over project length.
George Middle School in N Portland, 7th grade science class builds a Bevin’s Skiff, 10 weeks meeting 1x a week. Working with 105 students
Farmington View Elementary School, Hillsboro. Bevin’s skiff, entire 5th grade (45 students) meet 1x week over 12 weeks. This is 5th year, 5th boat.
Sato Elementary, Beaverton. 1st year project at new district STEAM school; a Bevin’s skiff with 5th grade students. Funding is pending/class is pending.
Over the next few months, Wind & Oar staff and members of the Men On Boats artistic team will be collaborating on a variety of projects and around the show. Stay tuned to hear more about this exciting organization!
We are thrilled to welcome Jessica Hillenbrand, alumna of the 2013/14 Third Rail Mentorship Program, in her mainstage debut as Hall in Men On Boats.
Born and raised in Portland, Jessica holds a BA in Drama from the University of Portland. You may have recently seen her underneath a great deal of eyeliner as Maya in Portland Playhouse’s fall reading of No Candy, or as Val in That Pretty Pretty with Defunkt Theatre. Other credits include Stupid Kids (part of Fuse Theatre Ensemble’s OUTwright Festival) and Comedy of Errors (Post5), Love Labour’s Lost (Portland Actors Ensemble), and bobrauschenbergamerica (Third Rail Mentorship Company).
Q & A with Jessica Hillenbrand
TR:What are some of your favorite places to go adventuring in Oregon?
JH: My favorite thing about living in Oregon is that it’s so easy to escape to just about any adventuring terrain you could want. When I have the time, I love to go center myself at the beach or spend a day hiking around waterfalls in the Gorge. Probably dearest to my heart are the trails around Forest Park, which my trusty Star Wars water bottle and I have been hiking almost weekly over the past year. Thanks to Wildwood Trail I can squeeze in an adventure whenever the mood strikes and keep the wanderlust at a manageable simmer without even having to leave the city.
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 botanist and explorer Jeanne Baret (1740-1807). Disguised as a man and under the assumed name “Jean Baret”, Jeanne Baret became the first woman to circumnavigate the globe. An accomplished botanist, Baret enlisted as a valet on the global expedition of Admiral Louis-Antoine de Bougainville from 1766-1769, and worked alongside the ship’s botanist (her friend and lover) to collect samples and identify new species. Baret’s true identity was discovered at some point during the expedition (accounts differ as to the exact details), and she was ultimately left behind on Mauritius, then known as the Isle de France.
We are thrilled to welcome Amy Driesler as Dunn in Men On Boats, opening March 2nd, 2018.
Amy recently moved to Portland from New York, where she is a regular member of the critically acclaimed The Queen’s Company. Recent credits include: Nut in Orange Julius (staged reading Profile Theatre), Lucentio in Taming of the Shrew (The Queen’s Company), Hal/Hotspur in Henry Four (Circo de Nada) and Cassius in Julius Caesar (Harlem Shakespeare Festival). She co-stars in several award-winning short films including Hens and Chicks and Elliot King is Third directed by Rose Troche (The L Word).
AD: I’m excited to be a part of this adventure with nine female actors, a mostly female design team, a female director and female assistant director. The future is female!
TR:What are some of your favorite places to go adventuring in Oregon?
AD: I’m new to Oregon so haven’t had tons of time to go adventuring here yet, but we’ve made it to the coast a couple of times, which is breathtaking, and hiking/sightseeing along the Columbia River gorge. The view is truly spectacular.
TR:What has been the greatest adventure of your life so far?
AD: My girlfriend and I spent a week in Iceland a few years ago. I am fascinated by cold remote places. It is such a beautiful country: rocky, rugged, ever evolving with active volcanoes, geysers, hot springs and the sea. We saw the Northern lights and even on a cloudy night they are other worldly. We got muddy and sea sprayed. We got almost as far north as the Arctic Circle. I learned some Icelandic. It was an amazing adventure!
We are thrilled to announce that Josie Seid will portray OG in Men On Boats, opening March 2nd, 2018 at Imago Theater.
Josie’s past roles include: Dido in Artist Rep’s An Octoroon as well as Viney in their production of The Miracle Worker. The Queen/Angela/Hermione in A Maze (Theatre Vertigo); Lina Darling in Nine the Musical (Lakewood Theater). She also brought Lola to life in Cottonwood in the Flood as part of the Vanport Mosiac Festival, as well as being a member of the Drammy Award Winning ensemble of the Brother Sister Plays (Portland Playhouse). Other readings for new works: Alan’s Confectionary, My Walk Has Never Been Average, Blind and Left Hook as part of Portland’s Fertile Ground Festival. Film credits include: ER Doctor in I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore.
JS: I love collaborating with badass (can I say that on paper?) women! The audition process for this production was one of the most fun, challenging and empowering processes I have experienced to date. It was remarkable to feel like you were working together on a piece and not trying to beat someone out for something. I was humbled and uplifted by the talent, strength and brilliance of these women. Now I get to lean in even farther and tell this story from this feminist lens and it thrills me to contribute to something that has the power to alter the perceptions of how we view adventure.
We are thrilled to announce that Gwendolyn Duffy will portray Bradley in Men On Boats, opening March 2nd, 2018.
Gwendolyn was raised here in Portland. She studied dance and theatre from a young age and began her professional performance career in 2005 as a member of The Suzanne Farrell Ballet in Washington, D.C. She is a graduate of Portland Actors Conservatory, where she performed as The Stepdaughter in Six Characters in Search of an Author and Benvolio in Romeo & Juliet. Other Portland theatre credits include portraying the title character in Imago Theatre’s The Lady Aoi, Ensemble in Imago’s Savage Love, Movement Artist in Portland Opera’s The Little Match Girl Passion, and Rachel in CoHo Production’s The How and The Why (opposite TR company member Karen Trumbo).
GD: What excites me the most is the opportunity that this production gives female theatre artists! To explore and dive into a world that would usually be off limits to us. To be a part of such a large ensemble cast of women, as we dig in and discover the humanity of these different characters. And then to share the story of these characters, who were real people, as we go on their wild adventure. It’s a hell of a ride, the odds are stacked against us and the stakes are very high. I think it’s going to be really empowering and hopeful to see a group of women coming together to survive.
TR:What has been the greatest adventure of your life so far?
GD: I’m a bit of a bird nerd and I’ve had some excellent birding adventures in Oregon, Washington, Northern California and Montana. But the first time I went exploring the wilds of the Nevada desert with my husband was the greatest by far! I was blown away by the vast expanse of sky and earth. It felt like a whole new world to me; different plants, animals and life everywhere. Compared to the lush growth of the forests that I am familiar with, there is a resilience to life in the desert. It clings on despite the harsh environment and I was instantly taken with that.
Kerry is a graduate of Brown University and the La MaMa Experimental Theatre Program, a former member of Imago Theatre and Theatre Vertigo, and a proud current member of Third Rail Repertory (A Bright New Boise, The Realistic Joneses, The Angry Brigade). Kerry is also a member/founder of the Anonymous Theatre Company, and happily spends her days at the Oregon Children’s Theatre and managing Dog Adventures Northwest. Regional credits include Futura and JAW at Portland Center Stage, The Servant of Two Masters and The Tempest at the Seattle Shakespeare Company, and Julius Caesar with the Tennessee Shakespeare Company.
We are excited to welcome Shalanda Sims to the Third Rail stage as Hawkins in Men On Boats!
Shalanda hails from the great Northwest and is a proud wife and mother of three. She is a performing artist, writer, teacher and advocate. Shalanda is the author of the newly-released children’s book Night Rhythm and has written several plays including Church Girls, Vanport, Too Good To Be True, Full-Time Woman and Who I Am Celebrating Me. Performance work includes Dreamgirls (Portland Center Stage), Pirates of Penzance (Portland Opera), Black Nativity (PassinArt) and Gospel Christmas (Oregon Symphony). When she’s not onstage or writing, she’s spending time with her family, teaching, heavily involved in her community or working tirelessly as the artistic director of World Stage Theatre.
Q & A with Shalanda Sims
TR: What has been the greatest adventure of your life so far?
SS: My greatest adventure has been being a wife and mother. Never a dull moment. Wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
The mission of Third Rail Repertory Theatre is to provide a dynamic artistic home for theatre audiences in Portland by fostering a professional local company, which, through collaboration and discipline, brings to life exceptional stories that provoke dialogue, encourage empathy, and inspire curiosity.