02-19-2019  11:49 am      •     
(Image courtesy of The Armory)
The Armory
Published: 17 July 2017

The 19th annual JAW: A Playwrights Festival is Portland’s chance to preview spanking new scripts while they’re still in development, enjoy a host of Press Play performances and dig deeper with Community Artist Labs presented by JAW featured artists.

The JAW Big Weekend is July 28 - 30 in various locations at The Armory. JAW is always FREE and open to the public. More information about JAW is available at www.pcs.org/jaw.

This year’s JAW staged readings include Kate Attwell’s "Testmatch," examining women’s sports, mangos, and the ever-present legacy of colonialism; "Small Steps" by Briandaniel Oglesby, a comedy traversing 50 million miles and a million years; Mfoniso Udofia’s "In Old Age," part of a nine-play cycle about Nigerian American immigrants that explores the true nature of love and forgiveness; and "Tiny Houses," Stefanie Zadravec’s comic riff on Pandora’s Box that follows the ripple effect on several women who suddenly realize they can disrupt the status quo. 

Surrounding the staged readings, attendees can also enjoy Press Play events such as a site-specific dance performance and an indie gaming event. Community Artist Labs offer opportunities to build skills in adapting works of fiction, theatricalizing found text, and creating devised theater (attendance for labs is by lottery).




Friday, July 28, 2017

All Day        Press Play Event: ZoomUganda Display,  Studio Lobby

8:00 p.m.    JAW Kickoff: Readings of Short Plays by JAW Promising Playwrights,  Ellyn Bye Studio


Saturday, July 29, 2017

All Day        Press Play Event: ZoomUganda Display,  Studio Lobby

12:30 p.m.  Community Artist Lab: New Worlds for Old Stories,  Admission by Lottery

3:00 p.m.    Press Play Event: Street Dance Battle with Michael Galen,  Main Lobby

4:00 p.m.    Staged Reading: Tiny Houses by Stefanie Zadravec,  U.S. Bank Main Stage

6:00 p.m.    Press Play Event: PIGSquad Pop-up Gaming,  Main Lobby and Mezzanine

8:00 p.m.    Staged Reading: Testmatch by Kate Attwell,  U.S. Bank Main Stage


Sunday, July 30, 2017

All Day        Press Play Event: ZoomUganda Display,  Studio Lobby

12:00 p.m.  Community Artist Lab: Theatricalizing Found Text,  Admission by Lottery

12:00 p.m.  Community Artist Lab: Creating Devised Performance,  Admission by Lottery

3:20 p.m.    Press Play Event: Rachel Slater and Sara Parker’s Site-Specific Dance, Main Lobby

4:00 p.m.    Staged Reading: In Old Age by Mfoniso Udofia,  U.S. Bank Main Stage

7:00 p.m.    Press Play Event: A Little Bit Off’s Clown Performance,  Main Lobby and Mezzanine

8:00 p.m.    Staged Reading: Small Steps by Briandaniel Oglesb,  U.S. Bank Main Stage



Staged readings are free and open to the public. No reservations required. Seating is general admission. Post-show conversations with the playwrights are held after most readings.

Please Note: Staged readings are part of the play development process and do NOT represent completed scripts.


"Tiny Houses" by Stefanie Zadravec
SATURDAY, JULY 29, 4:00 P.M.
On July 17, 2014, Malaysian Flight MH-17 rained down upon a tiny, war-torn Eastern Ukraine village after being targeted by a surface-to-air missile launched by pro-Russian Separatists. Bodies and objects alike become fodder for those trying to escape the circumstances in which they were born. "Tiny Houses" is a comic riff on Pandora’s Box that explores the ripple effect on several women who suddenly realize they can disrupt the status quo. 


"Testmatch" by Kate Attwell
SATURDAY, JULY 29, 8:00 P.M.
Present day: A rained-out women's cricket match between India and England leaves tensions bare and, as the rainy day drones relentlessly on, no one can play nice anymore. Then: The British East India Company rules in 18th century West Bengal, as two members of the Royal Cricket Team, ardent players of the game, debate the rules of engagement, the problem of the women, the trouble with mosquitoes, all against the backdrop of a country that they are destroying through famine. And before that? ... "Testmatch" is a new play about women’s sports, mangos, cricket, and the ever-present legacy of colonialism, written for an all-female cast.


"In Old Age" by Mfoniso Udofia
SUNDAY, JULY 30, 4:00 p.M.
Isolated within the walls of her derelict New England home and suffering the residual pain of years of abuse, an ancient woman, Abasiama Ufot, makes an unlikely spiritual connection with an elder stranger, Azell Abernarthy. Just as life takes a new turn, Abasiama and Azell learn the true nature of love and forgiveness.


"Small Steps" by Briandaniel Oglesby
SUNDAY, JULY 30, 8:00 P.M.
Finally fed up with the bot-and-disappointment-filled world of online gay dating, Skip Powers volunteers to go to Mars. And NASA says ... “you'll do.” This is a comedy that traverses 50 million miles and a million years.



Press Play events engage JAW audiences before and after staged readings.

ZoomUganda display
JULY 28 - 30, ALL DAY Studio Lobby
ZoomUganda shares the journey of 12 girls given 12 cameras and 24 hours in which to tell their own stories through their own lenses. Directed by Portland-based Julie Resnick, ZoomUganda empowered its participants to stand in the centers of their world and share their perspectives. Sponsored by local nonprofit the Harambee Centre, which connects people in the US with the peoples and cultures of the African continent.


In the Groove: Street Dance Battle
with Michael Galen and AN All Star Crew
SATURDAY, JULY 29, 3:00 P.M., Main Lobby
A crowd-judged, 5v5, all-star street dance battle showcasing different styles of street and club dance. Michael ‘MANTIS’ Galen is a versatile freestyle dancer, teacher and choreographer who has trained, battled, performed and taught all over the West Coast and Brazil. Galen’s specialties include B-boyin’, House, Locking, Stepping, and Hip Hop party dancing.


PIGSquad Pop-up
SATURDAY, JULY 29, 6:00 P.M., Main Lobby and Mezzanine
Try out board games and computer games created by local designers. The Portland Indie Game Squad is dedicated to supporting the health and continued expansion of game developers and enthusiast communities in the Pacific Northwest and online.


Rachel Slater and Sara Parker
Site-Specific Dance Performance
SUNDAY, JULY 30, 3:20 P.M., Main lobby
Portland-based dancers Rachel Slater and Sara Parker have created a site-specific dance performance for The Armory’s Main Lobby. Rachel Slater’s credits include work with Tere Mathern, Franco Nieto, Tracey Durbin, Jim McGinn and Éowyn Emerald & Dancers. Sara Parker has recently performed with artists such as Tere Mathern, Netta Yerushalmy, Pamela Geber-Handman and Sharee Lane. 


A Little Bit Off’s Clown Performance
SUNDAY, JULY 30, 7:00 P.M., Main lobby and mezzanine
A Little Bit Off will bring their acrobatic clowning and physical comedy talents to JAW with a part-devised, part-improvised clown performance. Co-founded by Amica Hunter and David Cantor, A Little Bit Off began as a theatrical collaboration between two acrobatic clowns dedicated to bringing wonder and laughter to the audiences of the world.



Admission is free but attendance is limited and determined by random lottery. To enter the lottery email [email protected] by July 25 with a list of the lab(s) that are of interest.

New Worlds for Old Stories: An Introduction to Adaptation

With Literary Manager Benjamin Fainstein

SATURDAY, JULY 29, 12:30 P.M. to 3:00 P.M., Attendance by Lottery

This playful lab will steer participants through a crash course of adapting works of fiction for the stage. Through a series of creative activities, attendees will learn what questions to ask themselves when building fictional worlds and explore the delicate art of changing the shape of someone else’s work with both enthusiasm and ethics. This lab welcomes imaginative writers of all experience levels.


Theatricalizing Found Text: or, Adapting a Story through Movement

With JAW director Margot Bordelon

SUNDAY, JULY 30, 12:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M., Attendance by Lottery

In this lab, participants will read a short story and investigate how the piece might live theatrically. A series of small group physical exercises will explore — both literally and abstractly — the characters, relationships and environments in the story. Attendeeswill experiment with how much language is necessary to communicate the ideas of the piece and how much can be communicated through movement. Participants should come ready to move.


Creating Devised Performance

With JAW Playwright Katie Attwell

SUNDAY, JULY 30, 12:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M., Attendance by Lottery

This lab explores the collaborative theater making process: making work on your feet, together. Participants will look at ways to create theater that is built collaboratively, from practical work in the room and not necessarily from the page first. Participants will explore “sources” — Where can a piece of theater come from? Anywhere? Yes! — and how to turn those sources into something for the stage. Space, movement, objects, text, identity, speech, silence, and found materials will be considered as equal fodder for creating work. Come dressed comfortably and ready to move — at least a little.



All JAW events happen at The Armory, 128 NW Eleventh Ave., Portland, Ore., 97209



Portland Center Stage at The Armory is committed to making its performances and facilities accessible to all patrons. Learn more at http://www.pcs.org/access/.



Most JAW events are recommended for high school age and up. 


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