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The Fertile Ground Festival of New Works is alive, well, and just a little different this year!

This 12th annual event, a program of the Portland Area Theatre Alliance (PATA), is thrilled to offer 40 projects, all virtual and free. For the first time in the festival’s history the participating “acts of creation” are curated. The GROW PANEL, a diverse community panel of artists and arts administrators, selected 31 projects for this year’s festival, nine of which received a GROW AWARD. Festival productions will stream on Facebook and YouTube channels from Thursday, January 28 through Sunday, February 7.

Adrienne Flagg in Martha Bakes. Nora Cole photo.

“At this time, in our local and national landscape, our community needs artists’ voices more than ever,” said Dre Slaman, Fertile Ground Managing Director. “This re-imagined virtual Fertile Ground is about innovation, inclusion, and, most of all, the resilience of our local artistic community.”

“This year’s festival will host an astounding array of artists whose voices, story subjects, and project designs run the gamut,” said Nicole Lane, Fertile Ground Festival Director. “At-home audiences certainly see a festival overflowing with diverse ‘acts of creation’ from a host of local artists who are emphatically representational of our community.”

Student playwrights Emily Imanishi, Aishwarya Marathe, Lana Sage, and Casey Tilgner offer a selection of three new one-acts.

Fertile Ground’s virtual festival will present pre-recorded “acts of creation,” submitted by producing organizations and artist-producers. Recorded premieres will be live-dropped at scheduled intervals over the course of the 11-day festival, and streamed on Fertile Ground’s Facebook and YouTube channels. After a project premieres, most will be accessible for on-demand viewing until February 15.

As all festival events are free, audiences are encouraged to make donations to Fertile Ground between now and the start of the festival in lieu of the typical $50 Festival Pass. Audiences will also be asked to make donations to the artists and producers upon viewing the projects to support their work directly.

Missing from this year’s Fertile Ground Festival was the in-person press event. Instead, media representatives met with artists who pitched their projects via ZOOM. While it is impossible to describe every project, below are some highlights of the wonderful creations awaiting you during this year’s festival.

In Don Wilson Glenn’s Martha Bakes: A Biography of a Revolution and Insurrection that never happened, Vanport Mosaic presents a one-woman show that casts a satirical eye on Revolutionary history, imagining the newly widowed Martha Washington as she bakes her way through an imagined slave uprising at Mount Vernon. Directed by Damaris Webb, this is a staged reading of the first act of a three-act play.

Cat Napper by Kwik Jones is a mystery-thriller filled with comedy that pits Special Detective Crystal Beck against the most powerful and dangerous people in the city as she tries to solve a rash of catnappings. Winner of this year’s Portland Theatre Guild Award, Cat Napper is the third of a trilogy about crimes against women and children. Money, power, politics and cats! Directed by Victor Mack.

Oh Myh Dating Hell.

Myhraliza Aala’s Oh Myh Dating Hell focuses on a young Filipino-American who is past her pull date for marriage–at least as far as her parents and her culture are concerned. Myh struggles to find herself artistically as her dating adventures offer up a plethora of special challenges. Directed by Nikki Flinn, produced by Aala Is Possible.

Produced by Lakewood Theatre Company, the Young Playwrights Festival features new one-acts from student playwrights who have been selected to work with professional directors, actors, and playwrights to gain insight, experience, and feedback to develop their plays.

Part radio play, part photo essay, and part surrealistic film, Shooflies and Psylocybin by Heath Hyun Houghton is a story about processing grief through a psychedelic evening. Directed by Asae Dean and  produced by Theatre Vertigo, this short work features Samson Syharath.

This is a mere sampling of the new works available during the festival. It will be easier this year to see more of the many Fertile Ground offerings without traveling to many far-flung theatres. The festival opens January 28, and a complete schedule of events is available here.

Martha Bakes.

(Banner insert: Madonna of the Cat by Sue Mach, Sue Mach Productions.)




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