Rehearsals of ‘Buried Child’ begin at Profile Theatre

Last evening, cast and crew gathered in a back room for the first read-through of Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize winning play.

The very first production of Buried Child was directed by Robert Woodruff who, many years later, would have Profile’s Artistic Director, Adriana Baer, under his tutelage at Columbia University. Last night, Adriana addressed her actors, crew, and guild members, speaking of her excitement to step into her chapter in this particular lineage.

The Pulitzer was awarded to Shepard based solely on the merits of the written page (performance/production is usually taken into account by the Drama jury) and the actors were encouraged to read through the play naturally. Often Shepard’s plays are read and staged ‘heightened’ because of the surreal and crazy situations his characters find themselves in.

For now, it was okay to just have the words—“we’ll find the situation later,” said Baer who encouraged us to embrace the play’s contradictions without judgement. For the characters in Buried Child, everything is true in the moment, and the truth changes, while remaining true, from moment to moment. The play only seeks to ask questions and the audience is to find their own answers to whatever they feel, think, believe, those questions are.

Before the read-through, we also heard a little from those lovely folks behind the scenes who are busy with costumes, music, props, and lighting. I particularly liked this little model that holds true to Shepard’s sparse stage conception. It’s a visceral as opposed to a literal architecture. The designer imagined the home as a contorted place that is reacting to and rejecting the people who exist there, poisoning their own lives, perpetually stuck inside their story.

Bleak stuff.

And yet, not—or not always.

Typical of Shepard, humor cut through horror, levity grappling with loneliness and longing, and the reading elicited many laughs and wry smiles from those of us who were lucky enough to sit in on it last night.

The actors are already so good—particularly those playing Dodge and Shelly. It’s fascinating to attend these first readings and I’m excited to see where they go with it in the next six weeks.

If you’re living in the Portland area, Buried Child plays May 29th through June 15th and I think it will be one to watch.

Buried Child at Profile Theatre Portland

 

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Home and Away & Just Around the Corner.

I was born indolent and never grew out of it in the way my sister was eventually able to drink cow’s milk. Which is to say, I love living in Old Town because I would likely never make it to First Thursdays in The Pearl district if we didn’t live right on the bottom lip of it.

Some things I liked this Thursday were:

Art inspired by authors at Benjamin Benjamin, a teeny tiny  gallery space on 17th & Lovejoy. The ‘muses’ were Kurt Vonnegut, Haruki Murakami, Roald Dahl, Charles Bukowski, Raymond Chandler, Willa Cather, Edgar Allan Poe and Austin Osman Spare.

My knowledge and understanding of art is… meager. I’m not fluent in its vocabulary and am self-conscious and tongue-tied when someone asks me what I think or I ask someone what seems to be – from the look on their face – a stupid question. I did overhear the gallery owner tell someone that she had to frantically brush up on authors and literature before the show which made me feel less dumb. Slightly less dumb…

'Got to be Kind' by Tim Doyle.

'Philip Marlowe's Telephone' by Casey Burns.

'Dahl' by Bennet Slater.

Original pieces of art (frankly, a postcard at a museum) is way out of my budget these days but I did pick up a copy of Faesthetic – a curious and thoughtful art zine curated by Dustin Amery Hostetler – while I was there. I actually chose a back-issue though the current issue looks swell. Faesthetic #12 takes the concept of Home as its theme which has been a preoccupation of mine long before I ever left Ireland. Like most art, it doesn’t provide any answers but provokes yet more questions. I like it.

I also liked – loved! – some wooden furniture, vases and bowls at the street-fair up on 13th. And I rather enjoyed a wine-tasting with my man at Corkscru (where we scoffed pretzels and paté and mispronounced the names of German rieslings and rosés). The things I love most in this world are made from plants and trees, it seems…

'The Search Undertaken' by Graham Kahler.

Finally, this drawing by Graham Kahler at the Pony Club Gallery on Everett was so adorable. We stopped by on our way home from the wine-tasting. Pony Club showcases young illustrators and printmakers and have some of the most beautiful zines. It makes me think of September and India and the sweetness of the word Away. And suitcase-packing and warm, lazy, plodding days. Which is to say, loafing and indolence: home or away.