Contributed By:

Emily Harris

Northwest Passages: Susan Mach

OPB | April 29, 2011 9:40 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 10:04 p.m.

Literary Arts

Playwright Susan Mach won an Oregon Book Award this week for The Lost Boy, her version of an 1874 kidnapping in Pennsylvania. When she won an Oregon Literary Fellowship in 2007 to help her finish the play, she said it is “not only about the vulnerability of being a parent, it’s about the exploitation of that vulnerability.”

Mach joins us to talk about The Lost Boy, being a playwright in Portland, her teaching work and other plays.

Her first full-length drama, Monograms, brings the story of noted Portland poet Hazel Hall to life. Her new play, The Shadow Testament, is based on a true story of a young woman caught up in the Holy Rollers cult movement that swept Oregon in the early 1900s.

In it, Jane, in a mental asylum, re-lives a crime she committed when she was embroiled in the cult and deeply in love. Mach picked this as a favorite line from the play:

Snow only stays beautiful for what seems like a minute…then everything gets dirty and that’s what life’s all about.

The Shadow Testament premiered at Portland’s Fertile Ground Festival earlier this year. Did you see it? Have you seen any of Mach’s plays? What would you like to know about making a life as a playwright in Portland?

Editor’s Note: Novelist Willy Vlautin was a double winner at this year’s Oregon Book Awards. You can hear our interview from last year with him right here.

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