March 21 show spends a day in the life of the growing performance hub and talks vision and community with its artistic director

OPB’s weekly arts and culture program State of Wonder is taking its March 21 show to Portland’s Artists Repertory Theatre—where it will take a deep dive into the thriving performance space led by Artistic Director Dámaso Rodriguez.

Rodriguez will join host April Baer as guest curator for the week’s program. Recorded before a live audience, the show will open with a radio documentary leading listeners through a day in the life at Artists Rep’s big red building and the many groups working under its roof.

Then, Baer will sit down with Rodriguez to talk about the direction he’s taking the company and how he’s creating systems of support for working artists. He’ll also share what he’s doing to ensure new and diverse voices are heard onstage, such as establishing the company’s New Play Development program, which resulted from a “Creative Heights” grant from the Oregon Community Foundation. He’ll also discuss further the relationship between art and community.

“It’s impossible not to notice what’s going on under Dámaso’s leadership at Artists Rep,” said April Baer, host of OPB’s State of Wonder. “At a time of scarce resources, when arts and culture groups are constantly asked to work together, he’s opening lots of pathways that have real artistic merit. Plus, he just has a nose for tremendously interesting projects—from the very affecting [the recent show Tribes] to the bombastic [The Motherf*cker With the Hat]. He’s both an instigator and incredibly collegial.”

Rodriguez came to Oregon from Los Angeles, where he co-founded Furious Theatre Company and worked as associate artistic director of the Pasadena Playhouse. He moved to town committed to bolster Artists Rep’s creative ecosystem. He started by strengthening the company’s working relationship with theatre professionals, which became the 21-member group of Resident Artists.

Then, due to a mix of opportune timing and his past experience with organizational collaboration—and acting on a strategy—he made the surprising move to open the building’s doors to other theater companies. Creating new opportunities to collaborate, Artists Rep now anchors a building that houses nine other arts nonprofits, including Profile Theatre, Portland Shakespeare Project, Hand2Mouth and more.

The show featuring Rodriguez airs Saturday, March 21 at noon on OPB Radio and can be streamed online and through the OPB News app for mobile devices. It will be available afterward on the State of Wonder website.

Follow State of Wonder on Facebook and Twitter to learn about upcoming shows, hear about local artists and creators, see upcoming events and find out more about what’s happening in the arts community.

State of Wonder is made possible by a grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, along with support from the U.S. Bank Foundation. Other supporters of arts and culture programming at OPB include the Robert D. and Marcia H. Randall Charitable Trust along with a grant from the Oregon Arts Commission.