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Think Out Loud

JAW: A Playwrights Festival

Pete Springer/OPB

Every summer, theatre fans flock to Portland Center Stage’s Playwrights Festival to watch new plays from all over the country being workshopped into existence. To hear JAW festival director Rose Riordan tell it, new work is the heart and soul of theatre. There’s a place of course for the classics — for Shakespeare, for Ibsen, for Tennessee Williams. But new work is how today’s world is illuminated. And naturally, the classics themselves were once new works.

One of the newer additions to the festival line up is the first weekend focusing on “Made in Oregon” plays. Respected local theatre guru Mead Hunter calls it a “banner year” for the local plays. Matt Zrebski is eager to get an idea of what his new play, Forky, will look like. It’s a bit surreal by his own admission, dealing with a troubled marriage, alternate dimensions and a sperm coroner. (Yes, you read that right.) Some playwrights want to hear how their dialogue sounds, but Zrebski wants to see “how it moves.” He says it’s one of the best opportunities to see how work evolves, and because it’s theatre, the audience gets to be part of the process.

Are you involved in theatre? What excites you about seeing new work? Have you ever workshopped a play? What was hard or rewarding about it?


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