Portland Center Stage Artistic Director Chris Coleman ain't fiddlin' around in his performance in Michael Hollinger's Opus, in which he plays the first violinist in a fractious string quartet.
I've known Chris for ten years. He directed the workshop of my play Birds of a Feather at PCS's JAW Playwrights Festival. We've hung out, gone to the beach. He even once heckled me while I was raising $20,000 for the theater, so he's damn lucky I didn't return the favor on his opening night.
Seeing him act for the first time was a revelation. First off, there was the immense relief that he didn't suck. Quite the opposite, he was fantastic--real, exposed, raw. It was a particularly brave performance for a public figure because the character can be such a jerk.
I'm immensely proud of him and look forward to seeing how it affects his directing of both plays and the theater itself. According to his blog, it's already given him new insights into both.
Working on more than one side of any equation really helps your understanding of your own discipline. Like Chris, I'm a product of the Carnegie-Mellon theater program, where studying acting and directing really informed my career as a writer. Being an opera singer gave me an education in 400 years of western history. And I know I'm a better writer because I teach.
That said, I seldom take center stage. I'd much rather write a musical than be in one. But I will tread the boards this Friday night for my last public appearance in Portland before moving to New York. I'm the emcee of Objectivity, a game show produced by my partner the Long-Suffering Floyd, to promote Object Stories, an innovative installation created PAM's education director Tina Olsen, in which regular people (and irregular, I suppose) bring their personal objects to the museum and record a commentary about them.
Here's the deeply moving one Floyd did, of which I could not be prouder, and not just because it makes me sound like a helluva guy.
Objectivity is one-night only this Friday. Admission to the museum is free, so seating will be limited. I'll be joined by a panel of Portland luminaries, including NY Times bestselling author Chelsea Cain, Mayor Sam Adams, Oregon Ballet Theatre's Christopher Stowell, Daria O'Neil Eliuk of The Buzz and Helen Raptis of AM Northwest.
Here's our groovy game show music, as performed by Gwen Verdon to the Bob Fosse choreography that inspired Beyonce's "Single Ladies."
Jeez, could I drop any more names?