For ye Blogtownies who ne're heard of it, be thus advised : JAW (Just Add Water) 2010 is on like Donkey Kong this weekend.


"What in the effin eff is JAW?" you might ask. Well sir/madame, JAW is an annual playwrights festival of brand spanking new theater put on by Portland Center Stage (128 NW 11th). To quote PCS themselves:
JAW: A Playwrights Festival is Portland Center Stage’s developmental festival of new work for the stage. For two crazy weeks in July, JAW: A Playwrights Festival takes over the Armory, inside and out. And as always, we’ll present spanking new works in progress that will explode your expectations of what live performance can do. Events & Activities include...
There really isn't anything else like this, theater-wise, that happens in Portland, and the festival is worth checking out—not only to gain some knowledge about what it's like to be a working playwright, but also to be exposed to some of the groundbreaking theater companies that are actively making work in our fair city. Oh, and did I mention that the whole festival is FREE? That's right, you have no excuses at this point. You're going to have to leave your basement, pull yourself away from your Wii, and see some fucking theater.

For a more detailed preview of the festival and for our suggestions on what to go check out, follow me after the jump.

The full schedule and outline of the festival can be found here, and as one can see, there is a lot going on. JAW is a theater festival, a play-reading/workshopping forum, a theater bazaar of sorts, and platform for new theater companies to devise brand new work.

I know it sounds a bit overwhelming and confusing, but don't worry, we'll get you through this. Here's what is definitely worth checking out:

Theater Fair: Just about every theater company in the greater PDX area will be setting up tables/booths from 3-8 pm on Saturday July 24. Here's your chance to learn about all the theater going on in Portland, and rub elbows with various directors, actors, playwrights, and other people of note.

Necessity by William S. Gregory: Saturday, July 24 at 4 pm. Local playwright William S. Gregory's new work focuses on one of the first African American soldiers to serve the US during World War I, and his return to his hometown where he is met with discordance and racial tension.

Gnit by Will Eno: Saturday, July 24 at 8 pm. Eno's work is typically very good, and he returns to JAW with an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt, a "wry fugue on the topic of narcissistic masculinity." This is easily the festival's biggest deal.

The North Plan by Jason Wells: Sunday, July 25 at 8 pm. Wells is a new American playwright that is picking up some national attention. His new play follows the bumblings of Tonya as she turns herself in for drunk driving, finds herself in jail, and befriends a stranger who claims he has information about an impending fascist takeover.

Devise & Conquer series: PCS has asked four up-and-coming Portland theater companies to devise new work that will be performed for the first time throughout the weekend. The work will be site-specific and take place all over the Armory. Pieces to look for: My Mind Is Like an Open Meadow, created by Hand2Mouth Theatre, being performed at 3:15 & 7:15 pm on July 24. PING!, created by Polaris Dance Theatre, being performed at 7:40 pm on July 24 and 25.

So there you have it. Go check out new theater this weekend. And just to hammer this home once again, the festival is FREE, and there is A LOT to see. The best thing for you to do is to just show up, find something interesting to watch, and then see what else these crazy theater folk are up to.