Rich Rubin's Cottonwood in the Flood was one of the high points of this year's Fertile Ground festival, and it wasn't even a fully produced show, but a staged reading in the tiny Performance Works NW space in Foster-Powell. From our review:
Cottonwood in the Flood is rooted in Oregon's not-too-distant past, but puts faces and names and stories to an appalling, almost Biblical moment of injustice in the state's history. One of the persistent problems that perpetuate damaging cultural dynamics Imarisha points to in the Gizmodo article is a simple lack of awareness of this difficult history, and one of the best ways to mitigate that ignorance is to see a play just like Cottonwood in the Flood—because it provides real insight into the historical events it depicts, by setting it up on two levels: the looming, macro view of history, refracted through the lens of its characters, and all of their particularities.
From an audience member perspective, staged readings can be a bit of gamble: It's basically sitting in on a play's rehearsal, before the cast is even off-book. But the staged reading of Cottonwood packed real power, and was smartly directed by Damaris Webb. It left me wanting to see it made into a whole-hog production, with the same actors and staging. Now it looks like there's been some progress on that front. Building on Cottonwood's run of sold-out shows at Fertile Ground, Cerimon House is producing new readings of the play; they're slated for February 19-23 (with no show on February 20) at the Alberta District's Little Church. It won't be a full-scale production, but if you missed Cottonwood at Fertile Ground (or couldn't get in), here's your chance!