Each year, when we post the lists of shows we saw, and the companies we covered, we understandably get quite a few questions about why we have not included some truly terrific theatres that lie outside our geographical purview. We have addressed this topic often here, and will doubtless do so again. The answer really lies in the question as I (slyly) posed it. Apart from the two old established companies that were grandfathered in when the Drammys were still the Willies (Lakewood, and Broadway Rose), and to which we owe much of our ability to beef up our musical contents (though more and more Portland theatres are offering musicals now too, hurrah!), our mission is, and always has been, to cover and celebrate theatre in Portland. I’ll talk about why again, in a minute.
But first, this year, I wanted to give a big pre-Drammy shout out to our fantastic “neighbor” theatre companies. I have posted a few of their logos here…Bag&Baggage (in their home in the Venetian Theatre) and Hart Theatre in Hillsboro, Clackamas Rep, Sandy Actors, and over the river but still very close, Magenta Theatre and Serendipity Players in Vancouver, to name BUT A FEW!!! There are more! So please don’t blame me for omissions. We know that other great companies are out there.
And we know what fabulous work you do. As regular-old, ticket-buying audience members, most of us have traveled out when we can, and marveled. You are terrific, and the populations you serve are fortunate. Kudos to you all.
People say, “But they are doing such high quality work!” And we reply, “Yes, we know.” The thing is, “quality” is not one of the current Drammy-eligibility requirements. And how could it be? We, as audience members, never know how good or bad a show will be before we see it, be we in London’s West End, on Broadway in New York, in Seattle, or even in Portland. We can be gobsmacked when we go in with low expectations and are hit over the head with star quality. And likewise, when our hopes are high, we can be disappointed.
Our requirements, as you know, are locally produced, nine performance productions, here in Portland.
“But couldn’t you go just a little further?” you ask. Well, how far, and how often?we answer. We covered 116 productions this past Drammy season, from about 50 companies. We are a group of theatre-passionate volunteers, many of whom work, most in the evenings because we are involved in theatre ourselves. Some of us rely on public transport. Although we get comped tickets, we already spend a lot on gas, and many of us have artists’ incomes. And where would it end? If we add ONE company within a twenty mile radius, we would have to add, by our current criteria, at least ten, quite far apart. So until some Scotty can beam us up (and I don’t mean Scott Palmer…though I know he is capable of all kinds of miracles, because I have witnessed some!), we have our work cut out ensuring a critical mass of us sees every eligible production in the area that we call ours.
So! Until time, place, human resources…all the above… make that kind of miracle happen, we must remain as we are…The Drammys of Portland. We know that disappoints some people. And we are sorry for that. But honestly, we really can’t span an additional radius, the way things are.
But believe me! We love your work, dear theatre neighbors! We follow your programs with interest, see your shows (as individual ticket-buyers) when we can, and applaud you heartily for what you do!
Here’s to you! Make you go on breaking legs, cracking smiles, inspiring tears, cheers, and standing ovations!
Your very good health! And we hope you will stand with us, your neighbors, here in Portland, on Monday, June 9, at the Crystal, when we celebrate the theatre arts together!