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Bag&Baggage's The Vault hosts staged reading of 'Interlocus,' by Tiffany Rousseau.

Every January, Portland holds the Fertile Ground Festival of New Work — an 11-day affair focused on new work in the arts.

The festival features world-premiere projects, staged readings, developing works, dance, comedy, film and myriad other arts events from the Portland-area creative community.

There are various performance venues across the metro area, and this year Bag&Baggage Productions of Hillsboro will be one of them.

A staged reading of "Interlocus: Between Space and Time," will take place at The Vault, 350 E. Main St., on Jan. 19 and 20 at 7 p.m. and Jan. 21 at 2 p.m.

The play was written by Tiffany Rousseau, who is part of the B&B's inaugural Emerging Artists program, which features four candidates taking on roles to immerse themselves in the wide variety of responsibilities of running a theater company.Tiffaney Rousseau

Bag&Baggage isn't far from where Rousseau lives, which made joining the program ideal.

"I was drawn to the program in particular because it looked like the perfect segue into being a professional in the Pacific Northwest," she said. "The program promises development in all the areas I am hoping to develop in order to be the best theater professional I can."

Earlier last year, Rousseau encountered some challenging obstacles in her life. A thunderstorm going on while she was sat in a coffeeshop in May inspired her to start writing the play.

"The space and time between thunder and lightning doesn't have a name," she said. "I wrote the scenes, they began to develop more, and over the course of nearly six months, I finished writing everything."

Rousseau began to post about her script on Facebook, hoping to find more information about how she could get the play into the Fertile Ground Festival.

It wasn't long before B&B Associate Artistic Director Cassie Greer noticed the post and worked to organize the staged reading at The Vault.

Fertile Ground was launched by the Portland Area Theatre Alliance in 2009 to provide a platform for Portland theater companies to showcase their commitment to new work, as well as invite regional and national artists, artistic leaders and arts aficionados to showcase Portland as a fertile ground for creativity and innovation.

"I've been to other Fertile Ground festivals in previous years," said Rousseau. "Last year, I bought a festival pass and saw as many things as I could. Some performances were good; others weren't my cup of tea."

Rousseau's play follows Samantha (Madeline Clement), a young barista living in Portland who has the little-known ability to step out of time.

Though the time limit on her ability is only five minutes, it's enough for her to use it as a way to forget the past. When she meets Ethan (Grant Thackery, another B&B Emerging Artist), a young writer who can also step out of time, they try to navigate their newfound friendship as Samantha wrestles with her anxiety and the recent loss of her mother.

Meanwhile, Samantha's father, Craig (Eric Boles), looks for a way back into his daughter's life after ending up on the streets due to depression and joblessness.

The story is inspired by the poetry of Pablo Neruda, and explores moments in which everything seems to halt after the sight, waiting for the sound — a moment when time stops and everything can change.

There will also be a talkback that will last around 30 minutes after each reading.

The staged reading is just the beginning for "Interlocus." Rousseau plans to try to get the play published, which will keep her busy for the next few years.

"I'm hoping to inspire people to be vulnerable," said Rousseau. "I don't write casually. I'm very real, honest and deep, and I hope people who come to see this will leave reflecting and asking questions about themselves."

For more information about the Fertile Ground festival, and to purchase tickets, which are $5 each, visit

>fertilegroundpdx.com.

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