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Bits & Pieces: $125,000 for plays

Photo Credit: PMG - Artists Rep TheatreThe Oregon Community Foundation has awarded Artists Repertory Theatre a $125,000 Creative Heights grant to launch its two-year, eight-play New Play Development program.

It’ll create opportunities for local and national playwrights, emphasizing underrepresented voices and establishing Artists Rep as a national player in theater development. Four of the eight commissions will go to writers of color, four will be for women, and one play will be written for young adults. A writer from Oregon will be awarded a special commission — The Oregon Play Prize — and a commitment for a full production during Artists Rep’s season.

“We are thrilled to finally be able to devote substantial resources to new play development at Artists Rep,” says Sarah Horton, managing director.

For more info: artistsrep.org

Dive-In Movie

Portland Parks & Recreation’s annual flick and pool party has started with “The Lego Movie” chosen as this year’s film. The series continues with the following showings (all at 8 p.m.): Aug. 21, Creston Pool; Aug. 22, Wilson Pool; Aug. 23, Sellwood Pool; Aug. 24, Grant Pool. It’s $5 for adults, $3.50 for youth.

Zoo conservation

The Oregon Zoo has been in the news a lot lately, for good and bad things. Its newest announcement: A design has been made for the zoo’s new education center, a green building that will feature a conservation lab, auditorium and insect zoo. It’ll open in spring 2017, and is intended to connect the public with the natural world and inspire conservation action. For info: http://oregonzoo.org.

In other zoo news, workers have started to lay tracks for the new train route — a ride that will circle a 20-foot-high elevated trestle in the forest north of Elephant Lands, allowing for great views of animals and the annual winter ZooLights, which opens Nov. 28. The train had to be rerouted because of the new Condors of the Columbia and Elephant Lands habitats.

‘The Midnight Special’

Anybody 40 or older probably remembers Burt Sugarman’s “The Midnight Special,” a pre-MTV show that aired on weekend nights and featured variety and live music from stars like Aerosmith, Gordon Lightfoot, Linda Ronstadt, Marvin Gaye, The Doobie Brothers and Village People.

Now, the late night variety shows are available for purchase in three configurations: an 11-disc Collector’s Edition ($99.95) with 10 hours of music, five hours of bonus features and a 32-page collector’s book; a six-disc retail set ($59.95) with 96 complete performances; or a single DVD ($12.95).

Retail releases drop Sept. 9. Check midnightspecialdvds.com for information; the Collector’s Edition is available only online.