Portland is awash in talent this week, as Fertile Ground 2014, a festival showcasing new work in the arts, continues through Feb. 2.

by: PHOTO BY KEITH BUCKLEY - Dancer Sumi Wu is surrounded by castmates, from left, Caren Graham, Oregon City resident Ken Iverson, Rick Huddle and Anne Rutherford. Opening Thursday, Jan. 30, “Scenes from the Future” will take audiences “down the rabbit hole, where they will spend time in the principal’s office, have an exotic cruise, learn how an engineer found life in a heating duct, and have original dance highlighted and woven throughout the show,” said Oregon City resident Ken Iverson, one of the performers in the show.

Attendees won’t have to follow Alice to Wonderland to see the show, but they will need to journey to Portland’s Grace Memorial Episcopal Church, 1535 N.E. 17th Ave., where “Scenes from the Future” will be performed at 8 p.m. on Jan. 30, and at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Feb. 1 and 2.

Iverson is one of five artists in the show, each one showcasing a part of a larger show.

“This wonderful idea came from Anne Rutherford, who will premiere her one-woman ‘Alice In Wonderland.’ My part of the show will be storytelling, with some of the stories partially acted out. My stories begin in grade school where Sumi Wu, a wonderful dancer, will play the role of my sixth-grade sweetheart and Rick Huddle will be the voice of the school principal,” he said.

In addition to Rutherford and Iverson’s pieces, Huddle, a storyteller and dancer, will debut a new solo presentation; Caren Graham will perform a comedy monologue; and Wu will interweave throughout the show, dancing to the live music of Portland-based Al Andalus, said Rutherford, who also is the director of “Scenes from the Future.”

“I think the audiences will really enjoy the variety that is in this show.  We have stories, both told and dramatized, and we have incredible dances. One of the dances that Sumi will be doing simply takes my breath away every time I see it,” Iverson said.One story that Iverson tells takes place during a sixth-grade math test, when Bonnie, the prettiest girl in the class, smiles at him.

“Suddenly, I had my first experience with hormones running amok. With our teacher grading papers and not watching us, I rose from my desk and quietly made my way over to Bonnie’s desk. She looked up, surprised to see me, and when our eyes met, I couldn’t resist and found myself leaning over, closer and closer, intending to kiss her,” he said.

Come to the show to find out what happened next, he said.

“Plus,” he added, “The stories will give you something both to be thankful for and to smile about. Our show is about life, and what a show it is.”

Fertile Ground

This is Rutherford’s first Fertile Ground experience as a producer and a performer, and she has relished the chance to collaborate rather than compete with fellow dramatic artists, she said. She chose to shine a spotlight on these five new pieces, because, she said, “The power of a solo performer moves me, and audiences, like nothing else.”

She has worked with all four of the others in one form or another over the years and said she chose to collaborate with them “not only for their excellence as artists but also for their substance as human beings.”

She also wanted to encourage each of them to do a solo show, keeping company with her one-woman “Alice in Wonderland” project.

“Though our pieces are stand-alone, the combination of our energy and expertise in rehearsal has been truly astonishing,” Rutherford said.

“When we got together for our first meeting and discussed our photo shoot, dressed as aliens for an audience attending ‘Scenes from the Future,’ Rick said, ‘I have a space helmet,’ Caren and Ken said, ‘I have alien antennae,’ and Sumi said, ‘I’m bringing Princess Leia hair!’ I knew I was working with the right group,” she added.

Iverson also enjoyed the collaboration process, noting that “every rehearsal brings new elements out of each of our performances, which is very exciting. My actual show will span the arc from grade school until the time I found myself sitting on an island, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, watching the points of light as an unarmed Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile was re-entering the atmosphere and heading in my direction.

He swears that the ICBM story is true.

Rutherford says audiences who attend “Scenes from the Future” will be inspired to take a look at their own lives, and they will admire “our guts and our humor; plus we are pretty cute, in a Portland-esque kind of way.”

For tickets and more information about “Scenes from the Future,” visit scenesfromthefuture .com.

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