Bag&Baggage announces new space and shows for 2017-18 season
It's been an eventful year for Bag&Baggage, Hillsboro's professional theater company. After a grueling $1.5 million, 18-month capital campaign, the sale and subsequent closure of The Venetian Theatre (where the company stages its plays), moving one show to a library, canceling the largest show in the company's history, and seven months of construction, it has weathered the storm and proudly announced the inaugural season in a permanent new home.
At a May 5 event at the Hillsboro Civic Center, B&B's founding artistic director Scott Palmer announced the 2017-18 season's six-show lineup — in addition to an anonymous major donor who stepped forward to secure naming rights of the new building.
The Vault Theatre & Event Space will not only house B&B's productions, but will also be available for rent for corporate and community events, and will act as a base for a number of Portland-area performing arts groups.
B&B is also planning a series of Improv Comedy nights, called Cabaret Improv, featuring No Filter Improv Comedy troupe; the return of their "Drunk As The Dickens" holiday event; and relocating their annual Burns Night Supper to the space in January of 2018.
"We don't have to answer to anyone but our patrons, and now that we have our own space, we can do anything we want to, and continue to put on shows that promote social justice, equity and diversity," said Palmer. "We can continue to communicate a bolder vision, and we're very proud of the support that we've gotten from the community. It's been incredible and humbling."
B&B also announced it's new Emerging Artist Program, in which five individuals will work with Palmer and company for 10 months to get hands-on experience managing a professional theater gig. Over 60 applications have been received from people in Atlanta, New York, Colorado, and beyond, Palmer said.
As usual, B&B is beginning the season this July at the Tom Hughes Civic Center Plaza with a world-premiere, outdoor Shakespeare performance in the form of a reimagined "Romeo and Juliet," relocating the Bard's tragic lovers to ancient Iran during the time of Emperor Constantine.
Heading indoors for the first production in The Vault Theatre in September, Palmer will be directing a critically acclaimed work by one of America's foremost contemporary female playwrights, "Spinning Into Butter" by Rebecca Gilman. The work digs deep into political correctness and unexamined white racism through the lens of a fictional liberal arts college in Vermont experiencing ongoing racist attacks on a black student.
October sees a radical turn for the farcical with the return of the 'ladies' of Farndale Avenue in a show with the longest title in B&B history, "The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society's Production of 'Murder At Checkmate Manor'" by David McGillivrary and Walter Zerlin, Jr. In the series, a group of English community theater actors desperately attempt to put on a high quality production, but are ultimately defeated by their own complete lack of talent and ineptitude.
B&B's 2017 holiday show is a revival of the company's most popular production ever, "Charles Dickens Writes A Christmas Carol," which puts Dickens himself center-stage. Taking place on a fictional Christmas Eve, Scrooge, Cratchit, and Tiny Tim all argue and bicker with Dickens himself while attempting to rewrite the story to their own ends. B&B performed the show back in 2010 and 2011.
The company kicks off 2018 with the solo directorial debut of Cassie Greer, a longtime resident actor and recently appointed associate artistic director. She takes on one of the most compelling and chilling thrillers written in the past 30 years, Ariel Dorfman's "Death and the Maiden."
Set in a South American country with a violent, fascist history, "Death and the Maiden" is a haunting mystery that asks powerful questions about revenge, politics and the enduring nature of human evil.
"If I was hit by a bus or kidnapped by aliens, Cassie is next in line to run things for B&B," said Palmer.
The final production of the season is Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit." Filled with otherworldly charm and spectral hijinks, the show tells the story of novelist Charles Condomine, who, while gathering information for his new book, summons the spirit of his dead wife Elvira, setting up a series of madcap misadventures.
B&B is teaming up with Montinore Estate to provide Willamette Valley wines, beer and more at a small bar in the new space during shows.
The season features a range of ticket options available for audiences, including two different season subscriptions — a Platinum Pass which includes tickets to all six productions, and a Pick Four Pass, which provides one ticket to any four shows.
Season tickets are now available online at www.bagnbaggage.org or by calling the box office at 503-516-4840.
Palmer encourages the community to buy tickets ahead of time, especially now that B&B has the new space, which can hold around 130 people, versus the Venetian, which usually pulled in an audience of around 170 a show.
"Given that our new venue has fewer seats than our previous venue, we want to make sure everyone books their tickets as early as possible," said Palmer. "In fact, we expect most of these productions to be completely sold out so time is of the essence."