During the pandemic, Patrick Walsh, board member of Northwest Classical Theater Collaborative, went through a lot of soul-searching and came to realization that theater is something he can't do without.
"It is like water to me. To say I am happy to be back in rehearsal would be a vast understatement," the Clackamas County resident added.
Walsh is directing the one-man show "The Fever," with performances at 6:45 p.m. on Aug. 18, 19, 20, 21, 25 and 27 and Sept. 4 and 8, at Lloyd Center and at 7 p.m. on Sept. 7, at 149 A Ave., in Lake Oswego.
The production, starring Paul Susi, will also stage performances at Mother Foucault's Bookshop, 523 S.E. Morrison in Portland, on Sept. 2 and 3, and will then travel to the Columbia River Correctional Institute and the Oregon State Penitentiary.
"The Fever" is a one-man play written by Wallace Shawn in 1991.
"It deals with the journey that our narrator goes on as he comes to terms with his own privilege, and what he can do to combat the poverty and suffering he sees around him every day," Walsh said.
Message speaks to all
NCTC has a long history of bringing live theater to incarcerated community members, Walsh said, noting that in 2018, he and Susi toured 11 Oregon prisons with "An Iliad," but the pandemic prevented any kind of live theater from 2020-21.
Now, as he prepares to bring "The Fever" back to two correctional institutions, Walsh said that the message of this play will have a special impact on those who are incarcerated.
That message, he noted, is that we cannot observe poverty every day, just "wring our hands and do nothing. We all must take action."
He added, "Our audiences who are incarcerated know all too well how the deck is stacked against people who do not come from homes of means and privilege."
People in the greater Portland-metro area seem to feel helpless as they see the extreme destitution around them, Walsh said, adding that it is too easy to blame politicians for this crisis.
"What would make a massive difference is if every individual accepted culpability for contributing to the great inequity around us, took direct action, and gave some of what they've earned back to create a more just world," he said.
"This is a play for right now and for the powerlessness we all feel in the face of so much pain," Walsh said.
Walsh noted that once he and Susi decided to produce "The Fever," they began looking for a home base.
Walsh said he spoke to developers about using an abandoned storefront in downtown Portland, but that did not work out.
Then, Ann Grimmer and everyone at the Lloyd Center agreed "to partner in this venture, host our organization and use their resources to help make this show a reality," he said.
Although it may seem odd to be producing "The Fever" in a former Victoria's Secret in a shopping mall, Walsh said that the folks at Lloyd Center "have been amazing collaborators."
On the other hand, Mother Foucault's Bookshop is a perfect match for performances of the play, Walsh said, as "that shop has a long history in Portland and serves as the nexus point for many ideas that can be found in the play."
In addition to these two venues, "we will also be touring to the private residences of sustaining friends of the organization, faith leaders we've made connections with and the home of the current Creative Laureate of Portland, Joaquin Lopez," Walsh said.
Audiences will relate to the themes in "The Fever," Walsh said, because "the ideas and difficult questions that so many of us wrestle with daily Wallace Shawn puts into startling clarity."
They will also enjoy Susi's "powerhouse performance" in the one-man show, Walsh noted.
"It has been a long journey for NCTC to get back to this point," he said.
Walsh added, "I'm ecstatic to be producing and directing again and to be visiting all of our different community members. I think it is what I am put on this earth to do."
Walsh noted that admission to the show is free, with donations accepted. Because only 10 audience members are permitted per performance, tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis to the shows based at Lloyd Center.
The former Victoria's Secret space is on the first floor; all performances begin promptly at 6:45 p.m. Make sure to get there by 6:30 p.m. as the doors to the Lloyd Center are locked at 7 p.m.
The performance lasts for 85 minutes and there is no intermission.
Catch 'The Fever'
What: Northwest Classical Theater Collective presents "The Fever," by Wallace Shawn
When/Where: Most of the performances are at 6:45 p.m. on Aug. 18, 19, 20, 21, 25 and 27 and Sept. 4 and 8 at Lloyd Center, but there are other venues. Visit https://forms.gle/BWinSverA8cnbNiFA for dates and times. Some shows are already sold out, but there are waiting lists.
More: For more information, visit nwctc.org/upcoming-shows.
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