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For the love of ‘The Nightingale’

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Puppet built by art class for theatre production

The next PCC theater production will use puppetry, masks and a stage that brings the audience up close and personal to the actors.

On a theater-in-the round stage, the audience will get a unique and creative look at the story of “The Love of the Nightingale,” by Timberlake Wertenbaker. To better view the production, the audience members will get to sit on stage around the actors.

“It will be a huge difference from what they are used to,” said Dan Hays, PCC theater coordinator.

The play is a contemporary retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Philomele and her sister Procne. “Nightingale” is a vivid and evocative drama that retells Ovid’s story with lush poetry and unforgettable imagery.

“Since the play is a retelling of an ancient myth, we will super-impose the classic with the contemporary,” says director Michael Najjar. “The myth is about epic themes and it will require epic staging.”

The play, held at the Performing Arts Center at the Sylvania Campus, premieres at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 8 and continues March 9-10, and March 16-17. There will be one matinee at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 18. The Friday, March 16 performance will be sign language interpreted. Prices are $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors.

Another unique aspect of the play will be its puppets. Vicki Wilson, a visual arts instructor at the Rock Creek Campus, commissioned her sculpture students to create the various puppet characters needed for the production. The class worked all winter term in creating six-foot tall human characters and several birds with wing spans of five feet. They have elastic arms and legs that will be manipulated by the student actors on stage.

The Love of the Nightingale production

“This is pretty amazing,” Wilson said of the puppets. “This was a great group project for my students. The puppets seem pretty real.”

The student cast includes: Adria Malcolm (southeast Portland) as the Queen, Nick James (Milwaukie) as Hippolytus, Kate Keating (Hillsboro) as Hero, Jessica Panick (Vancouver, Wash.) as June, Danny Fishback (Banks) as Itys, Barbara Skaggs (Tualatin) as Iris, Joshua Wagner (northwest Portland) as Tereus, Richard North (northeast Portland) as King Pandion, Jason Reuter (southeast Portland) as Captain, Veronica Everett (southwest Portland) as Philomele, Tamara Sorelli (northeast Portland) as Aphrodite, Amanda Modrell (Beaverton) as Helen, Chad McNeill (southeast Portland), Madeline McClure (northeast Portland) as Procne, Peter Ashenberner (southeast Portland) as Theseus, Connor Marvin (Lake Oswego), Grant Snider (Beaverton) and Yohhei Sato (northwest Portland).

The play is directed by Najjar and designers include Hays (lighting and set), Margaret Chapman (costume), Diane Trapp (masks and makeup), and Wilson (puppetry).

For tickets, call the PCC Box Office at 503-977-4949. For more information, visit the Theatre website.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, is the Public Relations Manager at Portland Community College. A graduate of Portland State University, James has worked as a section editor for the Newberg Graphic, Wo... more »