Dating ground

Rather, he’s back with an old one – the true story of Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 failed Trans-Antarctic Expedition and the hardships and ultimate rescue of its 27-man crew – but rethought and expanded into a more complete theater piece.

“We have 130 old photos, and multimedia artist Michael Hill is going to be projecting them on a screen behind me,” Howard said.

“We don’t know what to do.” it, so it’s going to be a little different in its particulars every time out.

His Fertile Ground outing, he said, will consist of “seven or eight stories” strung together, on subjects as varied as “growing up Catholic, being a champion athlete, and living the life of ‘Mr. As his wife, who was making the rounds with him, noted, “I had literally no idea about the stories he’s told.” Lawrence Howard, co-founder of Portland Story Theater, is back at the festival with another of his popular and captivating Armchair Adventures, most of which take place either in the Arctic or the Antarctic.

Nor does the idea of speed-dating, with its cold-eyed transactional implications and instant evaluations, appeal.

Once again Fertile Ground director Nicole Lane was stage-managing this frenzy of what she calls “media speed-dating,” cracking the whip – or, more accurately, blowing a harmonica – to keep things moving swiftly along. I would do my best to simply report the evening as it occurred from my table.

What sometimes seemed like bedlam actually had a drill-sergeant efficiency: Line up in front of a press member sitting at a table. And Bobby Bermea, who wasn’t at date night (sensible man), would tackle the festival from the inside, talking about the stages of some of the shows, and talking with artists about the process of creation.

Fertile Ground is a bubbling stew of creativity at a variety of temperatures and degrees of doneness.

There are, if my count is accurate, more than 75 events during the 11-day festival, which opens officially on Thursday, Jan.

24 (some longer-run shows jump the gun) and continues through Sunday, Feb. But that’s a misleadingly low number, because several of the events include several short works – the Crazy Dukes Instant Play Festival, for instance, on Jan.

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It’s written and performed by Eliza Jane Schneider, a veteran of Joe’s Pub, P. 122 and the NYC International Fringe Festival in New York, and a voice actor who spent a few years doing most of the female voices for the TV show .

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