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Critics’ favorite ‘Judevine’ coming to PCC
Photos and Story by James Hill
Somewhere in the middle of nowhere is a small town you never knew you loved. That is the premise of Portland Community College’s newest play – “Judevine.”
The Theater Arts program presents “Judevine” by critically acclaimed writer David Budbill as its fall play. This award-winning play mixes drama, comedy and poetic language as it peek into the lives, loves, fears and joys of the inhabitants of the small town of Judevine, Vermont in the late 1980’s. The players will lift the curtain at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 13-14 and 19-21, with a matinee at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 22 in the Performing Arts Center, Sylvania Campus, 12000 S.W. 49th Ave. Tickets are $10 for general admission, $8 for students, college staff and senior citizens. There will be a special showing at 11 a.m., on Thursday, Nov. 19 at a reduced cost of $5 per person.
The student cast features Joseph Copsey (North Bend) as David; Patrick Garrity (Pleasant Hill, Calif.) as Antoine LaMotte; Matt Rivera (Portland) as Jerry; Lauren Modica (Tigard) as Lucy; Nikita Collier as Laura Cate; and Tiffany Dixon as Alice Twiss. Behind the scenes crew includes Patrick Tangredi as director and producer; Frances Marsh is the technical director, Jenni Jennings is in charge of scenic design, Clare Parker is the costume designer and Dan Hays serves as the lighting designer.
Call (503) 977-4949 for more information and tickets, or visit the Theatre Arts website.
Tangredi used the play as his graduate thesis back in 1993 and corresponded via U.S. Postal mail with Budbill. Tangredi, who directed the play at Tulane University in New Orleans in 1992, will again direct the PCC production.
“That show was the Louisiana premiere and this one’s the Oregon premiere,” Tangredi said. “The play uses exceptionally beautiful language with an eye on the forces of nature and how they shape and reflect Judevine’s, and our, humanity. ‘Judevine’ captures the human heart and spirit unlike any other contemporary play.”
Budbill is the author of seven books of poems, eight plays, a novel and a collection of short stories. But “Judevine” is his cornerstone piece which has eager directors from all over the U.S. seeking permission to produce locally.
“(Patrick) contacted me to see if he could do it again and I said ‘yes,’” Budbill said. “I was delighted that Patrick wanted to do it again. I think ‘Judevine’ should be seen all over America.”
In the 1970s, Budbill wrote “Judevine” as a series of narrative poems about people in a somewhat imaginary down-and-out town in third-world America in northern Vermont, the poorest part of the state. One of his actor friends convinced a director to do a staged reading and the poems became much more.
“The director told all the actors that they would not have to memorize any lines since it was going to be readers theater, but then as rehearsals progressed and everyone saw how dramatic the material was, the music stands disappeared and everybody learned their lines, and all of a sudden there was blocking and a set and it was full fledged theater,” Budbill said. “That play opened in the winter of 1980 in Princeton, New Jersey, and the play has been going in various versions ever since.”
From there he developed the play and the poems side-by-side for about 10 years after that production and more or less finished the play in 1990 with the American Conservatory Theatre production in San Francisco. Since then, there have been 60 productions in 25 states, including Harvard University, Yale, the University of Arizona and now Portland Community College.
Did You Know?
- Garrison Keillor reads frequently from Budbill’s poems on National Public Radio’s The Writer’s Almanac.
- Budbill was for a time a commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered.
- The Vermont resident received his first Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from New England College, in Henniker, New Hampshire, in January 2009.
- The Chicago Sun Times has described Budbill’s writing as, “Wrenchingly real, fiercely emotional and unexpectedly funny.”