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Lewis & Clark alumni premier new play at Fertile Ground Festival

January 29, 2014

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In the spring of 2012, while participating in Lewis & Clark’s London overseas study program, Corey O’Hara ’13 penned a script titled Middle Names. Now, a cast and crew of Lewis & Clark alumni and current students are giving life to the language-based comedic drama at Portland’s Action/Adventure Theatre. This production is part of the city’s Fertile Ground Festival, which exclusively showcases works of art that are new and local.

Middle Names chronicles the relationship between three relative strangers who are brought together by the sudden death of a mutual friend. The roles are played by O’Hara, Jahnavi Caldwell-Green ’12, and Brandon Cieslak ’15. 

Behind the scenes, Hannah Brunner ’14 acts as stage manager and Trevor Sargent ’16 is responsible for lighting design. Director Nate Cohen ’13 has been involved with the script since its inception. He directed a staged reading of an early draft at The People’s Show in London.

Since its premiere overseas, Middle Names has evolved with multiple script rewrites and substantial input from Lewis & Clark faculty members. It was presented as a staged reading at the Kennedy Center for the Arts College Theatre Festival in Sacramento, which led to its nomination for the John Cauble Short Play Award.

Last fall, the play ran at Lewis & Clark with a cast and crew of current students as part of the annual One-Act Festival. “Middle Names is a hugely ambitious script for the One-Act Festival, both in terms of length and technical demands,” Cohen explained. Based on a positive audience response to these performances, he and O’Hara decided to produce the play professionally for a broader audience.

“Lewis & Clark provided me with a network of young eager artists looking to support each other and make innovative theatre and art happen in Portland,” said O’Hara.

Middle Names runs January 30 through February 8. Purchase tickets here.

Katrina Staaf ’16 contributed to this story.