Portland, OR. This July, Portland Center Stage at The Armory celebrates the 20th Anniversary of JAW: A Playwrights Festival. The two-week festival — during which artists from across the country collaborate to workshop and develop new scripts — culminates in the Big Weekend of free staged readings, along with community classes, dance, music, and other events at The Armory.

The JAW Big Weekend is July 27-29. Free public readings of scripts in development will be presented at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. For more information visit www.pcs.org/jaw.

JAW 2017, “In Old Age” by Mfoniso Udofia in rehearsal, director Logan Vaughn, playwright Mfoniso Udofia, and actors Jenny Jules and Marcus Henderson.

Actors in rehearsal for “Testmatch” by Kate Attwell, JAW 2017, (L-R) Renata Friedman, Laura Faye Smith, Mahira Kakkar, Dana Green, Tanya Selveratnam.

JAW’s BIG 2-0H brings the work of four dynamic playwrights to Portland. Meghan Brown serves up power, complicity, pleasure, fear … and food … with her outrageously funny play The Tasters. Clarence Coo presents an unusual yet entirely understandable preference to jays, sparrows and warblers over humans with The Birds of Empathy. Emily Feldman challenges the way we hear women’s stories, using humor and arresting imagery in Pick a Color. Finally, Matthew Paul Olmos brings magical realism and visceral theatricality together to explore how children are impacted by complicated adult fears in three girls never learnt the way home. Developing short scripts alongside these seasoned playwrights are the JAW Promising Playwrights, local high school students from Portland Center Stage at The Armory’s Visions & Voices program, who have been commissioned to write new scripts for the festival’s kickoff event.


FRIDAY, JULY 27, 2018

8:00 p.m.                   JAW KICKOFF: An evening of 10-minute plays written by six Portland-area high school playwrights             Ellyn Bye Studio 


1:00 to 3:00 p.m.      Community Artist Lab: You in Your Play: Autobiographical Writing for the Stage with playwright Emily Feldman*  
1:30 to 3:00 p.m.      Panel: Where Are They Now with guest playwrights from JAWs past  Ellyn Bye Studio
3:00 to 4:00 p.m.      In the Groove dance battle hosted by Michael Galen                                     Main Lobby
3:00 to 8:00 p.m.      Etsy Maker Fair                                                                                                        Mezzanine
4:00 p.m.                   STAGED READING: three girls never learnt the way home by Matthew Paul Olmos                                                                               U.S. Bank Main Stage
7:00 to 8:00 p.m.     Tribally influenced hip-hop with Stryk-9 and 2 8 THA NATIVE                       Main Lobby


7:00 to 8:00 p.m.     Food art installation from Shannon Sims, tasting at 7:45 p.m.                        Mezzanine
8:00 p.m.         STAGED READING: The Tasters by Meghan Brown U.S. Bank Main Stage


SUNDAY, JULY 29, 2018

12:00 to 3:00 p.m.   Community Artist Lab: Stumbling Upon It: Exploring Writing From the Subconscious with playwright Matthew Paul Olmos*


12:00 to 3:00 p.m.   Community Artist Lab: Table Work on Your Feet with Director Margot Bordelon*                   
3:00 to 4:00 p.m.     Harmony driven folk band Five Letter Word Main Lobby
4:00 p.m.                  STAGED READING: Pick a Color by Emily Feldman                        U.S. Bank Main Stage
7:00 to 8:00 p.m.     Tracing the Essence by Subashini Ganesan and collaborators                        Main Lobby
8:00 p.m.                  STAGED READING: The Birds of Empathy by Clarence Coo         U.S. Bank Main Stage



With a rebel army poisoning government leaders left and right, the women known as Tasters have an important political role: Every day, they eat delicious gourmet meals and wait to see if it kills them. When the rebellious Elyse starts a hunger strike, she kicks off a series of events that could change the course of history — but not before she puts all of the Tasters’ lives in jeopardy. Meghan Brown’s new play about power and complicity (and pleasure and fear and food!) is outrageously funny and undeniably timely.

MEGHAN BROWN is an Ovation Award-winning playwright based in Los Angeles. Her full-length plays include The Pliant GirlsThe Kill-or-Dies and Shine Darkly, Illyria. She is a founding member of The Temblors. Meghan wrote the book and lyrics for a new musical adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma with composer Sarah Taylor Ellis. Emma has been workshopped throughout the U.S. and in London, and was the pilot musical for Apples and Oranges Studios’ THEater ACCELERATOR. Meghan wrote the lyrics for the song cycle Untuned Ears Hear Nothing but Discord, which premiered at Lincoln Center as part of In Need of Music: The Songs of Ben Toth. Current projects include the original musical These Girls Have Demons (music by Sarah Taylor Ellis, workshopped as part of Pittsburgh CLO’s SPARK festival) and Cowboy Elektra (with Rogue Artists Ensemble, music by The Dustbowl Revival’s Zach Lupetin). meghanbrown.net 


Nathan is alone. His ex-boyfriend has gotten engaged, his mom has retired to Costa Rica, and his social life has devolved into a parade of unsatisfying encounters. But Nathan loves birds — watching them, discovering them, identifying with them. So when an unexpected visit from an estranged neighbor threatens to destroy his routine, Nathan has to confront a crucial question: Does he even need people when he’s got jays, sparrows and warblers?

CLARENCE COO is the recipient of a 2017 Whiting Award and the winner of the 2012 Yale Drama Series competition. His plays include Beautiful Province (Belle Province), People Sitting in Darkness and The God of Wine. His work has been developed at Atlantic Theater Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, New York Theatre Workshop and Bay Area Playwrights Festival. He has received fellowships from The Dramatists Guild of America, Rita Goldberg Playwrights’ Workshop at The Lark, New York Foundation for the Arts and Playwrights Realm. He received his M.F.A. in playwriting at Columbia University. Currently he is a resident playwright at New Dramatists, a member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab and the manager of academic administration for Columbia University’s M.F.A. Writing Program. 



Pick a Color follows four women taking refuge in a local nail salon to momentarily escape the stresses, heartbreak — and joys — of the busy winter holiday season. Playwright Emily Feldman uses her consciously theatrical storytelling style to present intimate portraits of women digging within themselves for the strength to fight off an army of reasons to despair. Shot through with humor and arresting imagery, the play celebrates the resilient emotional lives of women of middle age living in the American present.


EMILY FELDMAN’S work has been developed by The Playwrights’ Center, Colt Coeur, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Magic Theatre, Alliance Theatre, Roundabout Theatre Company and Playwrights Realm. She has been an Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition finalist, an Ashland New Play Festival winner and a member of The Working Farm at SPACE on Ryder Farm. She’s currently a member of Interstate 73 at Page73 and The Orchard Project NYC Greenhouse. Emily is a recent Jerome Fellow at the Playwrights’ Center and is the 2017-2018 Shank Playwright in Residence at Playwrights Horizons. This summer, she’ll be working on a new play at The New Harmony Project and Wild Wind Performance Lab. She holds an M.F.A. in playwriting from University of California San Diego and a B.A. from Middlebury College. 



Matthew Paul Olmos’ play focuses on the friendship of three minority girls, who find themselves straddling two different worlds after being bussed to a newly integrated school. Using elements of magical realism and visceral theatricality, three girls never learnt the way home explores the question of what happens to children caught in the middle of complicated adult fears.

MATTHEW PAUL OLMOS is a three-time recipient of a Sundance Institute fellowship/residency; a resident playwright for New Dramatists, Center Theatre Group and Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Black Swan Lab; and has received a Princess Grace Award and La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Emerging Playwright Award, as selected by Sam Shepard. Mentored for two years by Ruth Maleczech (Mabou Mines/SUITE), he is a New York Theatre Workshop fellow, Baryshnikov Arts Center resident, Echo Theater resident, Ensemble Studio Theater lifetime member and proud Kilroys nominator. His work has been presented nationally and internationally, taught in university, and published by Samuel French and NoPassport Press. Current works include American Nationalism Project (New York Theatre Workshop’s Adelphi Residency); a play with music, We Walk Along the Christmas Bridge (Center Theatre Group’s L.A. Writers’ Workshop); a three-play cycle about questionable presidents; and his completed three-part cycle So Go the Ghosts of Mexico, Part Three (world premiere at Undermain Theatre in 2019). 



Since launching in 1999, JAW: A Playwrights Festival has created a space for playwrights to have complete creative control and the resources to work on whatever they want to develop in their scripts. Each year, playwrights are chosen from nearly 200 submissions nationwide to collaborate with directors, dramaturgs, actors and other theater professionals from across the United States. Since its inception, 82 scripts have been developed at JAW and 17 JAW plays have received fully staged productions at Portland Center Stage at The Armory, giving Portland a strong national reputation for not only incubating new work, but helping to see that work to successful fruition. JAW plays have also gone on to receive world premiere productions at professional theaters across the country and beyond, including New York Theater Workshop, Steppenwolf Theatre and Berkeley Repertory Theatre. 


Portland Center Stage at The Armory’s Associate Artistic Director Rose Riordan is the JAW Festival Director. Joining her on the JAW team are JAW Festival Co-Producers Kelsey Tyler and Brandon Woolley; JAW Literary Manager Benjamin Fainstein; JAW Festival Company Manager Will Cotter; Education and Community Programs Associate Clara-Liis Hillier; Promising Playwrights Director Matthew B. Zrebski; a slew of guest artists, both local and from around the country, including directors, dramaturgs, actors and other theater professionals; and the hardworking staff and volunteers of Portland Center Stage at The Armory who bring their talents and energies to JAW each year.

LOCATION: All public JAW events happen at The Armory, 128 NW Eleventh Ave., Portland, Ore., 97209

ACCESSIBILITY: Portland Center Stage at The Armory is committed to making its performances and facilities accessible to all patrons. Learn more at http://www.pcs.org/access/.

AGE RECOMMENDATION: Most JAW events are recommended for high school age and up. 


Portland Center Stage at The Armory is the largest theater company in Portland and among the top 20 largest regional theaters in the country. Established in 1988 as a branch of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the company became independent in 1994. Around 150,000 visitors attend The Armory annually to enjoy a mix of classical, contemporary and world premiere productions, along with a variety of high quality education and community programs. Eleven productions are offered each season, in addition to roughly 400 community events created — in partnership with 170+ local organizations and individuals — to serve the diverse populations in the city. As part of its dedication to new play development, the company has produced 26 world premieres and presents an annual new works festival, JAW: A Playwrights Festival. Home to two theaters, The Armory, which was originally built in 1891, opened its doors in 2006 as the first building on the National Register of Historic Places, and the first performing arts venue in the country, to achieve a LEED Platinum rating.


JAW: A Playwrights Festival is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts; The Kinsman Foundation; and Don and Mary Blair. Portland Center Stage at The Armory’s 2017-2018 season is funded in part by Season Superstars Tim and Mary Boyle and Lead Corporate Champion Umpqua Bank. Further support comes from Season Sponsors the Regional Arts and Culture Council, The Wallace Foundation and the Oregon Arts Commission, a state agency funded by the state of Oregon and the National Endowment for the Arts. Mark Spencer Hotel is the official hotel partner. Portland Center Stage at The Armory was selected as a participant of the Wallace Foundation’s Building Audiences for Sustainability Initiative, a four-year effort with a nationwide cohort of 26 performing arts organizations.