The Portland Theater Festivals 2nd Season
By Cammie Breuer –
Arts + Culture Editor
With the goal of bringing contemporary, inclusive, and diverse art to the city of Portland Dave Register founded the Portland Theater Festival back in 2021. Besides Fenix Theater, It is one of only two companies with productions throughout the summer season. In partnership with East Shore Arts and The Hill Arts, The Portland Theater Festival produces Sanctuary City by Martyna Majok. Her play Cost of Living won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for Drama and was also nominated for one of the most prestigious awards in theater, a Tony award.
It tells the story of two friends G (Skye Figueroa) and B (Shawn Denegre-Vaught) whose families both immigrated to America when they were young. Now teenagers, they find themselves suddenly living in a post 9/11 world, where undocumented is synonymous with unwelcome. The two care for each other, confide in each other, and most importantly cover for each other.
One day G receives the news that her mother had secretly taken her citizenship exam and passed, therefore because G is still under the age of 18 her mother’s citizenship extends down to her as well. The two devise a risky plan to marry so that B can legally obtain citizenship. Throughout the course of the play, this “couple” faces challenges, obstacles, and complications that puts their friendship through a test of strength, trust, and resiliency..
“It is a story ultimately about friendship, risk, and what people will do for each other when they are pushed up against a wall and when it matters most.” Dave said. His goal with this was to produce a play that would spark conversation about immigration in a city where there is a large immigration rate. It provides ran opportunity for first generation US Citizens to see themselves represented onstage; as well as a means to educate others on areality much different then their own.
Yet this play is also so much more as in the 2nd act we are introduced to Henry (Thomas Campbell), the person that B is actually romantically involved with. Though being 2006 there is now way for the two to marry each other. This adds a complex layer and B is the only person who can make these tough decisions about his own life and future.
There was a chemistry amongst the cast that kept me enthralled and wanting more, knowing that their ability to keep with a fast pace helped convey the feeling of urgency and mystery about what could be. It ultimately made this story 10x as compelling. Before I knew it, the 100 minute runtime flew by and I was on the edge of my seat until the end. If you are looking for something to do before the summer is over might I suggest taking a stop over at The Portland Theater Festival. Production runs Friday, August 17th through Sunday, September 3rd with showings Thursday through Sunday at 7:00pm. Tickets are for sale online at the Portland Theater Festival website where you can either pay the suggested ticket price, or you can pay as you wish, allowing equal access for the opportunity to experience contemporary art.