alternative press serving the lower columbia pacific region

This Month at Pier Pressure Productions

Dead Man's Cell Phone

Nancy Montgomery and Steve Wood

Sara Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone

CONTEMPORARY PLAYWRIGHT Sarah Ruhl’s beguiling and off-beat comedy, Dead Man’s Cell Phone opens with an incessantly ringing cell phone in a quiet cafe.   Jean, an unassuming woman, sitting and enjoying her coffee just can’t let the ringing continue, so she answers the phone of the dead man, sitting in front of her, and he’s got a lot of loose ends.

She confiscates the phone of the dead stranger, satirically becoming his social secretary of sorts, and so begins her odyssey. Through Ruhl’s style of “non-linear realism, the character Jean  is forced to confront her own assumptions about morality, redemption, and the need to connect in a technologically obsessed world.

This surprising and hallucinatory comedy/fantasy welcomes familiar veteran PPP actors Nancy Montgomery, Susi Brown, Steve Wood, and new-to-the-Pier boards Markus Brown, Carrie Barnes, Sofie Kline, Lauren Dalton, and Dawson Shadd.  Directed by Jenni Newton, a cleverly staged production is enhanced by the as-if-by-magic, remarkable lighting design of Larry Bryant.

PERFORMANCES: Opens Friday July 15 and runs July 16, 17, 22, 23, and 24.  All shows begin at 8 pm.  Tickets are $15 and will be available 2 hours before curtain.  The seating is limited for this adult comedy which will be the last play PPP will be showing at 260 10th Street in Astoria.

Writers Tim Hurd and Donna Wright

WEDNESDAY, JULY 19 welcomes back Tim Hurd and Donna K. Wright, who will be reading their own short stories and poetry.  Strong imagery, engaging characters, clever word play, and sensitive themes mark their work.  Together they will present a dynamic evening not to be missed and never to be seen again on this stage.  There will be no admission fee for this event, though a $5 donation is suggested and appreciated.  Curtain time is 7:30 pm.

A trio of Jazz and more: Shelley Loring, Dave Drury and Todd Pederson

THURSDAY, JULY 20 at 7:30 pm. The dulcet tones, reedy and true, of Shelley Loring’s flute and Dave Drury’s fleet-of finger dreamy guitar playing create a beautiful marriage on PPP’s stage.  Joined by bassist Todd Pederson for a night of jazz renderings in the cedar-planked room at 260 10th Street.  The $10 tickets will be available at the door, the evening of this performance. Curtain 7:30pm.

Bill HamWriter/Actor/Comic Bill Ham

FRIDAY AND Saturday, July 29 and 30 at 8pm. Bill Ham brings his humorous writings to 260 10th Street one more time.  In October and January, Ham played to full houses of whom appreciated his smart repartee, sharp humor, satirical wit, and rapid-fire delivery.  The writer/actor/comic promises more new material as well as some of the more popular pieces from his yet-to-be-completed “Infomercials for Myself” in his third solo appearance at PPP. Ham has been an important figure at Pier Pressure Productions from its beginning in 2008.  In Edward Albee’s, The Zoo Story, he gave a jaw-dropping performance in the role of Jerry, a disturbing presence, lost in his disappointing world of despair and disgust.  Ham draws on his own life experiences, the writers who have influenced him, and his wide and varied interests and knowledge to create an evening that guarantees side-splitting laughter and well worth the ticket price of $10.

A sad but gracious note:

Pier Pressure Productions is closing its doors at 260 10th Street on July 31.  The intimate performance space was a hub of activity nearly every weekend since its Grand Opening during the August 2010 2nd Saturday Art Walk.  During the twelve months in its downtown home, this production company will have offered audiences opportunities to view the openings of a dozen visual artists, experience an interactive installation, attend concerts/CD releases, recitals, literary readings/book signings, and see over twenty plays in various forms from staged readings to fully mounted productions.  Fourteen directors, fifty actors, ten published poets and writers, and thirty musicians, high school to professional, have brought their visions and imaginations to this little space this past year.  Hundreds of audience members and friends filtered in and out the door to celebrate the arts in Astoria, support VOCA, and frequent the little theatre/gallery and its efforts to bring thought-provoking material to the community.

Susi Brown, retired high school teacher, started this production company in 2008 with a performance of Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story.  At that time, the company presented its plays in what is now 3Cups, a coffee house located on Marine Drive in the home of the Columbia River Coffee Roaster.  True to its motto, “the coffee that floats the arts,” CRCR has been a stalwart friend to PPP and if you went to any of the events held at PPP, you might have tasted the roaster’s signature blend, Thundermuck.  CRCR, Red Dwarf Graphx, Bent Rabbit Multimedia Studio, 2001 Productions, 3Cups, Astor Street Opry Company, Coaster Theatre, Knappa and Astoria High Schools, Clatsop Community College, Clatsop County Cultural Commission,  and a host of generous individuals donated time, expertise, and money to help PPP this year.  Even with the help of many, the running of this business falls on the shoulders of one very tired and ready-to-retire woman.  “It’s been a busy year, exhausting  and exhilarating,” Brown sighs, and now it is time for a long-needed rest.”

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