Contrary to popular belief, all the world is not a stage—sometimes people just say things to get attention. See an actual stage with this GrouponLive deal: for $12, you get two tickets to see Fen, presented by Portland State University’s School of Fine & Performing Arts at Lincoln Hall Auditorium (up to a $24 value). Student and senior tickets are normally $8 each. Choose from the performance shows:
- Friday, May 25, at 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday, May 26, at 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday, May 27, at 2 p.m.
- Wednesday, May 30, at 7:30 p.m.
- Thursday, May 31, at 7:30 p.m.
- Friday, June 1, at 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday, June 2, at 7:30 p.m.
Set in the English marshlands, Caryl Churchill's Susan Smith Blackburn Prize–winning play, Fen, explores a surreal landscape ravaged by international corporate interests. Five actresses and one actor portray an entire village throughout the generations in a series of loosely connected vignettes. After an introduction by a disassociated Japanese businessman, the play begins unraveling the central thread of its narrative, which revolves around Val, who has toiled away her life as a mother and a fieldworker, and who throws everything away to pursue her true love, Frank. A determined idealist, she attempts to sever not only the constrictive fetters of an oppressive, distant upper class, but also the unbreakable bonds of family. As she reaps what she unwittingly sows, a tremendous cast of characters—including the wrathful ghosts of "Fen tigers," the murky country's ancestral warrior-folk—flits through the centuries on stage.
Grim fates abound in the foggy land, where even the humorous notes strike a darker harmony, as when a repressed foster mother plays cruel pranks on her ward or when a group of teenagers (portrayed poignantly by the same actresses that play their mothers) belt out a poppy tune of their hopeless ambitions to be nurses, hairdressers, and dinosaur wranglers. In his 1984 review, Frank Rich of the New York Times said that Churchill's “determinist political line may preordain her play's grim message, monochromatic setting and tragic narrative, but her vigorous dramatic imagination keeps striking sparks in the darkness. She finds more vitality in the swirling mists and gloomy swamps of Fen than some playwrights could discover at a circus.”
Lincoln Performance Hall
In a sense, Portland State's Department of Theatre and Film is at the very center of the university. Its stately home, Lincoln Hall, was the first building erected on campus, in 1911. 475 plush seats curve around the stage of Lincoln Performance Hall inside, built with lots of leg room and a steep incline that insures excellent visibility even during plays cast with the tiniest of actors. The theater underwent a total renovation in 2010, and in addition to the visible facelift, backstage improvements now allow the department to mount even more elaborate productions.