B&B Presents “Our Country’s Good”

April 8, 2015

BAG&BAGGAGE PRESENTS POWERFUL, HISTORICAL DRAMA OUR COUNTRY’S GOOD

Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Olivier-Award Winning Play Tells The Story Of Australia’s Founding and Praises The Redemptive Power of Theatre

 

Title slideHILLSBORO, OR – Bag&Baggage Productions, Hillsboro’s resident professional theatre company, is proud to present Timberlake Wertenbaker’s critically acclaimed Our Country’s Good from May 7 – 31, 2015 at The Venetian Theatre in downtown Hillsboro. The play, which has been honored with dozens of awards over the past 30 years, is a potent and expansive historical drama about the early years of England’s colonization of Australia, which also celebrates the truly transformative power of theatre as an art form.

Our Country’s Good is truly an astonishing piece of theatre,” said B&B Artistic Director Scott Palmer, who also directs the play. “Not only does it cast light on a little known piece of history, but it is also a profoundly moving story filled with warmth, humanity and redemption. I love this play and think our audiences will, too.”

The year is 1789. In the penal colony of Sydney, a young, married lieutenant is in the midst of directing the very first play ever to be performed in Australia. With a ragtag cast of convicts, a leading lady who may be about to be hanged, and only two copies of the play available, rehearsals for this Restoration comedy aren’t going well. Yet as the barriers between captors and captives break down, they start to discover each other, both onstage and behind the scenes.

Our Country’s Good was called “a playful but profound piece of theatre” and a “modern masterpiece, lovingly revived” by the Financial Times of London when the play first premiered. The Independent declared Our Country’s Good “glowingly persuasive,” while British Theatre Guide proclaimed “[Playwright] Timberlake Wertenbaker expertly balances humor and tragedy in a truly gripping evening that never lets up the tension… Our Country’s Good is a genuine modern classic.”

“Few stories are as powerful – or reveal the courage and resilience of the human spirit – as Our Country’s Good,” said Palmer. “The play is based on actual events, as recounted in Thomas Keneally’s novel The Playmaker, which makes it an ideal script for Bag&Baggage to end our seventh season of work.”

The play provides the cast with a number of challenges; there are more than 20 characters in the story, but the cast is comprised of only 10 actors, meaning each actor must play at least 2 characters. “The story is essentially about the way that the soldiers and the convicts come to understand, respect and appreciate each other through the medium of theatre,” said Palmer. “So our actors face a real challenge in that they have to play both a soldier and a convict during the play, and do so believably and with empathy.”

The cast is comprised almost exclusively of B&B’s Resident Acting Company, including Cassie Greer (The Great Gatsby, Julius Caesar), Arianne Jacques (Six Gentlepersons of Verona, Private Lives), Jessi Walters (The Crucible, Lear), Colin Wood (The Great Gatsby, Of Mice and Men), Peter Schuyler (Rough Crossing, The Crucible), Clara Hillier (A Miracle on 43rd Street, Six Gentlepersons of Verona), Luke Armstrong (Love’s Labour’s Lost, Of Mice and Men), Andrew Beck (Dial ‘M’ For Murder, Love’s Labour’s Lost), and Gary Strong (Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Merry Wives of Windsor). The Resident Actors are joined by guest artist Damaris Webb, a Portland-based actor, director and movement coach.

“This is a real treat for all of us,” said Cassie Greer, who plays the roles of Duckling Smith and Captain Tench. “We all know each other so well, and many of us have worked together on past shows, but this is the first time the entire Resident Acting Company has been cast in one show.”

“Having all of the Resident Actors working on this show is an incredible opportunity for us,” said Palmer. “Over the years, they have developed such a range of skills together, and they all really understand what Bag&Baggage is all about. As a result, this is going to be a real stand out show for us.”

The design team includes B&B’s Resident Costume Designer Melissa Heller, Scenic Designer Megan Wilkerson, and Lighting Design by Molly Stowe.

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Editor’s Note: Photos and interviews available upon request.

Timberlake-Wertenbaker-009About The Playwright: Timberlake Wertenbaker won the Olivier Award for Play of the Year and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Play for Our Country’s Good, as well as the Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright. Wertenbaker’s plays also include Three Birds Alighting on a Field (Writers’ Guild Award, Best West End Play; Critics Circle Awards, Best West End Play; Susan Smith Blackburn Prize), The Love of the Nightingale (Eileen Anderson Central Television Drama Award), Galileo’s DaughterAfter DarwinThe Break of DayCredible Witness and The Grace of Mary Traverse.

ABOUT BAG&BAGGAGE PRODUCTIONS: Bag&Baggage Productions is Hillsboro’s only professional theatre company. Based at the historic Venetian Theatre in downtown Hillsboro, B&B is committed to innovative and provocative new interpretations of the classics of American and English drama, bringing surprising new insight to stories and writers from our past. Led by Hillsboro native Scott Palmer, B&B is one of the largest non-profit cultural organizations in Hillsboro, has gained an international reputation for excellence and regularly attracts audiences of more than 18,000 to the company’s six-show season.

Calendar Listings:
Our Country’s good
By Timberlake Wertenbaker, Directed by Scott Palmer
Runs: May 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 24, 28, 29, 30, and 31, 2015
Preview Night: Thursday, May 7, 2015
Opening Night: Friday, May 8, 2015
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sunday matinees at 2:00pm
The Venetian Theatre, 253 E Main Street, Hillsboro 97123
Special Events: Meet-the-cast Talk Backs on Sunday May 10, 17, and 24 immediately after the show
Special Events: “Magazine Series” pre-show lectures each Friday at 6:45pm
Tickets: $20 – $30, depending on night and seating section
www.bagnbaggage.org
503 345 9590