Backstage at the Keller

We start actual performances Friday November 7, 2008. We have had all the stagings, rehearsals, and dress-rehearsals we’re going to get, so its go-time on Friday.

I am the second on the right... see me?

I am the second on the right... see me?

This was the concept sketch for the Keller

The Keller Auditorium in Portland was a very old theater, built around the turn of the century, and word has it that it was subject to a massive renovation in the mid 60s. This was more than the theater, but involved the surrounding streets as well. Market street got a level change, and the theater itself was pushed backwards across much of Second Avenue. If you observe the neighborhood outside, you can see it is part of a complex of buildings that were built at similar times, and there is a very large fountain complex as well across the street. The entire neighborhood to the South has that “urban renewal” feel to it, with planned park walks, 60’s era high-rise apartment blocks etc. Its actually a bit of a lonely place. (60’s vintage urban renewal always seems to create alienating spaces – parks that no one likes, with too much over-designed concrete etc… but that’s another story) Local word has it that whole ethnic neighborhoods in that area fell to the bulldozer and city planners back then.

All of this shows in the fabric of the Keller. The audience spaces are showing a little threadbare, and the lobby is a mess, with not enough room for people during intermission, and always a line at either of the two bathrooms…Now I know what women are always complaining about at ball games…

Backstage, the concrete and brick walls of the hidden staircases and back rooms tell a story of many re-fittings. There are concrete castings from the original building that show the wood grain of the original fir forms. There are sections of random bricks, cinder blocks an steel re-enforcing rods, all stitching the place together like a very old pair of jeans. Every surface is the same color of off-white. The staircases are narrow and utilitarian, and wind up 5 stories, each level having a specific role for our production.  Its’ all neat and orderly, but with a confining comfort.

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