Jesuit Takes on City-Wide Festival of New Works


For 11 days in Portland, Oregon the Fertile Ground festival of new works presents 72 world premieres of the arts. From fully staged productions, workshops, and readings, to dance, comedy, and film, Fertile Ground celebrates the variety of creativity that this talented city has to offer. Launched by the Portland Area Theater Alliance, Fertile Ground breathes Portland. For nine years, strictly local artists, performers and resident theater companies gather to put on an array of artistic performances.

Two of Jesuit’s very own will be participating in the festival this year.

On January 27th and 28th at the World Trade Center, sophomore Xavier Warner will be in the staged reading of 1980’s Teen Musical. The play follows the life of Samantha, a senior at John Hughes High who’s tired of dealing with exclusive social groups, stereotypes, and bullying.

“I play the prince so I am in charge of the models and the dancers of the school.”

But this is not Warner’s first rodeo.

“Since I was three I’ve had my eye set on Broadway. I’ve been doing a lot of theater since then and have been in a lot of productions. I’m working hard and hoping to get there someday.”

On January 28th at the Lakewood Theater, senior Natalie Schur will watch a staged reading of her play Work in Progress, as part of Fertile Grounds first ever Young Playwrights Festival.

“My play is a comedy about how teenagers don’t want to hang out with their parents. And it’s definitely inspired by my family, because like all families, sometimes we don’t get along.”

As for writing in the future, Schur doesn’t know yet.

“I’m not majoring in it but maybe I’ll do it on the side.”

Directing and producing the Young Playwrights Festival is Jesuit alum Megan Ward Stevens.

“I started taking theater classes when I was 5 years old and then I began doing theater while at Jesuit. I was in the ensemble in Jesus Christ Superstar and played “Older Wendy,” I was in West Side Story, and my senior year I was in Peter Pan.”

Stevens took what she learned from Jesuit and continued with her theater career.

“I then went on to Santa Clara University before transferring to Goldsmiths College, University of London where I graduated with a degree in Drama/theater Arts. After graduation I interned at Portland Center Stage as the Artistic and Literary Assistant. Now I’ve been freelance producing and directing since 2007.”

For the Young Playwrights Festival, Stevens reached out to all high schools in the metro area.

“I was contacted by Elaine Kloser, saying an alum was directing a festival that I might be interested in. So I went online and submitted, not really knowing what to expect. But I’m so happy I did!” Natalie Schur said.

The festival takes place from January 19th to the 29th.