Early birds, script-chasers, workshop-watchers and culture vultures already know: Fertile Ground Festival is where you go to see Portland’s newest performance works first.
Produced by the nonprofit Portland Area Theater Alliance (PATA), this annual festival returns every January. Fertile Ground is distinct from other cities’ “fringe” fests in two important regards: 1) It only features local producers, and 2) it’s non-juried, waving creators through an open door to access the critics they value most: audiences.
As you might imagine, that means there’s a lot to see. In 2018, the tenth annual festival presented a lineup of more than 70 works. Offerings included theater and dance, along with flourishes of comedy, musical theater, multi-media performances, staged readings and more. Each year, there is way more to see than one person can manage, and stumbling into something on your own that turns out to be fabulous is part of the fun. It also offers an opportunity to experience a variety of local performance spaces, including Artists Repertory Theatre, Milagro Theatre, CoHo Theatre and N.E.W. (New Expressive Works).
If you like your performance arts like your produce — locally sourced and partially raw — then you’re sure to enjoy Fertile Ground’s bounty. A festival pass for access to the full 11-day festival is $50 and can be purchased on their website.