Theatrical catharsis

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Viking alums to perform at The Sanctuary in Big Plastic Heroes

Accomplished storyteller Slash Coleman is coming to town along with Portland comedic heavy-hitter Augi Garred to bring several fun-filled nights of theatrical catharsis to the city. The Coleman and Garred ensemble will be presenting a two-part show titled Big Plastic Heroes at Northeast Portland’s The Sanctuary for six dates that span late January and early February.

Man of vision: Slash Coleman has assembled an all-comedian cast for six nights of eccentricity.COURTESY OF Chris Moore
Man of vision: Slash Coleman has assembled an all-comedian cast for six nights of eccentricity.

Coleman, having produced, written and starred in a prior PBS special, 2008’s The Neon Man and Me, will be performing a piece to be featured in an upcoming PBS special. Each show will be different but still carry the same basic theme: unlikely teenagers cast into heroic scenarios.

That isn’t to say that the cast is filled with teenagers, or even that it will be the same shtick every night. Each performance features a rotating cast of “special guests,” including local politician Karol Collymore. And more importantly, among the wildcard cast members are three Viking alums.

After graduating from PSU in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in communication, Ry Stroud is back at our school and pursuing a Master’s degree in conflict resolution. His approach to theater is very in-line with Coleman’s. He met both Coleman and Garred at 2011’s Singlehandedly festival, which was organized in part by Portland Story Theater.

Portland Story Theater is a company that entertains and envelops its viewers. Their style of theater is unique, in that one veteran storyteller takes the stage at a time, maintains strict eye contact with the crowd and never lets up. The stories are real, heartfelt and often powerfully moving. Stroud’s story at Singlehandedly 2011, called “The Most Beautiful Place on Earth,” dealt with his life as a youth alone in the wilderness of varying locations. His date with the ensemble is Jan. 26.

There’s a good chance you’ve heard the name Meagan Kate, especially if you’re familiar with laughspin.com, for which she worked as a reporter, or with Punchline Magazine and nerdpuddle.com, for which she was a correspondent. She’s another PSU graduate who, like Penny, holds a Master’s degree. She performed in Road House: The Play when it ran last year.

That said, her comedic mettle has been tested time and again, both on small stages (Someday Lounge, where Road House first premiered) and large ones (Portland Center Stage’s Armory theater, where the show ran for six dates in May 2011). She has written for online humor sites, where the anonymity of the Internet breeds the harshest criticism. She currently teaches at Portland’s own P.H.A.M.E. Academy. She performs in Big Plastic Heroes Jan. 28.

Penny Walter is an accomplished puppeteer with a Master’s degree from PSU in curriculum and instruction. She formed her own production company, aptly titled Penny’s Puppet Productions, in 2002. Since then, she’s created, starred in and produced more than 50 numbers, including mini-musicals that star several of her puppets, all of which are her own creations, with each exhibiting their own personalities and temperaments.

Before she entered the realm of professional puppetry, Penny was a teacher to kindergarteners and first-graders. It was here that she refined her puppet craft, and she has worked as a professional entertainer since. She performs in Big Plastic Heroes Feb. 3.

Each show has its own unique identity. Garred’s show, titled “Teenage Commando,” details the real-life account of Garred’s youth in a comparatively small Michigan town. As a young man growing up in a community that offers zero activities other than frolicking in the cornfields that engulf the outskirts, Garred’s solution was obvious: assemble a ragtag group of make-believe commandos and phalanx the burg.

On the flipside, Coleman’s piece, “Last American Gladiator,” deals with his real-life experiences, including his untraditional upbringing, his man-crush on Evel Knievel and his lady-crush on his third-grade teacher, the culmination of which lands Coleman in the hospital. Despite this treacherous turn, the story is uplifting and inspirational.

Although Coleman lives in Virginia, he has many ties to the Portland community. He studied at Oregon College of Oriental Medicine and performed at Singlehandedly 2011 alongside cast member Ry Stroud and fellow show creator Augi Garred. His PBS special, The Neon Man and Me, met with much acclaim—enough to get him invited to the 2009 National Storytelling Festival and a number of off-Broadway productions.

Garred is perhaps best known for his one-man show “Sexy Nurd,” where he played to several sold-out crowds. He spent some time in Los Angeles, where he was featured on NBC’s Last Comic Standing and starred in many shows for theater companies in the area. He, too, performed—as “Sexy Nurd”—at Singlehandedly 2011 alongside Coleman and Stroud.

Big Plastic Heroes
Jan. 21, 26, 27, 28 and Feb. 3 and 4
Online tickets: $15 advance, $17.50 reserved, $10 students with ID
Door tickets: $17.50 advance, $20 reserved
The Sanctuary (1785 NE Sandy Blvd.)
Doors open 6:30 p.m.,
Show begins 7:30 p.m.
All ages

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