Directed by Jackie Apodaca
Dramaturg: Lue Morgan Douthit
This developmental workshop is a collaboration with Bag&Baggage Productions
The Swallowtail Players, The Aurora Canyon Community’s Premier (and only) Theatre troupe invite you to a public reading of one of their most important texts, Our Utopia, written by the community’s founder Aurora (transcribed by playwright Carlos-Zenen Trujillo).
“The word ‘utopia’ is so loaded. I think about it a lot. What does it mean? Does it mean love? Does it mean family? Does it mean the beauty of the world unfurling before you?” – Sister Aurora
Trujillo, an ANPF 2021 New Voices playwright, returns to ANPF with this immersive new play, a commission of Bag&Baggage Productions, which is co-producing this developmental reading.
The story of delves into the darker side of an idealistic community. Drawing inspiration on Our Town, the play asks big questions about belonging, community, and our place in this world.
“Oregon is home to its share of idealistic dreamers, communes, and, well, cults. Our Utopia asks what we are willing to give up so that we can belong,” shares ANPF Artistic Director Jackie Apodaca, who is the Our Utopia director for both this workshop and the play’s world premiere at Bag&Baggage in the fall of 2023.
Trujillo is an alumnus of Southern Oregon University, and their play Christmas, Contigo premiered in 2021 at the Oregon Cabaret Theatre. Currently, Trujillo is a cohort member of Artists Repertory Theatre’s PATHWAYS Mentorship Program.
In 2020, I had a startling realization: I’m an Oregonian. (I know how it sounds, but stay with me.) I’m an immigrant, and part of the immigrant experience is a deep rootlessness. Despite having lived most of my life in the US, I still don’t feel truly “American,” and despite having spent most of those years in Oregon, I never identified as a real Oregonian. In 2020, however, I became very introspective (I wonder why) and one of those 3 a.m. thoughts was the fact that this state has profoundly altered my psyche.
What is an “Oregon” story, what makes it “Oregonian”? My conclusion is: Oregon is a land of lost dreams. Lotus Eater Country. It is the place where Utopian daydreams become real. And where they more often than not become nightmares.
This state is defined by independence, the idea that here, you’ll be left alone to create your little slice of heaven. And it has broadcast that image to the world. From the Oregon Trail to Portlandia, we love to let the world know that in Oregon, you can just be. You can be yourself, and so long as you work hard enough, you too can create paradise. And yet. That isn’t the whole truth, is it? Not for the Indigenous peoples of the Northwest, the victims and survivors of the Rogue River Wars. Not for the Chinese rail workers in Hell’s Canyon. Not for the Black Oregonian excluded from setting foot in the state.
Oregon has more ghost towns than any other state in the union. They dot our forests and valleys as a reminder of all the hopes and dreams this place has swallowed. This state has a magnetic pull to those dreamers (good and bad).
Our Utopia is that story. An Oregonian Our Town. Also, it’s a story of how dreams can become nightmares, and how our desire for a better life can become twisted into something darker. But more than anything, at its core, it is a call for empathy. It’s easy to sit in a theatre, or behind a screen, and judge people who fall into cults, but have you ever stopped to think: Am I in a cult? What am I willing to sacrifice to protect? What lengths will I go to live my dreams? What will I give up for Utopia?
|Eden||Lauren Bone Noble*|
|Stage Directions||Asa Warnock|
|Stage Manager||AJ Ark|
*Appearing through an Agreement between ANPF and Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
Play Length: Runtime will be announced during the development week
Carlos-Zenen Trujillo (they/them) was born in Bejucal, Cuba, and has lived in Oregon since 2006. Carlos acknowledges that they live and work on the ancestral lands of the Kalapuya and Atfalati peoples. Their writing work includes: The Island in Winter or La Isla en Invierno (Inaugural Problem Play Project Commission); Abundancia (Reading; Matchbox Theatre); Christmas, Contigo (Oregon Cabaret); and Our Utopia (Bag&Baggage Productions; Fertile Ground).
Their acting work includes: Alfie Byrne in A Man of No Importance and Teacher in Small Mouth Sounds (Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University); Patrick Chibas in Spinning into Butter (Bag & Baggage Productions); Nurse/Prince/Sampson in Romeo y Julieta (Seattle Shakespeare Company); and OSF Acting Company Trainee 2020.
Their honors include: ANPF New Voices 2021 Retreat Participant; Certificate of Merit in Dramaturgy (The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui); Irene Ryan Award nominations (A Man of No Importance; Elektra); Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) ASPIRE Leadership Fellow 2019, KCACTF John Cauble Award. They are also a KCACTF Directing Fellow 2020.
Carlos-Zenen has a BFA in Theatre Arts from Southern Oregon University. Currently they are a Pathways Fellow at Artist Repertory Theatre in Portland, Oregon. They are a Certified Home Care Worker and a Certified Executive Chef from Culinary School at Northwest Culinary Institute. Carlos will be going to France this year as part of the American Pavilion Culinary cohort at the Cannes Film Festival.
Carlos’ passions are folklore, poetry, floral arrangements, dominoes, cooking, and playing with their big dumb Husky son, Rocky.
Click here to read Carlos-Zenen’s New Voices Playwright Profile.
Click here to read Carlos-Zenen’s Our Utopia Playwright Profile.
Professor of Theatre and Head of Performance at Southern Oregon University Jackie Apodaca has worked as an actor, director, and producer in theatre, film, and media, with companies such as Roundabout Theatre Company, Denver Center Theatre Company, National Geographic, Modern Media (Head of Production), Venice Theatre Works (Associate Artistic Director), and Shakespeare Santa Barbara (Producing Director).
Jackie is the author of the book Answers from the Working Actor published by Routledge in 2018, and spent more than a decade at Backstage Newspaper, where she was a Contributing Editor.
She earned her MFA from the National Theatre Conservatory at the Denver Center Theatre Company and her BFA from UC Santa Barbara. Locally, she facilitates Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Acting Trainee Program and is a former board member of the Ashland Independent Film Festival.
Jackie joined ANPF in 2016 as Associate Artistic Director, serving as casting director and regularly acting and directing for the company. She became ANPF’s fourth artistic director in January 2021. During her time with ANPF, she has also directed The Night Climber, Go. Please. Go., Constellations, The Bottle Tree, and Remains and Returns, as well as played roles such as Kit in EdanEv, the title role in Sofonisba, and Beth in Cold Spring.
Lue Morgan Douthit is the president/co-founder of Play on Shakespeare. Prior to that, she spent 25 seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival where she was director of new play development and dramaturgy. She also was the production dramaturg for more than 50 productions, including 15 world premieres: Hannah and the Dread Gazebo; Head Over Heels; A Wrinkle in Time; Family Album; The Unfortunates; The Tenth Muse; WillFul; Throne of Blood; Equivocation; Don Quixote; Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter; Tracy’s Tiger; By the Waters of Babylon; Continental Divide; and, The Magic Fire.
She has worked on over a dozen Shakespeare productions, including co-adapting a six-actor Macbeth and seven-actor Measure for Measure, which were both produced at OSF and elsewhere. She was the co-producer and founder of the Black Swan Lab (2009) at OSF and subsequently produced the Lab until 2016. Lue is the recipient of the 1999 Literary Manager & Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA) Prize in Dramaturgy and The Elliott Hayes Award for her work on Lorraine Hansberry’s play Les Blancs.
She received her PhD from the University of Washington, her MFA from Trinity University, and her MA from University of Arizona.