All posts by Donna Gentry

George and Other Short Stories

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We were so fortunate to have author Terry Bisson and Judy Jensen attend our opening night.  It was a pleasure for the cast to have the opportunity to talk with Terry and enjoy some personal time with him.  If you want more of Terry’s pieces, you can view several film versions of They’re Made Out of Meat on YouTube.  It was interesting to learn that Toxic Donut has been performed at many venues all over the country.  It’s an honor to be among those who have produced Terrys’ work.


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A short 15 minute video from ArtsAlive with Lynda Phillip. What a great interviewer she is…all about Love Letters and how easy it was to direct and cast.  It was the day we were “building” the set, hanging lights and so forth. I dashed out for the interview then ran back to finish up.  I looked dreadful!  Oh well…never prepared am I.

Ronni Lacroute on Love Letters

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What a lovely Opening Night of “Love Letters” at Chehalem Players Repertory tonight in Newberg with James C Halliday and his wife Karen Halliday playing Andrew Makepeace Ladd III and Mellisa Gardner very convincingly through tone of voice, facial expression and body language. What wonderful character development! By the end of the play, I wanted to send both of these deeply flawed but sympathetic characters directly to therapy and then give them a chance to live their lives over. I am thankful to have such high quality theatre in Yamhill County–thank you specifically to Donna Gentry Birnbach for starting this theatre company in Newberg.


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This past year has been amazing!  We have seen wonderful support from area theaters like Bag & Baggage in Hillsboro, who has encouraged us to promote the Passport Free Ticket Program.  Passport Free Ticket program offers free tickets to High School Students in Yamhill County.  That’s right…tickets are 100% free to any student who comes to our doors 30 minutes before curtain.  No longer will the cost of a ticket, be a deterrent for a student who wants to experience live theater.  All that is required is a student I.D. So come and enjoy what we have to offer!

Above the Press has come to our aid with podcasts, marketing ideas and some crazy good stuff for the Oscar Party on 2/22.

In reflecting on 2014 we are filled with thanks and gratitude…we just can’t believe our good fortune.  We have made wonderful connections with great actors in our community and with area theaters.  We have seen incredible donor sponsorship through the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation and great partnership with local businesses, like Allegra Printing.  And our donor base is simply — rock solid.  THANK YOU to our fantastic community here in Newberg for providing everything we need to bring quality theater to your doorstep.

With the 2015 Season eyeballing us — yes it is upon us…just around the corner.  We want to thank you for helping us make great those strides in 2014.  Looking forward, we believe 2015 will be our best season ever.  Starting with a rom-com then moving on to the thought-provoking Terry Bisson adaptations, the hilarious Odd Couple by Neil Simon and closing out with a holiday show, the season is jam packed with great entertainment and brilliant performances.  So fasten your seat belts and get ready for some great theater.

See you in 2015!

Facts vs. Truth

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Khaled: That’s ridiculous. There was no encounter. You’re making stuff up.

Agent: Well of course I am. You of all people should appreciate the importance of doing that. How that might lead you, stumbling, to a truth or two. Facts aren’t the only game in town.

I’ve been thinking lately about the difference between “fact” and “truth:” two words that I’ve used interchangeably for most of my life. It might seem obvious to others, but I’ve been come to realize that there is an enormous difference between the two. A fact is indisputable because it is empirical: fire is hot, Mt. Everest is tall, mammals need oxygen. Truth, however, is something entirely different. It is far more nebulous and ephemeral; it is often based on a group or individual’s interpretation of facts and as such it can be affected by our own biases and prejudices . “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”was how America declared its independence, but that “truth” still doesn’t hold in many parts of the world.  In fact the founding fathers’ “truth” about equality certainly didn’t extend to slaves or women. That truth has evolved with our country’s ever-changing understanding of the world.

Back of the Throat deals again and again with the question of “what are the facts?” and “what is the truth?” This can be especially dangerous when people are asked to give testimony in emotionally charged situations: after a crime has occurred, for example. In college, I was out for a jog and a homeless woman pulled a knife on me while screaming and threatening me. I got away, ran straight to the police station and reported it; the police apprehended a woman immediately and then drove me by in the squad car to make an identification. I saw the woman handcuffed, I was shown the knife that they found on her and I said that, yes, they had arrested the correct woman. But the reality is that I couldn’t really remember her face or what she’d been wearing – all I remembered was the knife. And when I saw the 5” knife they had taken from her, even it seemed different – so much smaller than how I remembered it. This is a normal phenomenon for people after traumatic events occur.

And that is the world of the play. It is post 9/11 – a traumatic event that we collectively experienced and one that still colors our perceptions and memories. Characters in the play are asked to describe the actions and movements of Khaled, the protagonist, but their perceptions are seen through the prism of having survived an attack by terrorists. Khaled is a foreign-sounding name, he was born in another country and he is a very private person: all of these facts shape what is the truth for these witnesses.

It is never made clear in the play whether Khaled is guilty of anything nefarious. The audience is presented with facts and it is up the each individual to determine in the end what the truth is.

“Back of the Throat” Interview with Kym Herbst

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Enjoy this great interview with Kym Herbst who is directing CPR’s newest production, Back of the Throat.  Thanks to the Newberg Graphic and Katy Sword for another great interview.

PDF: Newberg Graphic-Back of the Throat

Link to interview

Back of the Throat opens Friday, April 25th and runs through Sunday, May 4th. Performances dates and times are on the website.

Bringing cutting edge theatre to Willamette Valley is our mission. Back of the Throat is sure to stimulate thinking and conversation about the post-9/11 world we live in.


An Empty Plate in the Cafe du Grand Boeuf – the Director’s Wrap-up

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In a word, this production was “perfection!” All of the run was great and then here it was — the final performance — and, it was rock solid. We had the most amazing party at Jim and Karen Halliday’s home (the incredible hosting prowess of these two is formidable)! Martha Halliday (our unofficial understudy) was there in her favorite jersey. Kathleen Buck and I were spoilt by the cast with flower baskets. But, it was watching perfect performances of timing, pace, pathos, comedy and sketchy blocking (from me) that rocked my world. This extraordinary convergence of people made for the right show — in the right space — at the right time. Nancy Savonick and Steve Lund brought the poisonous dessert every evening…made fresh to order. The cast was flawless – Jaime Speelman-Flatters, Nate Travers, Gerry Birnbach, Jeff Sargent, Karen Halliday, James C Halliday were the hardest working people in show biz…I thank you — all you James Brownses!

martha hallidayAnd then there’s Jim’s mom, Martha Halliday. She came to every rehearsal, knew all the lines and had spot-on commentary. She honestly could have stood in for anyone who may have been out ill. What a pleasure to make a new friend in her. She is so young at 97. She inspires me to live a long and happy life full of family, joy, good health and culture!

All and all, one of the finest productions and teams I have ever had the pleasure to direct!

Notes from the Director About “Empty Plate”

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When I read Empty Plate, I was hooked right away.  It seemed only fitting that a play about exquisite food be presented at the epicenter of the culinary universe (loca-vores galore), Oregon.  As exquisite a play as it is, we had a scary week or two in October/November 2013 when we learned we had to scuttle our planned January production and start a fresh search for our January show.  Really….start from scratch at such a late date?  Finding a new script and getting the casting for a new show within two weeks is a daunting task!  But, when Carr presented the board with the Empty Plate script we were all smitten.  By late November we voted to do it and luckily we were able to cast it so voila — we were off and running.  Well, not running that fast… those darned holidays got in the way posing a huge obstacle to our rehearsal schedules. We couldn’t get together as a cast for weeks and a member of two became pretty sick…  It was touch and go.  Would we make it, skating on such thin ice?

Well, this hearty, intrepid crew worked hard those 4 weeks.  Without ever getting a chance to rehearse in person they had all of their lines memorized.  Having that prep work done proved to be a brilliant strategy because we got down to brass tacks at the first rehearsal. In other words, we actually did hit the ground running!  We have had a whale of a good time discovering the blocking, jokes, humor, pathos and heart of Empty Plate — even at a breakneck pace.  We hope you enjoy your evening as much as we enjoyed preparing it for you!

Meet the Cast of “Empty Plate” – Nate Travers

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Nate is a long time Newberg resident who enjoys his work as a graphic designer and screenprinter at Rendered, LLC. He spends his free time helping with local community events such as Newberg’s Oktoberfest and Tunes on Tuesday. Nate is also on the board of directors for the Chehalem Players Repertory.

Victor's-Next-PlateNate is excited to be back on the stage with CPR. He debuted on the CPR stage in the 2013 production Betrayal, coincidentally playing a waiter, which he plays in “Empty Plate.” Here he is, as Antoine the waiter-in-training, holding the serving tray as Claude (played by Jeff Sargent) serves an empty plate to Victor.