Fertile Ground Festival

Fertile Ground is an 11-day arts festival featuring new works by local artists including world premiere projects, staged readings, developing works and a myriad of other arts events from the Portland creative community.


The Fertile Ground Festival will return April 12-21, 2024 under the direction of new Festival Director, Tamara Carroll!

More details will be released as they become available. Keep an eye on this page and make sure to sign up for the Fertile Ground email list for future updates.

What is the Fertile Ground Festival?

Fertile Ground Festival of New Works is an 11-day arts festival that is held every January/February in Portland, Oregon. This city-wide festival is focused on new work from Portland’s creative community in a myriad of art forms. The festival offers dozens of Portland-generated “acts of creation” each year. Projects range from fully staged world premieres, theatrical workshops and play readings, to ensemble, multidisciplinary and collaboration-driven work, to a variety of dance, comedy, film events and more. Fertile Ground spans the spectrum of artistic endeavors and further seeds the next generation of creation through artist conversations, workshops, lunchtime readings and more.

Unlike a typical fringe festival, Fertile Ground features the new work of our LOCAL artists, performers and resident theatre companies, ensuring that the artistic and financial benefits of the festival stay in Portland. Where other new works festivals are curated by one entity, this festival is collaboratively shaped by community consideration to uplift a variety of aesthetic voices. 


Founded by Trisha Mead with the first festival in 2009, and led by Nicole Lane from 2010-2023 the Fertile Ground Festival features a full range of artistic experiences, giving audiences a greater depth and breadth of work from which to choose in a concentrated time frame. From Portland’s oldest and largest producing institutions to its newest, smallest companies to artist-produced projects, the Fertile Ground Festival offers a platform for a range of producers. This festival is nationally distinctive in that it provides a unique model for creating and sharing new work that is of substantive value locally, regionally, and to the national arts scene.

Fertile Ground was launched by the Portland Area Theatre Alliance (the service organization for Portland theatre artists and organizations) in 2009 to provide a platform for Portland theatre companies to showcase their commitment to new work; and vectoring opportunity to invite regional and national artists, artistic leaders and arts aficionados to discover for the rich artistic diversity of Portland for themselves. Over the past decade, the festival has grown its scope of offerings to encompass a breadth of artistic endeavors including dance, multidisciplinary projects, comedy, visual arts, literature, animation, film, and holds the door open to any art form. Fertile Ground aspires to provide a forum where artists, art lovers near and far can come to appreciate that Portland truly is fertile ground for artistic creativity, innovation, and daring acts of performance.

Find the Fertile Ground Festival Online!

Subscribe to the Fertile Ground email list to get updates on Festival registration and calendar of events.

Download the Logo and Media Kit here

Fertile Ground, A City-Wide Festival of New Works

The Fertile Ground Mission Statement

The Fertile Ground Festival of New Works, a program of the Portland Area Theatre Alliance (PATA), serves our community’s artists and audiences by offering a new works festival that features a myriad of artistic endeavors by local artists. The festival provides art-makers and producers a marketing umbrella and professional development opportunities. The annual festival offers a platform that fosters relationships between artists, producers and arts patrons, and deepens an appreciation for the abundant “acts of creation” in our community.


Fertile Ground is committed to the continued examination and expansion of efforts toward equity, inclusion, diversity and accessibility at every level. The festival works toward creating an inclusive, welcoming festival platform shared by intersectional identities and underrepresented voices across race, ethnicity, color, age, gender identity and sexual orientation (LGBTQ2IA+), and physical or intellectual ability.


Fertile Ground respectfully acknowledges that the work made for the festival in the Portland metropolitan area was created on the unceded ancestral lands and traditional village sites of the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin Kalapuya, Molalla and many other Tribes who made their homes along the Columbia (Wimahl) and Willamette (Whilamut) rivers. We honor the many diverse Indigenous peoples who reside in this region — past, present, future. With grateful intentions, we humbly recognize the generations of peoples who have stewarded these lands, indeed these fertile grounds, for eons and still do.

The Fertile Commitment to EDI

The Grow Awards help to address the equity and access barriers to participation in the festival that exists for underrepresented artists. Fertile Ground, with the GROW Panel adjudicating applications, selects 5 GROW Award recipients to receive $500 to be used in the production of their Fertile Ground project. Click here for more information about the GROW awards and the members of the 2022 GROW Panel.

Fertile Ground Press

DramaWatch: Re-seeding Fertile Ground
Marty Hughley for Oregon Arts Watch

Fertile Ground press release
Fertile Ground Raises Funds for New Festival Director

Portland Tribune
Fertile Ground theater festival seeks paid director

Broadway World
Fertile Ground Announces Strategic Hiatus For 2023 Festival

Oregon ArtsWatch
Fertile Ground Festival takes a break

Willamette Week
The Fertile Ground Festival of New Works Is Not Happening in 2023

Portland Monthly
Heart of Stone Mines Uyghur History for Universal Truths

Oregon Public Broadcasting/Think Out Loud
Russian choreographer’s story told in new play, ‘Heart of Stone’

DramaWatch: Desire and Fertile Ground

Broadway World
Fertile Ground 2022 Kicks Off with Virtual and Live Performances – 5 Picks for This Year’s Festival

The Beacon
UP Alumni Stage Pirate Play for Online Theater Festival

The Southeast Examiner
Fertile Ground Fest Streams On

Portland State Vanguard
Witness a fusion of theater and dance at Heart of Stone

Oregon ArtsWatch
DramaWatch: Digging deep into Fertile Ground, and other adventures onstage

Portland Monthly
5 Things to Check Out at the 2022 Fertile Ground Festival

Oregon ArtsWatch
Fertile Ground: Get your festival on

Lake Oswego Review
Lakewood productions online for 2022 Fertile Ground Festival

Willamette Week
Fertile Ground, the Annual Festival of New Productions, Brings Love, Sex and Puppets to a Screen Near You

Judy Nedry Reviews

Portland Tribune
Fertile Ground’s resilient artists

Oregon ArtsWatch
DanceWatch: Moving into Fertile Ground

Here is Oregon
Leaven Dream Puppets premieres latest film, Alma’s Wish, at the 2022 Fertile Ground Festival

Oregon Live
How to make the most of Portland’s formidable Fertile Ground Festival in 2022

Portland Tribune
Bits & Pieces: Rose Festival returns as ‘Rose City Reunion’

Oregon ArtsWatch
We now pause for a word from our pandemic.

Oregon Live
Portland stages offer globetrotting adventures this winter

Here is Oregon
Fertile Ground Festival of New Works announces 2022 lineup

Broadway World
Portland Eurythmy Performs At Fertile Ground Festival

Broadway World
Tim Lafolette, Sings of Love And Community In Inspiring Cabaret at Fertile Ground Festival

Here is Oregon
Fertile Ground Festival of New Works announces 2022 lineup

Willamette Week
Fertile Ground Announces Its Hybrid Online and In-Person 2022 Lineup

American Theatre
Fertile Ground Announces 2022 GROW Awards

Broadway World
Fertile Ground Announces GROW Award Winners Ahead of New Works Festival

Willamette Week
The Fertile Ground Festival, One of Portland’s Largest Presentations of New Works, Will Remain Virtual in 2022

Broadway World
Fertile Ground Festival 2022 Plans Announced

Oregon ArtsWatch
Fertile Ground 2021: The Aftermath

Portland Monthly
5 Things to Stream at the 2021 Fertile Ground Festival

Writer’s Guild Initiative
Interview with Participant, WGI Workshop Participant Darlene Zimbardi

Oregon ArtsWatch
Belling Shakespeare’s cat

Oregon ArtsWatch
Days of Fezziwig past

Oregon ArtsWatch
Looking for light, packing a punch

Oregon ArtsWatch
A room with a redemptive view

Oregon ArtsWatch
Tough questions, tough answers

Oregon ArtsWatch
A ‘Hot Mess’ of a zombie jamboree

Oregon ArtsWatch
Strike up the virtual festival band

Tara’s Way of Trying
Hosted by: Thom Becker

Oregon ArtsWatch
DanceWatch: Jan-bruary is the resilient month

Oregon ArtsWatch
Interactive cookies and scares

Oregon ArtsWatch
Martha Bakes in Black & White

The Columbian
Clark County thespians featured in Fertile Ground festival

6 Things: Fertile ground, live music, local shopping, more

Oregon Live
5 things to do this week: Fertile Ground, ‘Stone Soup’ and Portland jazz composers

Willamette Week
Fertile Ground May Be Virtual This Year, but It’s Still Vibrant

Portland Tribune
Fertile Ground: Theater online, on brand and on point

Oregon ArtsWatch
Fertile Ground 2021: Digital seedlings sprout

Judy Nedry Reviews

Black PR Wire
“Be Careful What You Ask For” by Lisa Collins debuts during the Fertile Ground Virtual New Work Play Festival

Broadway World
BWW Previews: 10 Things to See at Fertile Ground 2021

The Southeast Examiner

Stage & Studio
Dmae Roberts talks with S. Renee Mitchell

Broadway World
Lakewood Theatre Company Presents Online Productions of ACTING COUNSEL by C.S. Whitcomb

EIN Presswire
Queer Quarantine: “Lilies” Film Takes Home Awards at Short Film Festivals

Broadway World
BWW Interview: Fertile Ground Festival Managing Director Dré Slaman

Stage & Studio
Damaris Webb on Martha Bakes

Stage & Studio
Dmae Roberts talks with Damaris Webb

Oregon Live
Portland winter theater, film guide: Organizers adapt to bring arts into homes

Jewish Review
Fertile Ground Fest offers Window into Elder World

America Theatre Magazine
Portland’s 2020 Fertile Ground Fest to Go Online

American Theatre Magazine
Fertile Ground Announces 2021 Festival Lineup

Broadway World
Fertile Ground 2021 Projects Announced; 31 Projects Selected by Community Panel

Broadway World
BWW Interview: Fertile Ground Festival Managing Director Dré Slaman

America Theatre Magazine
Fertile Ground Announces 2021 Grow Award Winners

Broadway World
Fertile Ground Announces GROW AWARD Winners For 2021 Festival

Portland Tribune
Bits & Pieces

Willamette Week
Fertile Ground Festival Will Move Entirely Online in 2021 Due to the Coronavirus

Oregon ArtsWatch
A Fertile Ground of storytelling for our time

Broadway World
Fertile Ground Announces 2021 Virtual Festival Plans

The Fertile Ground Festival

How it Works?

Registration information for the 2024 Fertile Ground Festival will be available in late summer 2023.



1. Festival Overview

Fertile Ground Festival of New Works is an 11-day arts festival that is held every January/February in Portland, Oregon. This city-wide festival is focused on new work from Portland’s creative community in a myriad of art forms. The festival offers dozens of Portland-generated “acts of creation” each year. Projects range from fully staged world premieres, theatrical workshops and play readings, to ensemble, multidisciplinary and collaboration-driven work, to a variety of dance, comedy, film events and more. Fertile Ground spans the spectrum of artistic endeavors and further seeds the next generation of creation through artist conversations, workshops, lunchtime readings and more.

2. What are the Participation Qualifications?

The festival offering should be a new work, or a significant reimagining, from a local artist using local actors/creative team on the project. Each participant is responsible for producing their own event. Fertile Ground acts as an umbrella for publicity, marketing and consulting support.

3. Is the 2022 Festival Curated?

Fertile Ground is an uncurated festival. Being uncurated is a feature that is unique to our festival. We want to provide a platform for all area artists to share their new work with new audiences.

4. What are the GROW Awards?

We are continuing our work to address equity and access barriers to participation in the festival that exists for underrepresented artists. Fertile Ground, with the GROW Panel adjudicating applications, selects 5 GROW Award recipients to receive $500 to be used in production of their Fertile Ground project.

5. How does the Participant / Fertile Ground Partnership work?

Festival participants independently produce their own recorded projects. Fertile Ground is a marketing umbrella, offers ongoing education, and acts as a resource for producers. Fertile Ground is not legally liable in any way for your event. Here are some ways Fertile Ground supports you as a producer:

Festival Website

  • Your project is listed on the Festival website
  • You supply the listing, description, photo/image, donation link and link to project website.

Public Relations & Marketing

  • Media Relations – Your project is included in festival press materials distributed to local, regional, national media
  • Social Media – Your project receives support via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
  • Marketing Outreach – As opportunities arise, your project is included in special events, community partnerships, etc.

Workshops and Roundtable resource events

Fertile Ground offers informational gatherings, workshops and networking opportunities in the months leading up to Fertile Ground. Past events have included a three hour PR & Marketing Bootcamp, a Meet the Press night and a hands-on Box Office Tickets/Passes workshop. We are still in the formulation phase of how these (and other) events will transform in a virtual environment.

General Support

Fertile Ground has a volunteer staff to support you, answer your questions and provide a helping hand.


6. What is Expected of me as a Participant?

Festival Promotion Expectations

  • Promote Festival Pass Donations. This year, donations are how we will be able to produce the festival. Please share all Festival Pass Donation correspondence with your networks!
  • Include the Fertile Ground Festival logo on your marketing materials, digital ads and printed material.
  • Include a descriptive sentence and web url for Fertile Ground in all media releases related to your production. Individual producer media releases are highly encouraged.
  • Include a logo or a description of the festival on your website linking to the Fertile Ground website.
  • Promote your show in conjunction with Fertile Ground to your mail or e-mail list, social media, etc.

Communications Expectations

  • Meet or precede all festival and submission deadlines.
  • Provide complete, accurate information in the format requested (the first time).

7. Can I hire SAG-AFTRA/AEA actors in my Fertile Ground piece?

Producers who are interested in hiring SAG-AFTRA/AEA members need to sign SAG-AFTRA/AEA members to an appropriate SAG-AFTRA/AEA contract. They should contact regional representatives: Albert Geana-Bastare, ageanabastare@actorsequity.org (323-978-8080 x 118) or Gwen Meno, gmeno@actorsequity.org (323-978-8080 x110).

The GROW Awards

Fertile Ground continues work forward from the inaugural 2021 Festival’s efforts to address equity and access barriers to participation in the festival that exist for underrepresented artists via the GROW Awards. The GROW Panel adjudicates these awards, and continues the work in furthering our commitment to encouraging typically underrepresented artists to be a part of Fertile Ground and elevating that work. Funding for the 2021 award came from the Regional Arts and Culture Council, The Think Tank System, and individual donors. The 2022 awards came from Fertile Ground’s operating budget and from The Think System Foundation.

In 2021 Fertile Ground, with the GROW Panel adjudicating applications, selected five (5) GROW Award recipients to receive $500 to be used in production of their Fertile Ground project. New in 2022, the group also designated FG22 projects as “selected” works if they meet the 2022 group’s intention to highlight underrepresented communities,* artistically interesting and culturally relevant “acts of creation,” and projects with an innovative concept for a recorded piece intended for a digital media platform. The aim of this endeavor was to inform festival goers of key projects that involve aligned artists and stories, and to encourage typically underrepresented artists to be a part of Fertile Ground and elevate that work.

Fertile Ground’s GROW Panel selected the five 2022 GROW Award-winning projects, from a submission pool of 12 applications. Fertile Ground created the GROW Awards for the 2021 festival to support organizational efforts to increase access, and decrease financial barriers to allow for a greater participation of new voices. The GROW Panel and GROW Awards were intended to formalize and expand the festival’s initiatives to address equity and access barriers to participation that exist for underrepresented* artists.

*BIPOC, LGBTQ2IA+, Disabled

2022 GROW Recipients

Cosmogonos from producer Yatnra Productions
Yantra Productions presents
By Ajai Tripathi
Director: Ajai Tripathi
Videographer/Filmmaker: Ajai Tripathi
Cosmogonos is a multimedia presentation of creation myths told through shadow puppetry and stop-motion animation. Part I: The Cosmic Serpent presents the beginning of the universe through Mesoamerican folklore, Part II: The World Egg shows the world’s origins as told in Vedic mythology.

Heart of Stone from producer Fool House Art Collective
Dance Performance
Fool House Art Collective presents
Heart of Stone
By Alisher Khasanov & Karen Polinsky
Director & Choreographer: Alisher Khasanov
Video Production: Alexandr Beran
Theater Dance Performance. A 20-minute exploration of the central theme of breaking free from oppression, the first exploratory step in the development of a full-length show by Alisher Khasanov.

Knowledge of Good and Evil from producer Project C.O.C.O.A.
Short Film
Project C.O.C.O.A. presents
The Knowledge of Good and Evil
By Valerie Yvette Peterson
Director: Valerie Yvette Peterson
Three African American brothers are faced with difficult decisions that will challenge their shared upbringing, spirituality and moral compass.


PLEDGE The Musical from producer D&M Associates
Staged Reading
DM & Associates presents
PLEDGE The Musical
By Don Merrill
Director: Don Merrill
Composer: Melody Bell
PLEDGE The Musical is a three-act play that focuses on nine days in the life of a public radio station, run by a small, conservative Arkansas college. KKAR’s (KKAR.org) staff, led by station manager Ava Sanchez, navigates technical problems, political attacks and personnel issues, all while trying to successfully pull off the all-important, twice yearly pledge drive.


The Enemy of the People from producer Street Scenes
Street Scenes presents
The Enemy of the People 
By RaChelle Schmidt
Director: Michael Streeter
A modern-day reimaging of Henrik Ibsen’s classic play An Enemy of the People.  Dr. Katherine Garcia dares to expose an inconvenient truth and faces a swift backlash and unfortunate consequences.


GROW Light

New for the 2022 Fertile Ground Festival of New Works: GROW Light selections!

The GROW Panel for the 2022 festival created this category to “shine a light” on projects aligned with their mission to uplift and center artists and content that express significant representation of underrepresented communities, and that would do so in an artistically notable manner.
Fertile Ground 2022 GROW Light selections:
COCOA Knowledge of Good and Evil
DM & Associates PLEDGE
Do It For Mead Misadventures of Missy Black
Fools House Heart of Stone
Leaven Dream Puppets Alma’s Wish
Polaris Dance Theatre Groovin’ Greenhouse
+Street Scenes The Enemy of the People
Vanport Mosaic SOUL’D
Yantra Productions Cosmogonos
Echo Theater Company Touch and Go
Fertile Ground’s GROW Panel for the 2022 festival made the GROW Light selections. They reviewed each Fertile Ground 2022 project based their submitted project description and scored projected on a 1-10 scale evaluating the involvement of artists and stories from underrepresented (Black, Indigenous, People of Color, LGBTQ2IA+, Disabled) communities. These GROW Light Selections are the top 10 scored projects, that also surpassed a 70% cumulative score average. The GROW Light list includes GROW Award recipients, which was a separate adjudication process.  Scores were collected through a secret ballot voting system, panelists recused themselves from projects in which they were involved, and a proxy vote by non-voting members was cast in their place.

GROW Panel

This GROW Panel is composed of individuals whose identities encompass a spectrum of underrepresented voices,* along with Fertile Ground and PATA representatives. Demonstrating Fertile Ground’s commitment to broadening representative inclusion of local artists, this panel was instituted in order to include a wider range of community artists involved in festival.

This extraordinary community cohort of local artists will adjudicate and award five 2021 GROW Awards, and also identify GROW Panel selected projects with the aim of informing festival goers of key projects that involve artists and stories from underrepresented communities.*

*BIPOC, LGBTQ2IA+, Disabled

Sara Jean Accuardi Headshot
Sara Jean Accuardi

Sara Jean Accuardi’s full-length plays include The Delays, BREAK, The Storyteller, < 3, Love Scenes, and Portrait of the Widow Kinski. Her writing has been produced and developed around the country, including with Theatre Vertigo, Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, Something Marvelous, Victory Gardens, Portland Center Stage, Chicago Dramatists, The Blank Theatre, and Spooky Action Theater. The Delays received the 2019 Drammy Award for Outstanding Original Script, and The Storyteller won the 2020 International Thomas Wolfe Playwriting Competition. Sara Jean holds an MFA in Writing for the Screen and Stage from Northwestern University and is a member of the Dramatist Guild and LineStorm Playwrights. Her plays are available on The New Play Exchange.


Jane Comer Headshot
Jane Comer

Jane Comer, a part of the Portland theatre scene since the 1980’s, is sometimes called a trans pioneer of theatre. Jane has decades of experience making theatre both from before and after transition.  An actor, writer and director, her work recently has focused on solo performance. Her latest work, The Fear of Speaking , was workshopped at the 2020 Fertile Ground Festival, and was featured as the mainstage production of the 2020 Outwright Theatre Festival.  Jane currently serves on the board of Fuse Theatre Ensemble.  


Tamara Headshot

Tamara (they/them) is a director of theatre for all ages, with a passion for thematically challenging and aesthetically compelling work. Currently freelancing as a teaching artist, facilitator, dramaturg, and producer, Tamara previously served as Program Director for Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre Program, in collaboration with Oregon Children’s Theatre. Portland directing credits include Jungle Book (Northwest Children’s Theatre), The Delays (Theatre Vertigo), Good Kids (Oregon Children’s Theatre), and This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing (CoHo Productions). Tamara holds an MFA in Drama & Theatre for Youth & Communities from UT Austin, and is chair of the PATA Drammy Committee. They are grateful for the opportunity to support Fertile Ground’s efforts to increase diverse representation in the festival, and to reduce barriers to access for marginalized artists.


Michael Cavazos Headshot
Michael Cavazos

Michael Cavazos is a Queer Chicano theatre maker and author of the play Gritos y Chismesitos and co-author of Chic and Sassy and Chic and Sassy: The Higher the Hair, the Closer to God. He recently assistant directed Sweat by Lynn Nottage at Profile and became a company member at Hand2Mouth. Michael directed and performed in the theatrical concert Universo and has stage-managed several shows including Imago’s productions of La Belle and Medea; Crave’s productions of Crossing and Red; and Hand2Mouth’s Dream|Logic and Object Karaoke. He is currently working on new works for Crave, Hand2Mouth, and PCS.


James Dixon Headshot
James Dixon

James Dixon is a Portland-based actor, director (SDC), playwright, and equity facilitator. James most recently served as the EDI Chair for the PATA Board of Directors. There is a wealth of self-empowerment, wisdom, and fulfillment in telling your own stories. So James now focuses on creating through an equity lens in an effort to bring communities closer to the stories that display the beauty of the human condition. His favorite directing credits include Bootycandy with Fuse Theatre, The Mysterious Affair At Styles with Linestorm Playwrights, Gender-fication with 360 Labs, and as a Cultural Advisor for Hair with Staged. jamesrdixon.com


Tracy Cameron Francis Headshot
Tracy Cameron Francis

Tracy Cameron Francis is a  first-generation Egyptian-American director, interdisciplinary artist, and producer. She is currently the Artistic Director of Boom Arts and formerly was the co-founder and artistic director of Hybrid Theatre Works in New York which focused on international collaboration and social justice. She was a 2017 TCG Rising Leader of Color fellow, is a core member of Theatre Without Borders  and currently serves on the steering committee for the newly formed Middle East and North African Theatre Makers Alliance . She holds a B.A. from Fordham University in Middle Eastern Studies and Theatre, is a member of the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab and an associate member of SDC


Robert Guitron Headshot
Robert Guitron

Robert Guitron is a father, partner, son, brother, Latino, award-winning choreographer, dancer, composer, jewelry designer, director, actor, certified welder, bonsai artist, and fellow human. He is the Artistic Director and Co-founder of Polaris Dance Theatre since its inception in 2002.  In the past 43+ years, he has worked in the dance, stage and film industry creating work, performing and choreographing around the world for many prestigious dance companies and performing arts organizations. Aside from his repertory work, his credits and accolades come from his involvement in many outreach programs, operatic performances, musicals, music videos, and collaborations with corporations, artists and charitable organizations. Polaris Dance has been a part of Fertile Ground for the past decade bringing Portland’s dance community together under Polaris Dance Theatre’s roof with the Goovin’ Greenhouse — the festival’s dance hub of the festival within the festival. Robert  is at his happiest both professionally and personally when he gets to share his life-long passion for dance, music, and the arts; and is humbled and honored to be with this group of artists and contributing to Fertile Ground in this capacity.


Heath Hyun Houghton Headshot
Heath Hyun Houghton

Heath Hyun Houghton is a Korean American actor, writer and director.  He is a MFA candidate in Dramatic Writing at Goddard College and holds a BA in Theatre Performance from Humboldt State University.  He also studied Korean dance and performance styles in Jinju, South Korea with USD Modern Dance. His writing has been published in Spring Time Magazine and The Pitkin Review.  He has contributed lyrics to albums released by Ultraviolet Hippopotamus and The Turnips.  His plays have been seen as staged readings in South Korea, California, Michigan and Portland, OR.  He works as an arts educator and competitive gymnastics coach and instructor.


Nicole Lane Headshot
Nicole Lane
Nicole Lane is a relationship designer connecting people to content in ways that resonate, and a bridge-builder bringing together people, communities and ideas. Across her life and various careers—from marketing and community-building for the arts and nonprofits, to teaching middle school and motherhood— the through line is consistent. For her it all comes from the same place: connection.  Her work always seeks to bring people and ideas together to elicit meaningful outcomes that lift everyone involved. Since 2004—and in addition to the past 13 years with Fertile Ground—she’s worked at Artslandia, Artists Repertory Theatre, many other arts nonprofits, and on a variety of artistic endeavors with artists, creators and musicians. She is currently the Marketing & Communications Director at Chamber Music Northwest.


Raz Mostaghimi Headshot
Raz Mostaghimi

Raz Mostaghimi is an Iranian playwright, actor, improviser, and theatre teacher.


Bianca McCarthy Headshot
Bianca McCarthy

For over 20 years, Bianca McCarthy (Panel Facilitator) has been passionately committed to the arts & culture landscape of Portland. She has been in development, marketing and communications, for everyone from the Oregon Zoo, to Oregon Ballet Theater, to Schoolhouse Supplies. She has served as the Executive Director for Echo Theater Company for the past six years. When not at Echo, this LatinX/Black femme is also a producer, emcee, and performer.


Tess Raunig Headshot
Tess Raunig

Tess Raunig (they/them/theirs) is a Portland based actor, musician, writer, and teaching artist.  They live with multiple disabilities, and they identify as a queer, non-binary trans person.  They are originally from Missoula Montana, and earned their Bachelors degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Montana.  Tess teaches voice, songwriting and choir at PHAME Academy, an arts school for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.   As an actor, they have worked with companies such as Artists Repertory Theatre, Oregon Children’s Theatre, and Couch Film Collective .  An accomplished musician, they are in a theatrical folk pop band called Sasha and The Children, and Acchord, an a’capella group comprised of trans and non-binary folks.  When they aren’t performing or teaching, Tess enjoys drinking tea, and hanging out with their cat child, Sasha.  And yes, the band is named after Sasha kitty.


Dré Slaman Headshot
Dré Slaman

Dré Slaman, a San Diego native, is an Arab American actor who received her MFA from Northern Illinois University and has also studied at the William Esper Studio and the Moscow Art Theatre. She has been in Portland for 10 years and has been seen on the screen and stages throughout the city. Also an entrepreneur, she is the Founder and COO of local company Farm to Fit –  Portland’s Healthy Meal Delivery Service.  Dré served on the PATA Board of Directors from 2013-2018, and is President Emeritus.  She has been joyfully been working with Fertile Ground since for the past six years.


Logan Starnes Headshot
Logan Starnes

Logan Starnes is a Yunwiya (Cherokee) indigiqueer director and educator. Their work focuses on the welfare of community, working from the idea that artistic expression is inherent to our collective existence, survival, and future. Much of their previous work has centered around deconstructing dominant narratives in order to “re-story” marginalized histories. For Logan, re-storying histories is an act of resistance, healing, and continued cultural memory. They see theater as a learning space—providing an avenue to challenge ideas, privileges, and prejudices within ourselves and others with the ultimate hope of moving our voices forward into the future.


Samson Syharath Headshot
Samson Syharath

Samson Syharath (GROW Panel Chairperson) is a Laotian-American performer, director, educator, playwright, and theatre producer. He received a BA from the University of Arkansas Fort Smith. After studying at the Portland Actors Conservatory, he helped start Theatre Diaspora, a nonprofit committed to celebrating and creatively advocating for the Asian American/Pacific Islander experience through stage work and post show discussion. He is also a member of the Accountability Collective and the EDI Committee Chair with the Portland Area Theatre Alliance. He received the Leslie O. Fulton Fellowship and was named part of the Theatre Communications Group Rising Leaders of Color Cohort in 2017.


Valerie Yvette Peterson Headshot
Valerie Yvette Peterson

Valerie Yvette Peterson has been a writer, author, director and poet, here in Portland for over 30 years. Her writing seeks to bring awareness to social/anthropological issues in acknowledging the adversities present in communities of color that are impacting life every day, in the lives of women.  She has written countless plays and poems, and her work has been featured in the Portland Observer, Stereotype Co. Blog, Dr. Melinda Silva’s podcast and many others. For the past six years, Valerie has been an Associate Producer for the Annual MLK Jr. Keep Alive the Dream Celebration here in Portland, which is the second largest MLK celebration in the country. Valerie holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminology and is certified as a CBT Mental Health Facilitator. 


Mark Woodlief Headshot
Mark Woodlief

A former music journalist, Mark Woodlief (he/him/his) has served and facilitated the Portland theater scene since 2013, with part-time stints in the Portland Center Stage box office and at Artists Repertory Theater. In the first half of his life, Mark was an avid, enthusiastic runner. Diagnosed with the progressive neurological disease multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1994, he now quips, “I used to run five miles in 25 minutes. Now I can’t run five feet.” Mark also dismantles his ableism by embracing the principles of disability justice.


RECENT Team Members

The Portland Area Theatre Alliance is a collection of people. From membership to leadership – it takes individual, personal investment to foster, cultivate and grow a dynamic theatre community. We would love to invite you to join our small team of volunteers to ensure that this festival remains one of Portland’s bragging rights.

Current Committee: 

Harrison Butler, Jane Comer, Samson Syharath, Jessica Wallenfels, Sara Jean Accuardi, Nicole Lane (former FG Artistic Director), Dre Slaman (former FG Managing Director)

Recent Committee Members & Staff

Nicole Lane | Recent Festival Director 
Dre Slaman | Recent Managing Director
Sara Jean Accuardi | PATA Fertile Ground Committee Member (Former PATA Board Member, Secretary)
Samson Syharath | PATA Fertile Ground Committee Member (PATA Board President)
Jane Comer | PATA Fertile Ground Committee Member (PATA Board Secretary)
Jessica Gleason | Former Website & Graphic Design
Nina Monique Kelly | Former Social Media Manager
Maddie Odegaard | Former Marketing Assistant
Lilo Alfaro | Former Collaborative Assistant
Trisha Mead | Founder