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Pacific University instructor directs a show that mixes live performance and video.

COURTESY PHOTO - Longtime Pacific University theater instructor, Jacob Coleman, directs 'Our Ruined House,' starting June 27 at Reed College in Portland. "Our Ruined House" features a tiny meatloaf, a giant octopus, Donald Rumsfeld, and describes itself as an electro-pop dance party.

The wild concept is the imagination of Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble, founded by a name recognizable to Forest Grove residents. Jacob Coleman is a Pacific University instructor in the theater department who has taught classes, such as Applied Theater Workshop, since 2012. He also directed Pacific shows, including "They Don't Pay? We Won't Pay!" and "The Scrivener."

"I love working with the students there, and started to direct shows in collaboration with the university's Center for Gender Equity as part of their programs after they wanted to highlight something that goes along with their programming, like 'The Laramie Project,'" Coleman said.

His latest directorial project is "Our Ruined House," a production years in the making for the company.

Written by Robert Quillen Camp, an artist based out of Colorado, the production focuses on geopolitical relationships like the one between The United States and Russia during the Cold War, along with romantic relationships. The name "Our Ruined House" comes directly from a contemporary Russian poem called "Last Toast."

In the play, multimedia is a character unto itself, Coleman says, with a direct focus on using video as almost another body on the stage. It also features the words of past Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld from past news conferences he gave in the lead-up to the Iraq war, serving as a bridge between the past and present issues. The audience's perception of what is "true" influences the production.

The choreography and visuals are "nonstop," and feature some of the best performers in the area, Coleman said.

"This is quite beautiful, stunning, funny and exciting," he said. "This is kind of a new experience, and learning to use the medium has been a challenge. Our process is different for all our shows, but this development of this show is a hallmark for PETE."

COURTESY PHOTO - Pacific University's Jacob Coleman directs 'Our Ruined House' in Portland this summer. Coleman encourages theater enthusiasts to attend a performance that will make them walk away with something to talk and think about, he said.

"Expect the unexpected. It has a lot of surprises in store, and it is an adventure and mystery," Coleman said. "It isn't much of a sit back, you won't have to do any work. It's a 'Come with your adventure suit on and let's

have fun together' type of show."

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays, June 27-July 13, at Reed College Performing Arts Building, 3203 S.E. Woodstock Blvd., Portland. Tickets are $20-$25.

To learn more about "Our Ruined House," visit petensemble.org/our-ruined-house.



By Janae Easlon
Features Editor
Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
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