• In Good Company

    In the brightly lit black box theater at Mt. Hood Community College, a marriage is failing. Successful fiction writers and husband and wife Michael and Linda Waterman share the pages of their diaries – and their deepest secrets. A woman, Abby, emerges from their past. And the couple struggles to determine what’s manifest and what is fantasy.

    The cast of Fiction
    Cecily Overman as Linda and Mace Archer as Michael.

    The play, Steven Dietz’s Fiction, is a production by the newly formed Summit Theatre Company at MHCC. Summit Theatre was launched this summer by MHCC’s Performing Arts program as a professional-community hybrid theater company serving Multnomah’s East County.

    Summit Theatre’s first production features MHCC Artistic Director Mace Archer, a theater professional of more than 25 years; Cecily Overman, an actress and acting instructor; and Jennifer Kuenzi, a student at MHCC. Matt Pavik (MHCC class of 2008) directs and designed the set, Jade Rabell (MHCC class of 2018) serves as stage manager, and MHCC Instructor of Theatre Design Daryl Harrison-Carson, along with theatre technician students, designed the lighting.

    The goal of Summit Theatre, according to Archer, is to provide a space in East County for productions that blend both professional and community theater elements and connect MHCC students and community members to working professionals.

    “In the five years that I’ve worked at the college, I’ve seen many students develop into fine actors,” says Archer. “But one of the things that can help propel young actors – getting them off the plateaus in their careers – is to work with more seasoned actors.”

    “As soon as young actors get on stage with a more seasoned professional, it elevates their game,” adds Archer. “Like an athlete that has to compete at the next level up.”

    Summit Theatre will blend community with professional theatre by drawing on the region’s professional artists and the immense talent found within East County. The company could serve as a launch pad for artists from local theater companies.

    Portland-based actress Cecily Overman plays Linda Waterman. Overman has been cast in a variety of productions, among them the feature film Everyman’s War, the Investigation Discovery series The Wonderland Murders, and the Oregon Children’s Theatre’s production of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”

    “If I’m not on stage, I’m usually doing some sort of teaching or mentoring,” says Overman. “And the idea of Summit as a place where members of the community can grow, can build upon their skills, aligns with my own belief of theater as an experience, an education, a community, and a place for mentorship.”

    Jennifer Kuenzi, who is studying towards her degree in Theatre Arts at MHCC, plays Abby. She’s performed in other MHCC productions, including Spring Awakening and Urinetown. She says the small production means she gets plenty of training and one-on-one direction, allowing her the chance to continue building upon her skills.

    “I want to be on stage – that’s my goal,” adds Kuenzi. “I love that I’m getting trained here, because theater in Portland is amazing. And one day, I would like to have my own theater company to produce and act in shows.”

    Fiction, given its three acting parts and modest production size, serves as the ideal play with which to launch Summit Theatre, remarks Director Matt Pavik. It’s an “Actors’ play,” with tons of specificity and detail and some intense, beautiful language, written by a playwright from right here in the Pacific Northwest.

    For Pavik, who graduated from MHCC in 2008 with a degree in Theatre Arts, Fiction has allowed him to expand upon his lengthy resume in theatre while also giving him the chance to continue exploring another passion: directing.

    “If I had to choose my favorite type of work within theatre, it’d be directing,” he says. “It lets me have these deep, artistic conversations with experts in their field who are supporting the production, having conversations on everything from fabric weave to dialogue flow.”

    “And that’s really one of my favorite aspects of theatre – the variety of work and the opportunity for everyone to explore something a little different,” Pavik adds.

    Want to learn more about upcoming theater and music performances at MHCC? Visit mhcc.edu/PerformingArtsEvents.

    Director Matt Pavik
    Director Matt Pavik (far right) also designed the set