Most of you reading this don’t know me.  Even if you are hardcore followers of the Portland theater community or PAE, my name will not be familiar to you. I love being behind the scenes and making theater happen every summer in Portland and surroundings. I came to PAE as a costume designer and was immediately struck by the commitment of the people who do this work for this quirky company. It didn’t take long to get me on board, on the board, so to speak.

This is not my first rodeo as a theater board member. I discovered my place in the early 80’s in the Bay Area with another quirky and long lived theater company. I auditioned for a chorus role in one of their comic light operas, but was really interested in working on costumes. And work on them I did.  I found phenomenal mentors there and within three years, I no longer had any interest in performing.

I love being behind the scenes.  So, it’s a challenge to put my voice and my face forward in such a public way. But those of you who know me or know of me probably know one thing about me: I am really passionate about what I do.  I am really passionate about PAE’s mission to bring free theater to people in non-traditional settings. I am really passionate about bringing theater to people who might not otherwise see it. I am really passionate about the idea that we create a space, for a few hours, for strangers to share and experience and form a pop-up community. I really passionate about preserving our shared cultural heritage and the idea that the arts add value to peoples lives and help preserve a civil civilization.

I am writing this tonight as Romeo and Juliet performs it’s third performance of it’s second, and very hot weekend. What I am feeling tonight is grateful.

  • I am grateful for our actors who carry out our missions and I still tear up every time I greet them at first reading of a script and thank them.
  • I am grateful for all the other behind the scenes people, like me, who make this happen in a way the audience is never aware of.
  • I am grateful for the partners who work with us, like Metro, Willamette Shakespeare, Foster Grandparents of Multonmah County, the the Multnomah and Regional Arts and Cultural Coalition who believe in and support what we do.
  • I am grateful for our donors, both known and anonymous, who find it worthwhile to support what we bring them.
  • I am grateful for the people who don’t know us, but happen upon us at a performance and are captivated enough to watch the rest of the show.
  • I am grateful for the people who follow us each year (this is our 49th!) and come to opening night and anticipate hearing what we will do each season.
  • I am grateful for the people who hold up their hands when we ask each performance, “Who has never seen live theater before?” or “Who has never seen Shakespeare performed live before?”

And, if you read to the end of this, I am grateful to you.  Please come and see Romeo and Juliet this month. This show is a real treasure and so relevant to our times. Please come and see The Complete Works  and watch us do something we’ve never done before. And if you see me there, say hi.

-Sherry Ostendorf

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