By Bob Hicks
Lee Blessing stopped by his old college stomping grounds Monday night, packing a big dog’s bark and a puppy’s eagerness to please.
Blessing, the author of such frequently produced plays as Independence, A Walk in the Woods, Eleemosynary and Fortinbras, sat alone on Reed College’s Mainstage, a couple of bottled waters propped on a stool next to him, as he read his 1999 one-actor comedy Chesapeake to a crowd of theater regulars, Reedies, and a few old friends.
Besides being a homecoming of sorts — Blessing is a 1971 grad from Reed, where he directed and was directed by another high-profile theater alum, Eric Overmyer — the reading was one of the opening events of Wordstock, Portland’s annual orgy of bookiness. And it was a highlight of Profile Theatre‘s season-long look at Blessing’s plays, which has just kicked off with the West Coast premiere of Great Falls. All in all it was a convivial, low-key evening, capped by Mead Hunter‘s warm and smart onstage chat with Blessing after the show.
Chesapeake is the unlikely tale of a New York performance artist named Kerr (he’s best-known for a piece in which he recites The Song of Solomon as members of the audience strip him naked, one piece of clothing at a time) who becomes a pawn in the right-wing war against the National Endowment for the Arts (remember, the year is 1999).