By Bob Hicks
It’s astounding to remember, but there was a time not too many years ago when seeing almost any sort of theater in Portland was a west-side-only affair.
Mr. Scatter recalls an east side cabaret space on Northeast Broadway between 14th and 15th, on the block where Peet’s Coffee is, and another cabaret on lower Hawthorne, around 20th, where people like Bonnie Raitt and the Flying Karamazov Brothers used to perform before they got famous. The old Sylvia’s Italian Restaurant on Northeast Sandy had a popular dinner theater operation for a while, and of course the legendary Storefront Theatre got its start in a little hole in the wall on North Russell. Maybe we’re missing something, but not much.
With the likes of Profile, Milagro, Portland Playhouse, Defunkt, Portland Story Theatre and a lot of others setting up on the east side, that’s deep history now. As big slices of the restaurant scene and even the gallery scene have crossed the bridges to the east in the past few years, so has a significant chunk of the city’s performance scene, and for some of the same reasons: cheaper overhead and proximity to audiences. Turns out, quite a few west siders don’t mind venturing across the river, and lots of east siders like not having to go downtown to see a show.
Now Triangle Productions, which has performed all over town since it began in 1989 and was an original partner in the Theater! Theatre! complex on Southeast Belmont, has a new home on East Burnside Street. Called the Sanctuary, it’s in an old commercial building called Sandy Plaza at 1785 N.E. Sandy Boulevard. We haven’t been inside the building, but Triangle producer Don Horn calls it a padded pew-style theater with seating for 100 to 200, a good capacity for intimate theater.
And tonight the Sanctuary gets an audience for the first time. Appropriately, the show is the Northwest premiere of Ken Davenport‘s small Off-Broadway show My First Time, about lots of people’s memories of their introduction to what used to be called carnal knowledge. Davenport also was producer of the hit comedy Altar Boyz.
Showtimes are 7:30 Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through March 27. However it turns out, Portland’s east side has a new theater space. And sometimes the first time’s the charm.