• Left Hand Of Darkness Onstage

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Ursula K. Le Guin’s gender defying groundbreaking novel “The Left Hand of Darkness” gets a new original stage adaptation by two of Portland’s more innovative theatres. Portland Playhouse and Hand2Mouth Theatre have been collaborating with esteemed award-winning author Le Guin on this new staging. Dmae Roberts talks with Ursula K. Le Guin, director Jonathan Walters and actors Allison Tigard & Damian Thompson about this new venture with a legendary work. (Airs  5/4 11am on KZME 107.1 FM)


Ursula K. Le Guin at rehearsal. Photo by Brian Weaver, Portland Playhouse’s artistic director.

“The Left Hand of Darkness, ” named the best novel winner of Hugo and Nebula Awards in 1969,  is set in the future on a world called Gethen where there is permanent winter. An envoy named Genly Ai is sent to Gethen to convince its people to join a world collective known as Ekumen.

On Gethen there is no female or male except for once a month for a short time when procreation could take place. Le Guin’s novel brings  up issues of androgyny and the cultural conventions of gender, dominance and sexuality.

The stage adaption was created by H2M’s artistic director Jonathan Walters and UO Theatre Professor John Schmor. The cast includes both Hand2Mouth and Portland Playhouse actors with Damian Thompson taking on the role of Genly Ai. Also in the cast are Lorraine Bahr, Julie Hammond, Liz Hayden and Matthew Dieckman.

Le Guin is a revered  writer in Portland’s artistic community, and this stage adaptation of a beloved book has been eagerly awaited. The production is likely to sell out quickly in the intimate Portland Playhouse Theatre. If there is one theatre event sure to draw discussion for years to come, it’s “The Left Hand Of Darkness.”

Le Guin has been part of the rehearsal process and here is an excerpt of her reaction  written on her blog:


Jonathan Walters and Ursula K. Le Guin at rehearsal.

“Actors are magicians.

All stage people are magicians, the whole crew, on stage and behind it, working the lights and painting the set and all the rest. They collaborate methodically (ritual must be methodical, because it must be complete) in working magic. And they can do it with remarkably unlikely stuff. No cloaks, no magic wands or eyes of newt or bubbling alembics.

Essentially they do it by limiting space, and moving and speaking within that space to establish and maintain a Secondary Creation.”


“The Left Hand Of Darkness” premiere May 2nd  and runs through June 2nd (previews May 2 & 3, opening May 4), Thu – Sun (evenings 7:30 PM, matinees
 2:00 PM).  All shows are at Portland Playhouse located at 602 NE Prescott. For reservations and more info visit: Hand2MouthTheatre.org and PortlandPlayhouse.org.


You can hear Stage & Studio on…


JonathanWalter, AllisonTigard & DamianThompson



MAY 19: Ice Cream Social with Bitch Media, following 2 pm matinee performance, Portland Playhouse

Wherefore newest-wave feminism? Join us for an Ice Cream Social with Bitch Media: Next-Gen Feminist Media in Portland. Sponsored by Ruby Jewel.

MAY 25: Panel Discussion, following 2 pm matinee performance, Portland Playhouse

A World Without Gender: Imagining The Left Hand of Darkness. A scholarly panel discussion on themes and significance of the novel featuring scholars Tony Wolk (English Department, Portland State University) and Ann Mussey (Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Portland State University), and Brian Weaver (Artistic Director, Portland Playhouse). Moderated by Ruth Wikler-Luker (Portland Playhouse).

Details on all this and more at www.portlandplayhouse.org.