Nine people stand in line on the stage, hands clasped together and held in the air. The cast of “Fire Season” gives their final bow.

The cast of “Fire Season” gives their final bow. Photo By Evan Tichenor.

By Eva King
Arts and Culture Editor

“Fire Season” is spring term’s Clackamas Community College theater production, and it’s by far one of the most unique I’ve seen. Over the course of winter term 2024, eight students worked together to create stories relating to the theme of fire. Now, in the last half of spring term, the actors are bringing the script to life.

I had the opportunity to see the play for myself, and the actors really set the stage ablaze. The story follows an assortment of people, ranging from young to old, but they all share one thing in common. All of them were affected by various wildfires in the Oregon area.

Their stories are told in short vignettes, where we see the struggles they face and the way the fires affect their lives, both metaphorical and literal.

Jessie Jo Guttridge wrote four of these vignettes, under the title “Oregon Ouroboros.” Each of them reflect a different wildfire that happened in the Oregon area over the years of 1902, 2014, 2020, and 2022. She also wrote “Paper Stars,” which serves as an epilogue for the entire play.

Other vignettes include “Untitled” by Aidan Colvin, “Mind Inferno” by Daniel Edgren, “Spewing Fire” by Alyssa Colvin, “Flint and Stone” by Michael Meyers, “Flaming Memory” by Carina Cooper, and “Meeting Constituents” by Miranda James.

McKeon Sharp looks up in fear during “You Can’t Con a Fire.” They hold a rolled up sheet of memory foam in their hands, while a black backpack is tucked close to them.

McKeon Sharp looks up in fear during “You Can’t Con a Fire.” Photo By Evan Tichenor.

The production values put into this show was really the highlight for me. The writers took a lot of care for the topics they included in their writing. I attended a dress rehearsal of the performance, so there was a bit of nerves and laughter from the actors, but other than that, their delivery was good.

Carly Miller stands center stage during “Oregon Ouroboros 1902.”

Carly Miller stands center stage during “Oregon Ouroboros 1902.” Photo By Evan Tichenor.

Keona Gates and Jorge Apodaca stand center stage during “Oregon Ouroboros 2014.”

Keona Gates and Jorge Apodaca stand center stage during “Oregon Ouroboros 2014.” Photo By Evan Tichenor.

Orion Moss connects with McKeon Sharp.

Orion Moss connects with McKeon Sharp. Photo By Evan Tichenor.

I had an opportunity to speak to script writer and actor Orion Moss about his roles. “It was honestly helpful to be part of both because I got more of an insight into the script than a lot of people did,” Moss said when asked about what it was like working on the script while also acting in the play. “It was a collaborative process that we did in our class of taking different drafts of the script in, having them read, and giving each other critiques. I was able to see the evolution of a lot of these pieces that were put on stage from the beginning which was pretty cool.”

Moss’s vignette, “You Can’t Con a Fire,” was one of my favorites. It involved two men and their conflict with each other as they try to survive in a fiery post-apocalyptic forest. “I wanted to write a story about post-apocalypse and make it fun, make two dudes fight each other, so that’s what I did.”

McKeon Sharp in “You Can’t Con a Fire.”

McKeon Sharp in “You Can’t Con a Fire.” Photo By Evan Tichenor

From a technical standpoint, I thought the presentation was beautiful. The set was impressive, replicating a forest landscape complete with large realistic trees framing center stage. The lighting was simplistic and natural, but worked in unison with the actors’ emotions to fully express what was happening on stage.

The narrative was hard to follow at times and left me feeling confused. The vignettes end and begin abruptly, and there’s no distinction between them. As an audience member, this felt jarring. Regardless of this, I think that the overarching message is something that everyone should be aware of.

Carly Miller stands on stage right during “Oregon Ouroboros 2020.”

Carly Miller stands on stage right during “Oregon Ouroboros 2020.” Photo By Evan Tichenor.

Elliot Prince, Michelle Franklin, Jorge Apoda, Tegan Richards, and Orion Moss imitate fire.

Elliot Prince, Michelle Franklin, Jorge Apoda, Tegan Richards, and Orion Moss imitate fire. Photo By Evan Tichenor.

McKeon Sharp sits center stage in “Paper Stars.”

McKeon Sharp sits center stage in “Paper Stars.” Photo By Evan Tichenor.

Wildfires seem to be more and more common in Oregon, which is something this play represents with its more educational vignettes like “Meeting Constituents.” Because of its important environmental message about wildfire management and climate change, multiple high schools and middle schools from the area are coming to CCC to see it.

Sue Mach, instructor for the class in which the script was written, had some valuable insight in her dramaturg’s notes. “In addition to experiencing the literal fires of the last few years, many of our students have faced metaphorical burns that are personal, having to do with lost friendships, taking care of aging parents, and confronting sexual assault to name a few,” she wrote.

Michelle Franklin and Orion Moss in “Meeting Constituents.”

Michelle Franklin and Orion Moss in “Meeting Constituents.” Photo By Evan Tichenor.

“Fire Season” plays through June 2. For showtimes and more information, click HERE

Eva King

Eva King is an editor and writer for The Clackamas Print. In her free time, she plays video games and enjoys theater.

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