PHAME Wins PAMTA Award for Outstanding Diversity in Portland Theatre Community

This week, PHAME received a Founder's Award from the board of the Portland Area Musical Theatre Awards for outstanding commitment to diversity in theatre, recognizing especially our inclusive world premiere production of the commissioned new play with music "Up The Fall" by Debbie Lamedman, with music by Laura Gibson.

The award, presented by legendary Portland actor and Tony Award winning Broadway producer Corey Brunish, was "a tear-jerker moment" and a highlight of the Monday, June 6, award ceremony and show at the Portland'5 Centers for the Performing Arts Winningstad Theatre. PHAME was represented in receiving the award by actors Kaydie Cebula, Eliza Jensen, Clara Hiller, and PHAME Executive Director Stephen Marc Beaudoin.

In her acceptance speech for the award, actress Eliza Jensen, who played Diana in the production and studies at PHAME, said this:

"First of all, thank you so much for recognizing PHAME and 'Up The Fall' for a PAMTA award. It is a true honor.

'Up the Fall' was a wonderful experience for everyone involved. One of growth, learning, and change. 'Up the Fall' was one of the best experiences of my life and the relationships I formed with the guest actors were very meaningful. We learned so much from each other, but most of all, had tons of fun.

What struck me the most was the level of compassion and understanding. We all became very friendly, and somehow our disabilities disappeared, like magic. I remember in past productions, I have felt frustrated being the only person with a disability. I didn't have to worry about that in 'Up the Fall,' and that in and of itself was so freeing. I did not have to be self conscious and I could simply work on my performance.

There is still work to be done, concerning the arts and inclusion, but 'Up the Fall' was a very successful step. The more we can have these types of collaborations, a person's disability will soon be a non-issue, and we can begin to see artists working together."

Jensen's comments earned the only standing ovation of the evening.

PHAME sends special thanks to playwright Debbie Lamedman, composer Laura Gibson, dramaturg Jessica Dart, composer Matthew Gailey, director Matthew B. Zrebski, all our friends at Artists Repertory Theatre, and underwriting sponsors Ronni Lacroute, the Fred Fields Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation, the Jackson Foundation, Oregon Cultural Trust, Multnomah County Cultural Coalition, and the Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation for all the support that brought this game changing new work to life. Special thank you to Corey Brunish and the board of PAMTA for this recognition of PHAME's work and community impact!

Anya Roberts