Portland Center Stage: Bringing Stories to Life


Over the years, Portland has established itself as a city with a rich creative culture. It’s also a city with many historical sites and landmarks. Portland Center Stage combines the creative and historical spirit of the city by bringing stories to life in one of Portland’s many iconic buildings.

Built in 1891, the Portland Armory was reborn as the Gerding Theater at The Armory in 2006. In 2002, the foundation for what would become Portland Center Stage was established. The Portland Armory Annex was the last piece in the Brewery Blocks development. In recent years The Armory has earned a reputation as the “crown jewel” of the Brewery Blocks.

Portland Center Stage has earned many accolades since its inception. Forbes magazine has coined PCS as one of the greenest buildings in America. The American Council of Engineering Companies Oregon awarded PCS their Grand Award for Engineering Excellence. The Armory is also the first historical renovation of a performing arts venue in the world to achieve a Platinum LEED certification. Groups of people from around the world visit PCS to observe its sustainable design.

Portland Center Stage at The Armory (PCS) is the largest producing theater in Portland, and is among the top 20 professional regional theaters in America. PCS was founded as an off-shoot of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1988. It became an independent theater in 1994 and has been under the leadership of Artistic Director Chris Coleman since May, 2000.

The theater stages 11 major productions annually in two theaters located inside The Armory: the 590-seat U.S. Bank Main Stage and the 190-seat Ellyn Bye Studio. PCS hosts a mix of classical, contemporary and premiere works in addition to their annual summer playwrights festival, JAW. PCS has more than 9,000 season ticket holders and draws an annual audience of nearly 150,000 theater-goers of all ages.

Portland Center Stage is currently hosting a musical biography of vaudeville legend Ethel Waters. His Eye is on the Sparrow, directed by Timothy Douglas, tells the story of Water’s struggle in Jim Crow America to become a successful vaudeville star. The show features many of Ethel Water’s classic hits including, “Stormy Weather,” “This Joint is Jumpin'” and “Am I Blue?”

If you’d like to support or volunteer at Portland Center Stage contact them here.

This week at Portland Radio Project we feature Portland Center Stage as part of our award-winning Community Voices series. Monday through Thursday at 9:40 a.m. you can hear live on 99.1 FM interviews with key members of the organization:

Brandon Woolley, PCS Producing Associate

Ted Austin, PCS Board Chair

Clara-Liis Hillier, PCS Education & Community Programs Associate

Rachel Schmerge, Prop Artist

Tim Billado
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