Gary Cole presents Black Box: Page to Stage

Live Performance is Happening at CoHo. In this our 25th Anniversary Year, CoHo is experimenting with ways to present theatre. On July 24th, join the experience. CoHo Productions Co-founder Gary Cole presents Black Box: Page to Stage” – A virtual limited run in support of Covid-19 arts and culture relief.

Black Box is a lot of fun. Gary D. Cole takes a beloved staple of mystery novels—the hard-nosed, wisecracking gumshoe—and transforms him into Portland’s latest theater critic, devising a local version of Hamlet’s Mousetrap stratagem to nudge a dangerous secret into the open. Along the way, we get to visit some of our favorite watering holes and performing spaces (and enjoy some inside jokes, as well), in a story whose twists and turns keep you guessing until the very end.”

Mead Hunter, Former Literary Director at Portland Center Stage.

As CoHo Productions works to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are experimenting with ways to share theatre with our audiences from a distance. Artists across the board are grappling with this same dilemma, adapting their work for new platforms that allow instant-access, enabling artists to share the spontaneity and immediacy of live performance from the safety of your home.

In response to these new realities, CoHo Productions’ cofounder Gary Cole is bringing a virtual experience to CoHo as a unique fundraising campaign for COVID-19 relief, benefiting area arts and cultural organizations.

About “Page to Stage”

Beginning July 24th, the red carpet will be rolled out for the digital opening of a limited “Page to Stage” run featuring scenes adapted from Black Box, Gary Cole’s debut novel. Black Box revolves around a black box theater very much like CoHo’s home in Northwest Portland. Scenes from the novel will be performed live for socially distanced media representatives and captured on video. Due to the continuing public health restrictions on Portland theaters, there will be no subsequent live performances, but each week of the run will feature an online event, such as the release of a new scene on video, or an interactive “talkback” with the actors, author, and CoHo Producing Artistic Director. The virtual run will continue until Portland theaters have fully reopened and plays can be staged without restrictions. Funds raised from this campaign will go towards direct relief for local arts and cultural organizations through the Oregon Arts and Cultural Recovery Program, established by the Oregon Community Foundation.

Tickets are on sale now through CoHo’s online box office, and will be priced at a suggested donation amount. A patron purchasing a “Box Seat” (suggested donation of $50) will receive a copy of Black Box and invitations to the online talkbacks. Patrons purchasing a “Front & Center Box Seat” (suggested donation of $100) will receive a signed copy of the novel with a custom inscription and a call-in by the author to a book club of the patron’s choice, as well as invitations to the online talkbacks. All ticket prices include shipping and handling fees for the distribution of Black Box.

OF NOTE: Seats purchased as part of “Black Box: Page to Stage” do not include tickets to any future performances at CoHo Theatre. Black Box contains mature content and is intended for adult audiences.

About Black Box

Set largely in Portland, Black Box is a suspenseful story of players, on stage and off, making deals to save or sell their souls. Several actresses, a critic, and a patron form a set of dramatic triangles as their ambitions collide within the confines of a black box theater. The scenes that will be performed during the run portray the increasingly intimate relationship between Karin, an actress turned socialite who decides to make a return to the stage, and the younger Ned, a privileged writer who is forced to take a job as a theater critic after the mysterious death of his father. The role of Ned will be played by James Luster, and Karin by Marcella Laasch. Videography by Robert Randall.

About the Cast

James Luster as Ned

James Luster is thrilled to be working with CoHo for the first time with such a unique and worthwhile endeavor. You may have seen him in Portland-based productions with Bag&Baggage in A Clockwork Orange and The Measure of Innocence; Theatre Vertigo in Carnivora; Oregon Children’s Theater in The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane; Portland Actor Ensemble’s Macbeth; Experience Theater Project’s The Mousetrap and many shows at Action/Adventure Theater, with which he was a producing and performing company member. Thanks to all the gracious people who have once, and still do, support him, especially his wonderful partner Holly and endlessly supportive parents, Carol, Bogdan and Bobby.

Marcella Laasch as Karin

Marcella Laasch was born and grown in Portland, where she began her acting career on the stage performing throughout the Northwest.  Her most memorable stage productions are Murder at Green Meadows, Noises Off, and The Games Afoot.  She briefly relocated to LA where she landed lead roles in several independent feature films, which include The Kids Who Saved Summer and Mega Scorpions.  Back in the Northwest, she continues to pursue stage, film, and television. More recent projects have been Underserved, Grimm, Portlandia, and Z Nation. She appreciates the opportunity to perform in the Page to Stage fundraiser.

About the Author

Black Box author Gary Cole

Black Box author Gary Cole also wrote the first play produced by CoHo back in 1995. The company is marking its 25th anniversary this year. Cole, now a resident of Chapel Hill, NC, has agreed to donate 500 copies of the novel in support of this campaign and to provide additional copies at cost, if needed.

“We are delighted to collaborate with Gary on this innovative campaign raising desperately needed funds to relieve the devastation of COVID-19 on arts and culture in our region. While we know it’s only a limited run, we are also thrilled to have performers back in the CoHo Theatre and to be able to offer those performances to an online audience.”

Philip Cuomo, CoHo’s Producing Artistic Director

75 percent of campaign proceeds will be donated to the Oregon Arts and Culture Recovery Program established by the Oregon Community Foundation. The remaining proceeds will be retained by CoHo, to cover the substantial operating losses incurred during the closure, and cancellation of numerous performances.

Tickets are on sale now and available from the CoHo Box Office. CLICK HERE to reserve your seat!

About the Oregon Arts & Culture Recovery Program

Supported by the Oregon Community Foundation, the Oregon Arts and Culture Recovery Program will provide flexible resources from a cohort of participating funders to support the arts and culture community who have been adversely impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19.

This program supports the adaptive capacity of both arts organizations and arts funders. Nonprofit organizations can submit a single application, which will reach numerous participating foundations, public agencies, and individuals. 

Generous community partners are supporting this program. Partners supporting this effort currently include: The Collins Foundation, James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Oregon Community Foundation, Regional Arts & Culture Council, Oregon Cultural Trust, Oregon Arts Commission, The Reser Family Foundation and Schnitzer CARE Foundation / Jordan Schnitzer.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder’s website.

Don’t Stop Here

More To Explore

CoHo Blog: The Way You Made Me

An Interview with the Creative Team Coming up next at CoHo is The Way You Made Me, a one-woman show by local Portland Playwright, Lindsay

CoHo Residency: (un)tangled

Our final featured resident is Claire Rigsby, a performance artist who specializes in devised theatre and solo work. Claire is a performer, mover, maker, and

Subscribe to the Newsletter

For all the latest news
from CoHo Productions


Thank You

The Form submitted Successfully