Playwrights West

All Originals. All Premieres. All Portland.







Andrew Wardenaar has been a member of Playwrights West since February, 2011.  The world premiere of The Sweatermakers marks his first full-length production.  The play has been previously recognized by the Portland Civic Theatre Guild, as winner of their playwriting contest in 2012, and was subsequently presented as a staged reading during the 2013 Fertile Ground Festival.  Another of Andrew's plays, Live, from Douglas, was featured in a workshop by Portland Theatre Works in 2007.  Other plays include: Spokes, The Next Smith, Anachronous, Tower's Down, and Good One, God.  Andrew is also a director, and recently graduated from University of Portland's MFA directing program.


Matt is a multi-award winning playwright, composer, script consultant, teaching artist, and producer-director whose career has been defined by new play development. He has served as the Artistic Director for Youth Could Know Theatre, Theatre Atlantis, and Stark Raving Theatre - all companies specializing in new work - and since 1995, has mounted over 40 world premieres. Notable productions include Joseph Fisher’s plays Prometheus Bound, Cupid & Psyche, Faust. Us., and Tundra (Kennedy Center Fund For New American Plays Recipient) as well as the recent The American Pilot, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and The Giver.  In addition to directing, Matt has had many of his own plays and musicals produced, including the planet ME, Neck, A Place Called Timothy, Hunger, Parts, After the Zipper, Darkstep and Dawning, The Vespiary, Hunter in the Corner, The Aquavarian, Handprint Alley, Rubber 'n' Glue, Sharp Ecstasy, To Cape, and Ablaze: an a cappella musical thriller. Through the Education Theatre Program at Oregon Children’s Theatre, he was awarded back-to-back commissions to pen both Texting the Sun and 1 ½.  The former toured off and on through 2013 and was seen by nearly 60,000 students.  The latter toured through 2011 and was featured in the One Theatre World Conference.  He has also been featured multiple times in JAW: A Playwrights Festival, most recently with his commissioned short plays, Big Sis and Glow.  In addition to his work in professional theatre, Matt is a passionate advocate for arts education, spending half his time as a guest instructor in public schools.  As the Resident Teaching Artist at Portland Center Stage, he teaches playwriting through Visions and Voices. He also teaches through the Literary Arts Writers in the Schools (WITS) program and is on staff for the Acting Academy at Oregon Children’s Theatre where he teaches acting and directing.  In 2005, he founded the Annual New Works Festival at Lincoln High School, which was featured in the 2011 Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.   He holds a BFA in Theatre from the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University and is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America.











Jen is delighted to bring The Sweatermakers to life and to be part of bringing new work to Portland stages through Playwrights WestOther acting credits include Speech and Debate, Distracted (Artists Repertory Theater) Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Twelfth Night, A Christmas Carol, After the Revolution (Portland Playhouse) Mai Dang Lao, The Royal Society of Antarctica (JAW festival, Portland Center Stage) The Big Combo (Sketch Show) and roles with Willamette Shakespeare, Profile Theater, Miracle Theater, Oregon Children's Theater, Our Shoes Are Red/The Performance Lab, Livewire Radio and NBC's Grimm. She also directs for the company she founded in 2010: The Quick and Dirty Art Project. Be sure to catch Jen in both the return of A Christmas Carol and Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play at Portland Playhouse next season. 


JR is delighted to be working with Playwrights West and with Matt, both for the very first time! He also feels privileged to be working with such a talented cast and design team on Andrew’s wonderful new script. JR has been seen in lots of shows, including Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, with Action/Adventure, boom and Cloud 9 with Theatre Vertigo, The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek with defunkt theatre, and Honus and Me: A Baseball Card Adventure with Oregon Children’s Theatre. Through the support of so many wonderful folks, JR recently had the distinct pleasure of shooting a short film with his wonderfully talented friend, Caitlyn. More information about JR can be found on his website.  Including information about how much he enjoys chocolate chip cookies.


Ben Buckley was proud to read The Sweatermakers last year as part of The Fertile Ground Festival . In the same festival this year he was seen in Bon Ton Roulet at the Shakespeare Cafe. His Portland credits include productions at PCS, Artists Rep, Broadway Rose, Lakewood Theater Company, and Oregon Children’s Theatre.  He trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Thanks to Matt Z for inspiration and motivation.


Sharon is happy to mark this as her first production with Playwrights West. Some of Sharon’s other credits include: Persuasion (Quintessence); Tough Titty (PassinArt); Hot ‘N’ Throbbing (Arts Equity); The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (OCT); The Diary of Anne Frank (NW Children’s Theatre); The Secret Garden (STAGED); Laramie Project (ART); and Soldiers Heart (Well Arts). She would like to thank her family for always supporting her and Matt for letting her be a part of this production.



LUKE BURTON, Assistant Stage Manager

ASHTON GRACE HULL, Costume Designer

EM GUSTASON, Sound Designer

TAL SANDERS, Scenic & Properties Designer

J.D. SANDIFER, Lighting Designer

JEFF KURIHARA, Marketing Graphics Design

ASHLEE WALDBAUER, DIrecting Teen Apprentice


Nicole is delighted to be returning to work with Playwrights West for the third summer in a row. Favorite past shows at the CoHo Theatre include Faust. Us., The Mark, (Stark Raving Theatre), Hamlet (CoHo/Chris Murray), Kid Simple: a radio play in the flesh (CoHo/call in sick productions), and The Centering. New plays have a special place in her heart, and she is inspired by the dedication and commitment of everyone in this amazing cast and crew in telling Andrew’s story, and can't remember when she last laughed so much in a rehearsal room. These people are delightful. Nicole is the proud three-time recipient of Portland's Spotlight Award for Stage Management.

LUKE BURTON, Assistant Stage Manager

This is Luke's second summer as Assistant Stage Manager for Playwrights West and would like to thank his family for supporting his dreams, Nicole Gladwin for being a superb management mentor, and finally he would like to thank Matt Zrebski for all his wisdom and guidance.

TAL SANDERS, Scenic and Properties Design

Tal Sanders holds an M.F.A. in Design from California Institute of the Arts. An Assistant Professor of Theatre, he serves as Faculty Scenic and Lighting Designer as well as Technical Director for Theatre & Dance at Pacific University. Previously Tal served on faculty at Santa Barbara City College, Marymount Manhattan College, Loyola Marymount, and U.C. Santa Barbara.  An acclaimed designer with numerous national credits, his work has been awarded The Independent Theatre Award, The Garland, and The Drammy. He is a proud member of the United Scenic Artists, and has designed lighting and scenery for many aspects of entertainment including: theatre, film, television, theme parks, mall décor, and zoos. For Playwrights West, he has previously designed scenery and props for the productions of Continuum and Licking Batteries.

J.D. SANDIFER, Lighting Design

J.D. has lived in the Portland, OR area for the last six years and has worked as a professional lighting designer the entire time. Some past productions include The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Oregon Children's Theatre), The American Pilot (Theatre Vertigo), Continuum (Playwrights West & CoHo Productions), 13 (Staged!), and Ablaze: an a cappella musical thriller (amateur premiere). Outside theatre, J.D.'s interests include parkour, sailing, volunteering as a sound engineer at his church, and spending time with his wife and six month old son. He holds a BFA in Theatre from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Ashton grew up in Seattle, Washington and developed an early love of storytelling through the Seattle Children's Theatre. Ashton combined her interest for visual arts and theatre in costume design, graduating in 2007 with her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University.  After a stop in Los Angeles working on television series and feature film productions, she returned to the Northwest and collaborates with many local companies. 

EM GUSTASON, Sound Design

Em Gustason is a Portland based sound designer who is proud to be working again with Playwright's West after last season's Licking Batteries and 2012's Continuum.  A graduate of The Evergreen State College, his favorite recent designs include The Giver (Oregon Children's Theatre), Gidion's Knot (Third Rail Productions), and Ablaze: an a cappella musical thriller (Staged!). Additionally, he is the recipient of a 2012 Drammy Award for Outstanding Sound Design for his work on The American Pilot (Theatre Vertigo). Many thanks to this team of designers, Nicole, Matt, and Andrew, for bringing this piece to life.

JEFF KURIHARA, Marketing Graphics Design

Received his MFA in Theater Design from The University of Texas at Austin in Spring 2013, focusing in Integrated Media for Live Performance. He is currently based out of Austin, Texas designing video projections for theater, dance, installations, and live events.

ASHLEE WALDBAUER, Directing Teen Apprentice

Ashlee is thrilled to be working alongside such an amazing production team and cast! She has stage credits with Oregon Children's Theatre (The Magic Tree House) and Staged! (Ablaze: an a cappella musical thriller). Ashlee would like to thank Matt for this amazing opportunity to be mentored both as a director and a performer.