For two weeks every summer, Portland Center Stage bursts at the seams with new play energy.  JAW (short for Just Add Water) fills the Armory with playwrights, actors, directors, dramaturgs, stage managers, production assistants, and sometimes even dogs and babies. Rehearsals fill up every nook and cranny of the building while the copy machine whirs day and night, with new pages and fresh scripts churning back into the rehearsal rooms. The two-week blur of activity ends with staged readings that are free and open to the public, and a smorgasbord of performances throughout the Armory from local theater and arts ensembles.

Since launching in 1999, JAW's principal focus continues to be the playwright and the creative process.   Four Playwrights chosen from nearly 200 submissions nationwide collaborate with directors, dramaturgs, actors, and other theater professionals from across the U.S. to read, revise, and sometimes completely re-write their scripts, discovering through the process what does or does not work in the transition from page to stage. Joining them are Promising Playwrights,  high school students selected from PCS’s Visions & Voices program, who write and develop their own short plays, working alongside the professionals. All of the playwrights’ works are then presented in staged readings for the public.



The 2015 festival begins on July 13 with the public readings July 23-25.

Dates are subject to change


As always, JAW is FREE and open to the public.



script submission

Scripts for consideration at JAW are submitted from literary managers, dramaturgs, playwrights’ centers, and directly from playwrights. The selection process is “blind,” meaning that the reading committee – made up of PCS staff members and Portland-based theater artists – reads each script without the knowledge of title or playwright. Only when the final plays are selected by the committee do they learn who the author is and the actual title of the play.

We are no longer accepting submissions for our 2015 JAW Festival. 

press play

Dynamic performance pieces hand-selected for JAW will animate the building and engage audience members before every reading. Dancers, puppeteers and musicians will pop up throughout the building before and after readings.


Wes Guy & the Road Trip Massacre Crew, 2013 JAW



Polaris Dance Theatre, 2013 JAW

Venerable Showers of Beauty Gamelan, 2013 JAW


community artist labs

Artists from across the nation will conduct labs for our local community. Admission is FREE, but in order to maintain a high level of quality, attendance for each lab is limited and determined by random lottery. 


promising playwrights

The 16th annual JAW: A Playwrights Festival will kick off with staged readings of new scripts from six Portland-area high school playwrights. Come ready to celebrate and socialize.  These Promising Playwrights are selected from our Visions & Voices Playwriting Program, a residency program offered to Portland-area schools.


jaw staff

Just a few of the hardworking folks behind the JAW festival. Contact us at jaw@pcs.org

Rose Riordan - JAW Festival Director

Kelsey Tyler - JAW Festival Producer

Brandon Woolley - JAW Festival  Assistant Director

Don Kenneth Mason - JAW Festival Company Manager

Paul J. Susi - Education & Community Outreach Coordinator


accessibility info

PCS is committed to making our performances and facilities accessible to all of our patrons. 
For more information, visit pcs.org/access


JAW is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust: Oregonians sustaining, developing and participating in our arts, heritage and humanities. Additional support is provided by the Regional Arts & Culture Council/Work for Art and the Oregon Arts Commision.

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