By Nina Raine
Directed By Dámaso Rodríguez

February 3, 2015 – March 8, 2015

Alder Stage

A scintillating contemporary drama centered around Billy, the only deaf member of his family, whose search for family acceptance as he delves into the Deaf Community sparks often funny but fierce tensions at home. Grappling with the significance of language and the urge to belong, this Portland debut follows triumphant productions Off-Broadway, at London’s Royal Court and Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre. 2012 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play.

  • Designs by Resident Artists Kristeen Willis Crosser & Sharath Patel 
  • Portland Premiere

RUNNING TIME: Approximately 2 hours & 10 minutes including one intermission.
RECOMMENDATIONS: For adults and older teens. Profanity.


Linda Alper +^


Amy Newman +^


Michael Mendelson +*^


Stephen Drabicki +


Kayla Lian ±


+ Member of Actors Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the U.S.

* Member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society

± Equity Membership Candidate

^ Artists Rep Resident Artist


Dámaso Rodríguez *


Scenic Designer: Tal Sanders #

Lighting Designer: Kristeen Willis Crosser #

Composer/Sound Designer: Sharath Patel ^

Voice & Text Director: Mary McDonald-Lewis ^

Props Designer: Natalie Rae Heikkinen

Production Stage Manager: Michelle Jazuk +^

Assistant Director: Jessica Evans Irvine

Assistant Director: Val Landrum +^

Production Assistant: Jory Bowers +

ASL Dialogue Coach: Justin Coleman

ASL Dialogue Coach/ASL Interpreter: Dot Hearn

ASL Interpreter: Richard Hall

+ Member of Actors Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the U.S.

* Member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society

# The scenic, costume, lighting, projection & sound designers are represented by United Scenic Artists

^ Artists Rep Resident Artist


…”pitch-perfect acting and a fascinating challenge.” - Ramona DeNies, Portland Monthly


“…well-honed performances by the cast and lovely multimedia touches and flourishes to underscore for the hearing in visuals that are akin to the deaf experience." - Faddah Wolf, Portland Stage Reviews


"Tribes" shows us how the theater can transcend words and enlarge our understanding." - The Oregonian


“…a drama of kindness versus cruelty, self-delusion, and struggles to understand and be understood…”

 - John Rudoff, Oregon Music News


“So poignant and beautifully done!” - Audience Member


"The acting company performs with great depth and skill, and it is wonderfully complemented by creative use of the production's design elements ... [Stephen] Drabicki's Billy may represent the heart of the production, but the other actors all offer profoundly penetrating performances." - The Oregonian


“So visually stimulating – beautifully done!” - Audience Member


"Tribes will speak to anyone who's ever belonged to a family, be it a family of blood relatives, close friends, or comrades in arms." - Broadway World


“I can’t remember feeling so touched by a play!” - Audience Member  



"…bright and boldly provocative drama." —Associated Press.


"The best-written, best-plotted, deepest, most daring, and funniest, new play in recent years."
– Wall Street Journal

"Nina Raine's socially-charged, densely-layered and devastatingly on-point drama ... Tribes takes a highly visible issue and probes beneath the surface, asking hard questions and leaving the audience with much to ponder." - Broadway World 

"A smart, lively, and beautifully acted new play that asks us to hear how we hear, in silence as well as in speech…I’ve rarely encountered a cast that finds as many far-reaching shades of meaning in tones of voice as this one does. Every member of the ensemble is spot-on.” -  The New York Times

“Tribes Buzzes, Dizzies, and Dazzles…a vivid exploration of how language molds lives, shapes perceptions and determines where we belong” Chicago Magazine

“An especially stimulating, smart and important play” Chicago Tribune

"Tribes made me excited about New York theatre again; I haven't been this knocked out by a play in a long time." —


Tribes first premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in London on October 14, 2010, where it was nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Play. The show then premiered in New York Off-Broadway in March of 2012 at the Barrow Street Theatre. The production was directed by David Cromer and featured performances by Will Brill, Russell Harvard, Susan Pourfar, Gayle Rankin, Jeff Perry and Mare Winningham. In 2012, Tribes swept up several awards and nominations including the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award and the Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best Play. David Cromer again directed Tribes in March 2013 at Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and then again at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego later that year. In the last couple of years, Tribes has been produced at numerous regional theatres including Steppenwolf Theatre, Guthrie Theatre, and most recently, Berkeley Repertory Theatre.


After graduating from Oxford, Nina Raine began her career as a trainee director at the Royal Court Theatre. She dramaturged and directed Unprotected at the Liverpool Everyman, scooping up the TMA Best Director Award and the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award in the process. Her debut play, Rabbit, premiered at The Old Red Lion Theatre in 2006 and, after a sell-out run, it transferred to the West End before heading New York. Rabbit won London’s Evening Standard Award 2006 for Most Promising Playwright and the Critics Circle Award 2006 for Most Promising Playwright.  Her second play, Tiger Country was shortlisted for the Sphinx Theatre Brave New Roles Award, and is under commission to the Royal Court Theatre. She also directed Jumpy at the Royal Court Theatre and Shades, for which she won Critics Circle and Evening Standard Awards for Most Promising Newcomer. 


Dámaso Rodríguez is in his second year as Artistic Director of Artists Rep. He is a Co-Founder of the Los Angeles-based Furious Theatre Company, where he served as Co-Artistic Director from 2001-2012. From 2007-2010 he served as Associate Artistic Director of the Pasadena Playhouse. His directing credits include work at Artists Rep, the Pasadena Playhouse, Intiman Theatre, South Coast Repertory, Laguna Playhouse, A Noise Within, The Theatre@Boston Court, Naked Angels and Furious Theatre. Dámaso is a recipient of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, the Back Stage Garland Award, the NAACP Theatre Award, and the Pasadena Arts Council’s Gold Crown Award, and his productions have been nominated for multiple LA Weekly Theatre Awards and LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards. In 2012, he was honored by the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation as a Finalist for the Zelda Fichandler Award. He is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC). Recent productions include the U.S. Premiere of Dawn King’s Foxfinder and the West Coast premieres of Dan LeFranc’s The Big Meal and Jeffrey Hatcher’s Ten Chimneys at Artists Rep; Ruth & Augustus Goetz' The Heiress (starring Richard Chamberlain), Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes (starring Kelly McGillis) and Austin Pendleton’s Orson’s Shadow (starring Sharon Lawrence) at the Pasadena Playhouse; the reading of Steven Drukman’s The Prince of Atlantis for the Pacific Playwrights Festival at South Coast Repertory, Clifford Odets’ Paradise Lost at Intiman Theatre; Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, Tennessee Williams’ The Eccentricities of a Nightingale, Eugene O'Neill's Desire Under the Elms, Bernard Shaw’s The Doctor’s Dilemma at A Noise Within. Furious Theatre credits include the Los Angeles premieres of Craig Wright'sGrace, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s Boom and Hunter Gatherers, Bruce Norris’ The Pain and the Itch, Yussef El Guindi's Back of the Throat, Richard Bean’s The God Botherers, Neil LaBute's The Shape of Things, and the world premieres of Alex Jones’ Canned Peaches in Syrup and Matt Pelfrey’s An Impending Rupture of the Belly and No Good Deed, among others. More information at



For your listening's a podcast link to a wonderful interview with Dámaso Rodríguez and Stephen Drabicki about "Tribes." This interview by Sarika Mehta aired this morning on KBOO's Stage and Studio.


Click here to read "Why I Wrote Tribes" by Nina Raine.


Click here to check out the production's playbill.  


If you want to know exactly what you are in for and really dig into the play, click here for a FULL SYNOPSIS but beware of major SPOILERS! 


A great resource for all but beware of SPOILERS!! Download it here.


Although Stephen makes his Portland debut with Artist Rep’s production of Tribes, it is the third time he has played the role of Billy. We recently asked him about his own evolution with the character, his journey with Nina Raine’s portrayal of this family and the Deaf Culture. Click here to read that interview.