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.

Cast and Production Team


Linda Alper +^


Amy Newman +^


Michael Mendelson +*^


Stephen Drabicki +


Kayla Lian ±



Dámaso Rodríguez *



Scenic Designer: Tal Sanders #

Lighting Designer: Kristeen Willis #

Composer/Sound Designer: Sharath Patel #^

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

± Equity Membership Candidate

^ Artists Rep Resident Artist

Production Media




…”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." —



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.