10 tips for this weekend

Three last chances and seven fresh picks to fill your weekend calendar

What’s this? Thursday already? Time to make those weekend plans! ArtsWatch is here to help, with 10 tips for things to get on your calendar, stat. The first three – Staged!’s visceral musical Parade, Baddass Theatre’s gut-punch of a drama Sans Merci, and the Museum of Contemporary Craft’s Fashioning Cascadia – are last calls: catch ’em now, or forever hold your peace.  Also: keep an eye out for Brett Campbell’s ArtsWatch guide to the weekend’s classical music highlights.

"Parade": Jennifer Davies and Andrew Bray as Lucille and Leo Frank. Photo: Russell J. Young

“Parade”: Jennifer Davies and Andrew Bray. Photo: Russell J. Young


Ends Sunday, Oct. 12

Staged! at Brunish Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway

Director Paul Angelo’s lean, sparkling production of Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Uhry’s potent musical is led by Andrew Bray as an out-of-his element New York Jew accused of a heinous crime in 1913 Atlanta, and Jennifer Davies as his Jewish Southern belle wife, who grows remarkably as the action progresses. Based on the infamous Leo Frank murder case, it’s a musical that goes far beyond happy show tunes, and this chamber production is a small gem. Marty Hughley’s preview for ArtsWatch sets the scene.  


LAST CHANCE: “Sans Merci”

Ends Saturday, Oct. 11

Badass Theatre at Portland Actors Conservatory, 1436 SW Montgomery St.

A harrowing knockout of a drama, with superior performances by veteran Luisa Sermol and younger stars Jahnavi Caldwell-Green and Jessica Tidd. Antonio Sonera directs Johnna Adams’ eviscerating examination of young love, parental anguish, and an idealistic adventure gone horrifyingly wrong. Read A.L. Adams’ review for ArtsWatch.


LAST CHANCE: “Fashioning Cascadia”

Ends Saturday, Oct. 11

Museum of Contemporary Craft, 724 NW Davis St.

Subtitled The Social Life of the Garment, the craft museum’s exhibition looks inside the craft and design of the fashion and clothing industry as it’s been expressed in the Pacific Northwest. Hint: It’s not all Gore-Tex and rain gear. The exhibit opened in May. Elsewhere in the museum, Portland Collects: British Ceramics continues through Jan. 3.


“The Turn”

Through Oct. 25

The Reformers at 1126 SE 15th Ave.

Things are gettin’ spooky in the SE PDX house that gave way to the ghoulishness of The Revenants last year. This new adaptation of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, with elements of Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining tossed in, keeps things ghostly and creepy. It is October, after all.


Portland Open Studios

Saturday-Sunday, Oct. 11-12 and 18-19

Working artists’ studios throughout the metro area

Choose your own adventure as you make house calls at as many of the 96 participating artists’ studios as you can fit in. The studios are small, large, and in-between; the artwork ranges from oils and watercolors to sculpture to encaustic to jewelry to multimedia. Each year Open Studios offers a peek behind the curtain to see how visual art gets made, and a chance to meet the artists where they do the work. You can chart your route via phone app or printed map: click the link.


Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre

Saturday, Oct. 11

Old Taylor Electric Supply Building, SE Second Avenue and Clay Street

The Northwest branch of Duckler’s L.A. company, like its southern sister, does site-specific works, and in the case of this new show, Found Underground, it returns to the eastside industrial site of its early-2014 work Ragnarok. The building’s since been condemned, and it has no roof. Who knows what might transpire?


Oregon Ballet Theatre @ 25

Opens Saturday, Oct. 11; through Oct. 18

Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St.

The city’s chief ballet company celebrates the beginning of its 25th season with an all-star reunion: works by former artistic directors James Canfield and Christopher Stowell, former resident choreographer Trey McIntyre, and some fellow named Balanchine – a little dance called Agon. Plus, a world premiere by Nicolo Fonte, with live music by Pink Martini. Be there or be non-spherical.


Pinter’s “The Homecoming”

Opens Friday, Oct. 10; through Nov. 9

Imago Theatre, 17 SE Eighth Ave.

Imago’s Jerry Mouawad, known for his own stretched-reality view of life, has been fascinated with the elliptical works of Harold Pinter lately, directing memorable productions of The Lover and The Caretaker. He follows up with this creepily entertaining family reunion of a play, which burrows deep down into the seedy spaces of the soul. With Anne Sorce, Jeffrey Jason Gilpin, and others.


Ionesco’s “The Lesson”

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 10-11

Readers Theatre Repertory at Blackfish Gallery, 420 NW Ninth Ave.

RTR has carved out its own identity on the city’s theater scene: it performs in an art gallery, concentrates on one-acts, keeps its shows to about an hour long, and generally runs them one weekend only. Portland favorite Todd Van Voris stars in this excursion into absurdity, with Jordin Bradley and Christy Drogosch. Director David Berkson: “Re-reading the play, it hit me how closely Ionesco’s plot follows the scenario of the traditional horror story: a young girl comes to the isolated dwelling of a renowned and seemingly benevolent man of science and reason. But when the mask of civilization is stripped away, fear and insanity rule.”


“In the Forest, She Grew Fangs”

Opens Friday, Oct. 10; through Nov. 15

Defunkt Theatre, 4319 SE Hawthorne Blvd.

Welcome to Halloween season. Defunkt stages the West Coast premiere of Stephen Spotswood’s contemporary riff on Little Red Riding Hood, who “lives with her grandmother in a small rural town that could be Anywhere, USA.” When Lucy heads into the woods, things just get … wild.

18 tips for this weekend and beyond

From the Day of the Dead to passionate pursuits, ArtsWatch picks the coming week's hot sheet

It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall. Don’t worry: it happens every year around this time, and every year Portlanders take refuge by heading inside to the city’s theaters, concert halls and galleries, where they can feed their minds and stay dry at the same time. Things heat up as the temperature cools down, and this week’s calendar’s jumping with new stuff. Since Halloween’s close at hand, a fair amount of it’s a trifle on the … macabre side.

We’ve picked 18 shows for you to check out, including early warning on a slew of promising dance performances opening next week. Make your plans, get your tickets, and don’t get wet.


Milagro’s Day of the Dead play !O Romeo! opens Thursday. Photo: Russell J. Young



!O Romeo! Milagro artistic director Olga Sanchez’ new bilingual play mashes together the traditions of El Dia de Muertos with a bit of the Bard in “a Latino look at Shakespeare’s dead heroes.” Previews Thursday, opens Friday, through Nov. 9.

110 in the Shade. This may be the only spot in town where it really is still hot. Stumptown Stages revives the musical version of The Rainmaker in the Brunish Theatre. Thursday through Nov. 2.

Bob: A Life in Five Acts. Matt Zrebski directs this comedy about a guy born and abandoned in the bathroom of a White Castle burger joint, and his quest to make more of his life. Theatre Vertigo, opens Friday, through Nov. 15.

All Jane, No Dick. Laughter to the gender-specific degree. Once again, Curious Comedy rounds up some of the best woman stand-up comics in the game and turns ’em loose; no guys butting in. Thursday through Monday.

‘Night, Mother. Gavin Hoffman directs Jacklyn Maddux and Dana Millican in Marsha Norman’s 1983 Pulitzer-winning mother/daughter standoff about life and death and the right to just stop going on (sorry, Samuel Beckett). CoHo Theatre, Thursday through Nov. 8.

Dial ‘M’ for Murder. Suddenly we feel a stabbing pain. Bag&Baggage brings back Frederick Knott’s potboiler, the basis for the legendary Hitchcock movie thriller. If you’ve seen it in 3D, you know about the scissors. Previews Wednesday, opens Thursday, through Nov. 2.

Shackleton’s Antarctic Nightmare: The 1914 Voyage of the Endurance. Portland Story Theatre’s Lawrence Howard throws a little ice into the fire, bringing back his spellbinding tale of ambition and disaster for one night only. We wrote about the tale back in January 2012. Alberta Abbey, Saturday.




Michele Russo, The Juggler, 1993, oil on canvas, collection of Arlene and Harold Schnitzer.

In Passionate Pursuit. Portland Art Museum opens its big exhibition drawn from the holdings of the city’s best-known collectors, Arlene and the late Harold Schnitzer. Their tastes were wide and well-informed, and they knew how to buy: for years, Arlene ran the legendary Fountain Gallery. This exhibit is the final show assembled by chief curator Bruce Guenther before his retirement, and should have lots of appeal. Saturday through Jan. 11.

Blue Sky: The Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts at 40. On the same day, the art museum opens this look at the four decades of Blue Sky, the adventurous photo center that’s become a must-stop for serious international photography. Saturday through Jan. 11.

Things That Go Bump in the Night. Meanwhile, on a slightly different plane of existence … Peoples Art of Portland presents a show of 100 local artists doing variations on a creepy theme. Along with prints by the acid rock-ish poster artist Zoltran. Downtown at Pioneer Square, Saturday through Nov. 9.

Allison Bruns Bump

Artist Allison Bruns goes bump in the night. So do 99 others.



OBT@25. Let’s face the music and dance: Oregon Ballet Theatre completes its gala 25th season-opening gala with performances Thursday through Saturday. Martha Ullman West has the lowdown on the program, which opened last weekend. Keller Auditorium.

Michael Clark Company. O glam! O rock! White Bird brings the Brit contemporary dance company for its Portland debut, danced to a soundtrack of Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, David Bowie and others. Thursday through Saturday, Newmark Theatre.

New Now Wow. Northwest Dance Project opens its season with three premieres, by Minh Tran, Yin Yue, and Czech choreographer Jirí Pokorny. It’s giddy times for the contemporary ballet company, which has just announced the site of its new, greatly expanded home, in close-in Northeast PDX at 10th and Davis. Planned move-in is winter 2015. Oct. 23-25, Lincoln Performance Hall, PSU.

Adaptation. A “performance-driven installation” from Studio M13 at Disjecta Contemporary Art, with choreography by Stephanie Lankton and soundscape by Lisa DeGrace. Meshi Chavez and others open. Friday-Saturday and Oct. 24-25.

BloodyVox: Nightmare on Northrup. BodyVox premieres the newest chapter in its series of comic-horror Halloween dance concerts, which are almost always a bloody good time. Oct. 23-Nov. 1

The Word Hand. A promising collaboration among choreographer/dancer Linda Austin and visual artists Linda Hutchins and Pat Boas, who’ll create drawings while Austin dances. These are three genuinely talented artists, and they’ve been working together for a year and a half. Performance Works Northwest, Oct. 23-26.

Like a Sun That Pours Forth Light But Never Warmth. It’s October. You’re expecting 90 degrees? Risk/Reward presents a correspondence across time between choreographer Allie Hankins and the legendary Vaslav Nijinsky. Conduit Dance, Oct. 24-26.

Frida: A Rare Evening of Women in Circus. Pendulum aerial arts flies high with French acrobatic artist Fred Deb’, Paula Kenney, and Laura Stokes of the contemporary circus duo Ricochet. At the Pendulum studio, Oct. 24-26.

The profound ecstasy of a free breath

Artists Rep's taut "Exiles" rides a tense and complex freedom boat out of Castro's Cuba, toward … what?

In the iconography created for us by the advertising industry, America is epitomized by those canonical products of wholesomeness: baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet. Strange, though, that the gods of Madison Avenue, with all their insight into our values and desires, did not think to include Vicks VapoRub.

For one of the characters in the Carlos Lacámara play Exiles, which opened Saturday night at Artists Rep, Vicks is one of those little – we might foolishly say negligible – things that represent a time past, a world changed and a life lost.

Living in Castro’s Cuba, this poor man has spent 20 years suffering the twin repressions of communism and hay fever.

It doesn’t help, of course, that he’s also profoundly mentally ill. So much so that when Exiles opens, he is tied to the railing of the sport-fishing boat where the play’s main action takes place. So much so that the script identifies him only as “the Lunatic.”

Bobby Bermea, taking a seat on the boat toward Vicks: the cogent Lunatic. Photo: Owen Carey

Bobby Bermea, taking a seat on the boat toward Vicks: the cogent Lunatic. Photo: Owen Carey

Nonetheless, he’s articulate in his derangement, so that the insidious forces of consumerism and nasal congestion lead him not just to memories of Vicks but to an almost Jeffersonian longing for “the profound ecstasy of a free breath.” Whereupon the even more insidious force of communist indoctrination quickly offers up an equally eloquent corrective: “That’s the pipe-dream that tempts us away from the path of virtue.”

As it turns out, freedom, virtue, and the prices we pay for them are the central issues in Exiles, a gripping combination of political drama and family squabble, given a taut, vivid production here by artistic director Dámaso Rodriguez.