Monday morning, first thing…

Ramona Lisa (left) as Oya and Jennifer Lanier in "In the Redand Brown Water" at Portland Playhouse./ Christina Riccetti

A nice plump robin is staring in at me as I type this morning, and I’m not sure whether that’s a good omen or not. I mean, how intrusive is his editing going to get? Do robins sneer? On the other hand, spring? Maybe so.

So, what do we need to think about this Monday morning?

1) Portland Playhouse moved back home to the converted church on Northeast Prescott, completing its hegira or forced exile or whatever you want to call it, and opened Tarell Alvin McCraney’s In the Red and Brown Water, the first part of “The Brother Sister Plays” trilogy. I had my say about it, and Marty Hughley deals with it briefly at OregonLive.  The politics of the return, the celebration of Portland Playhouse’s restoration to its neighborhood, this particular play by a talented young African American playwright and the glowing performances by the actors make this show one of those signal events in the life of the culture here, at least for me. (Marty  wrote tellingly about The American Pilot at Theatre Vertigo — I saw him at Portland Playhouse and it was a busy weekend for him, too.)

2) The Portland Playhouse show is a community event, in the warmest sense of community, and it kept the memory of the Betty Feves: Generations exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Craft in my mind, because she was such a great community builder herself. If you’re interested in the color and form of eastern Oregon, the early moments when craft and modern art collided, the manifestation of a great creative spirit and some insight into the cognitive processes that engineered those manifestations — and why wouldn’t you be? This is Oregon ArtsWatch! — you’ll want to see this show, curated so splendidly by Namita Gupta Wiggers. Bob Hicks wrote about it compellingly for us,  and I haven’t seen another substantial take on it yet. (If you’ve seen one or better yet, have one, hit us up below.)

3) Portland Opera opened “Galileo Galilei,” which the company is recording for commercial release, as executive director Christopher Mattaliano told us on opening night. Stay quiet as possible, he told us, even suggesting that we unwrap our lozenges before the music began. Of course, once the baton was raised and the orchestra started its breakneck run through those Philip Glass passages, a great hacking commenced in the audience, and I worried that people were going to leave the Newmark Theatre carrying whole respiratory systems with them. The opera itself is very declamatory, maybe because it focuses on the trial (and recantation) of Galileo for the sin of arguing that the Earth revolves around the Sun. It is most sinuous and joyful when its subject is the science itself, specifically the acceleration of falling bodies. ArtsWatch contributor James McQuillen’s take is pertinent. Tickets are getting very sparse, by the way. (Tuesday is your best bet; it closes April 7.)

4) Because I went to opening night of the opera, I missed tabla genius Zakir Hussain and his Masters of Percussion concert, and I haven’t seen a review of it anywhere. Through the miracle of YouTube is a little of what I missed…

See what I mean?

5) We are trained from birth to consider science and art as separate enterprises, at least I was, but as Betty Feves, the Galileo opera and Freeman Dyson suggest, they are deeply entangled. I’m especially taken with Dyson’s review of a new book, Physics on the Fringe: Smoke Rings, Circlons, and Alternative Theories of Everything
by Margaret Wertheim, which takes us the dreamscapes of scientists, which when you think about it, share a lot in common with the dreamscapes of artists… and those of ordinary mortals.

Enough to get the week off to a decent start? If not, we’ll be back tomorrow!

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