Portland’s Apex Theater Moment, new spaces, extensions, poetry winners

Theater has gone bonkers, Gabe Flores has a new space, 'Hamlet' is coming, state Poetry Out Loud finalists

Right now, I’m thinking of the concentration of excellent productions onstage at local theaters as a sort of APEX MOMENT in the history of theater in Portland. It’s gotten to the point where ArtsWatch’s A.L. Adams concludes her review of One Flea Spare at Shaking The Tree Theater by simply saying, “I was gobsmacked. You’ll be floored. Catch it. Please.” (Take a look at Luan Schooler’s dramaturge’s notes for this one on ArtsWatch, too.) If you have even the slightest inclination to enter a theater for a couple hours entertainment and/or enlightenment, this is the time to go. Almost any choice you make is a good one, from The Motherfucker With a Hat at Artists Repertory Theatre to Portland Center Stage’s double bill of A Small Fire and Bo-Nita to Portland Playhouse’s A Light in the Piazza to the one I’ve been raving about, The Caretaker at Imago with Allen Nause (Get your Pinter here!). And I could go on: Marty Hughley just reviewed TWO examples of King Lear playing simultaneously here, surely a record all by itself. I can go on, I will go on! Gidion’s Knot at Third Rail, for example, Tartuffe at Post5, and defunct theatre’s Let a Hundred Flowers Bloomand it would be a grave (ahem) error to miss Zombies in Love at Oregon Children’s Theater (or Bob Hicks’ review of same). Remember what Adams said about One Flea Spare? Right: Catch it. Please.

That’s not all that’s going on, though…

Image from City of Seattle.

Image from City of Seattle.

Seattle city government does a small thing to help its musicians. Support for artists doesn’t have to be really expensive to be effective. And the symbolism of this one is really powerful. Do enough small things…

Gabe Flores has a new exhibition project called Surplus Space, co-founded by Travis Nicolai, which is both a physical space inside a small home (3726 NE 7th Ave. in Portland) and a web space where artists can create work that is somehow related to their work in the physical space. At least that’s how I’m reading the press release. The first show is by the Naught Collective’s School for Potential Engagement Potential. I like its credo: “This free, experimental education model, in a perpetual state of redesign, is oriented towards the radical supplementation and redefinition of higher education during an era of actualized academic capitalism. SPEP was conceived as a by-product of creative research conducted by The Naught Collective. It was founded upon a firm belief that higher education should be free and accessible to all, and a dedication to the diverse ways that knowledge is made.” It opens March 27.

Andy Chandler put together a behind-the-scenes video of Post5’s upcoming Hamlet.

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Nationale gallery has extended its exhibition of Amy Bernstein’s solo show, Notes, has been extended until April 20.
You can listen to the conversation between Bernstein and Eva Lake on KBOO’s indispensable Art Focus to hear a little more about the work.

Amy Bernstein's Baobab, 2014. Nationale

Amy Bernstein’s Baobab, 2014. Nationale

The finalists have been selected for the state Poetry Out Loud competition this year: Rosie Reyes, Center for Advanced Learning, Gresham (2013 state champion); Jerika Fuller, Alliance Charter Academy, Oregon City; McKinley Rodriguez, Lincoln High School, Portland (2013 regional participant); Gypsy
Prince, Academy of Arts and Academics, Springfield (2013 regional participant); Sofia Gispert Tello, Hermiston High School; Maxwell Romprey, West Salem High School; Rebekah Ratcliff, Cascade Christian High School, Medford (2013 state participant); Stephanie Gordon, Bandon High School; and Kylie Winger, St. Mary’s School, Medford (2013 regional participant). The participants prepare three poems to recite from a set of 500. I looked at the list these students will be reading and it’s impressive, including classics by John Donne, Emily Dickinson, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mr. Poe, of course, and also Stanley Kunitz, Sylvia Plath, Alberto Rios, and Ilya Kaminsky. You can listen to some great poetry from the finalists 1-4 pm Saturday, March 15, in the Willamette University Library in Salem. The winner goes on to the national competition in Washington D.C.

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