We have visa problems, Mickey Rooney’s Puck, an Agenda, Goonies II, more!

To get your week off on the right foot, a bright set of News and Notes

Boom Arts presents Deborah Asiimwe's "Appointment with gOD"

Boom Arts presents Deborah Asiimwe’s “Appointment with gOD”

So, this is a happy, sunny Monday News & Notes! We are DETERMINED to look on the bright side. Today’s subjects: Boom Arts has visa problems, Agenda hits the streets, Northwest Dance Project, Mickey Rooney’s Puck, “The Goonies” returns, Choro in Schola.

Thanks to Skype, Portland will be able to see Ugandan playwright Deborah Asiimwe talk about her play Appointment with gOD at workshop productions sponsored by Boom Arts at PSU April 11-13 and at a public talk at Lewis & Clark College tonight. But no thanks to the State Department, we won’t get to see her in person. Oh the wheels of the Bureaucracy grind slowly and sometimes not so well. Boom founder Ruth J. Wikler-Luker pointed out the irony of it all: In Asiimwe’s play “a young woman artist from a developing country who hopes to come to the US for a theatre workshop is denied a visa by the local US Embassy.” New York-based director Emily Mendelsohn will lead the workshop with Portland actors Victor Mack, Ithica Tell, and Damaris Webb, as well as drummer Alex Addy of the Obo Addy Legacy Project, and student and community performers. And Mendelsohn will be here for the talk tonight in person along with the virtual Asiimwe, technology cooperating and all, 7 p.m. Monday, April 7, The Fir Acres Main Stage Theatre, Lewis & Clark College. It’s free, and you can reserve your ticket here. The workshop production of the play will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, April 11-3, Lincoln Hall Studio Theatre, Portland State University, $20 reserved, $12 general admission.

Screen_shot_2014-03-26_at_5.24.52_PM 2The Portland Mercury’s new arts magazine, Agenda, has started popping up in material form at various coffeeshops and arts locales. It reminds me a little of Willamette Week’s old Fresh Weekly, which closed up shop as a stand-alone tabloid in 1983, if I remember correctly. I happened to have edited Fresh Weekly for four years, and it was most exceedingly fun to work on: May Alison Hallett, Agenda’s editor have just a good a time as I did! The online version is here. The next issue is scheduled to hit the streets on August 29.

Speaking of Agenda, after you read AL Adams’s review of the Northwest Dance Project’s 10th anniversary concert, and you should, you should, you might want to drop in on her interview with founding artistic director Sarah Slipper in Agenda.

Mickey Rooney had one of those historical Hollywood careers that transformed into nostalgia-celebrityhood and a seemingly endless round of “Sugar Babies” revivals. My one interview with him during one of those tours was a disaster, from my point of view: Three rehearsed sentences about the show and that was it. Then again, why would he want to explore his life and times with some character The Oregonian sent to talk to him? He wouldn’t. He didn’t. Let’s just say I didn’t see Andy Hardy in there anywhere. Or Puck. Yes, he played Puck in a 1935 film version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with a great cast: Dick Powell, Olivia de Havilland, James Cagney (as Bottom), and a host of fabulous character actors from the time. Here’s that last speech of the play, delivered by Mickey Rooney.

Is director/producer Richard Donner going to film a sequel/update to The Goonies starring the original cast? He’s giving it serious consideration. And will he film it here in Oregon, just like the original? We hope so!

Every kid should be able to take arts classes—music, theater, dance, visual arts, digital arts, writing, etc.—just as a matter of course. We know that project-oriented learning is superior to other approaches, and the arts are perfect. But in American and Oregon the arts went out the window a long time ago during various budget crunches and are just now starting to sneak back in. In the meantime, something good happened: Artists themselves started taking responsibility for taking the arts to the kids.ArtsWatch’s Jana Hanchett took a look at one group, of Portland singers, Choro in Schola, who decided to do something about inadequate support for choral music.

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