February 2018

MusicWatch Weekly: wonder women

Our regnant political culture seems to be waging war on everyone who doesn’t belong to the long-dominant ruling class. Let’s hope it’s the last gasps. This week’s Oregon music offers life-affirming musical retaliation from those (sometimes literal) targets: young people, women, immigrants,

DanceWatch Weekly: Welcome to Urban Bush Women

This week I am excited to introduce you to Hair and Other Stories, a new collaborative work by Brooklyn-based Urban Bush Women (UBW). The piece blends dance, theatre, voice, and visual elements, focusing on hair and specifically African American women’s hair, and

Portland’s August occasions

We’re in the middle of August Wilson Week in Portland, which is a very good place to be. On Friday, PassinArt: A Theatre Company opens the great American playwright’s Two Trains Running at the Interstate Firehouse Center. On Monday evening before a

DramaWatch Weekly: Casually Optimistic

I’ve been writing some nice things lately about actors. Maybe more than before, but no less truthful. Lest you think me a suckup, let’s settle the scales. Here are a few current and soon-to-open plays that may be great for all the

PDX Jazz Festival reviews: music and more

by ANGELA ALLEN From elite jazzers to startling up-and-comers, the 2018 Biamp PDX Jazz Festival spread the music around Portland Feb.15-25 with a 100-plus gigs, twice as many musicians, and a wide spread of venues and event prices, many free. Following are

Oregon Ballet Theatre locates the wonder in ‘Wonderland’

By HEATHER WISNER Tiny girls in poofy party dresses spun circles around steam punks sipping coffee in the Keller Auditorium lobby this Sunday, in a scene to rival the afternoon’s main event: Alice (in wonderland), which Oregon Ballet Theatre has mounted for

‘Just This One’ review: staging the blues

At the Fertile Ground Festival performance of Just This One, a jukebox musical based on the eventful life of late Portland bluesman Paul deLay, I went to a play and a great blues concert broke out. I never got to hear deLay,

Setting Brecht: Daniel Daly’s new ‘Mother Courage’ music

by GARY FERRINGTON “Mother Courage and Her Children without music is like Shakespeare without poetry,” says University of Oregon theater professor Michael Malek Najjar. Though Bertolt Brecht’s 1939 anti-war play is not a musical, music is key to telling the “cautionary tale

Resonance Ensemble preview: questions of faith

“This year, a lot of us are feeling the need to make sure our art is responding to the times we are in,” says Resonance Ensemble founder and director Katherine FitzGibbon. On Sunday, the acclaimed choral organization presents a concert that revolves

‘Revelations’ review: waiting for the end of the world

By MARIA CHOBAN  Waiting for the End of the World, Dear Lord! I sincerely hope you’re coming ‘Cause you really started something! — Elvis Costello In grade school, a passel of us would walk to Mrs. Fey’s house every Tuesday after school

Dance review: It was 51 years ago today

By HEATHER WISNER I was working at SF Weekly in the mid-’90s when the Mark Morris Dance Group brought The Hard Nut, its take on The Nutcracker, to UC Berkeley. When the review came in from a freelance writer, the copy editor

Act globally, view vocally: PIFF’s Portland ties

As the 41st Portland International Film Festival rounds the far turn and enters its second week, a mouth-watering array of cinematic flavors remain to be sampled. (We’ll even mention a few of them below.) But PIFF has always done an excellent job

DanceWatch Weekly: Dance apocalypse

It’s down the rabbit hole and into the land of the Beatles with Oregon Ballet Theatre’s Alice (in wonderland) and Mark Morris’s Pepperland (respectively), and oh, so muchly much more in between. Fifteen performances to be exact. Fifteen, completely different dance shows to

MusicWatch Weekly: musical warming

It’s a chilly week in Oregon, but there’s plenty of jazz, of both the hot and cool variety, to keep us warm. Read Angela Allen’s ArtsWatch’s preview of this year’s PDX Jazz Festival, check out the extensive calendar for the many fine

Gambling with ‘Macbeth’

If you are a regular theatergoer you’ve probably seen Macbeth. Possibly multiple times. Possibly too many times. But a director with a vision can make a particular production stand out from all the others in your memory. All it takes is some

‘Rosa Red’ and ‘Spellbinders’ reviews: staging history

Putting history on stage can be challenging when the figures aren’t well known. Playwrights must provide much historical context, and after months or years of researching their lives, it can be hard to maintain audience perspective. Two of this year’s Fertile Ground

With Amorphous, DownRight Productions asks, ‘What If?’

By HEATHER WISNER The new performance-presenting venture DownRight Productions—co-directed by dancers Anna Marra and Emily Schultz—debuted at Headwaters Theatre February 15-18 with Amorphous, a program designed to showcase local talent working at the intersections of dance, art, music, and film. It felt

Elizabeth Malaska: The ancient within the modern

By PAUL MAZIAR When I got the chance to sit down with painter Elizabeth Malaska to discuss some of what I see in her new exhibition, Heavenly Bodies, at Russo Lee Gallery, I was moved by her intensity and congeniality. It’s an

Pride and the need to connect

By ALIA STEARNS The small black box theater that houses defunkt theatre welcomes audiences to its production of The Pride by Alexi Kaye Campbell without fanfare. The simple staging points accurately to a sitting room that does double duty in both 1958

4X4 review: quality quartet

An agitated, hooded man angrily approaches a Transportation Security Administration agent at an airport security station, demanding to know what they’re doing to his son. Violence seems likely to erupt any moment. That was the arresting opener of Contraband, the opening play

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