Christa McIntyre

 

Manifesting a murderer’s mind

"Manifesto," taken from the words of Isla Vista spree killer Elliot Rodger's writings, replays a violent loop in search of meaning

Read the news on any given day and there’s either a shooting or an anniversary of a shooting. It’s not easy to become numb to the violence, but keeping up with it is demanding. The six degrees of separation theory keeps us tied to events. I knew someone running in the Boston Marathon when the homemade bombs went off. My childhood friend lives in Connecticut and texted me about the Newtown tragedy. Another friend was taking his small children to see Santa on the fateful night a few years back at Clackamas Town Center. We may not all have the same geographic or personal proximity, but the shootings can echo through our own lives.

Manifesto, a one-person performance created by Sam Reiter, Solveig Esteva, and Emma Rempel and performed by Reiter, is a claustrophobic rollercoaster ride through the mind of a spree killer. It begins with neglected human elements and maps a course from irrational traps to bloodthirsty rage.

Sam Reiter as mass killer Elliot Rodger. Photo: Solveig Esteva

You might remember the story. Manifesto is an adaptation of the real words left behind by Elliot Rodger, an isolated 22-year-old in Southern California who carried out the Isla Vista killing spree of May 23, 2014, murdering six people near the campus of the University of California Santa Barbara before killing himself with a gunshot wound to the head.

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Beehive’s hum and sting

Broadway Rose takes a musical tumble into the the sounds and styles (and hairdos) of the 1960s

Breathe a sigh of relief: the Broadway Rose New Stage has high enough ceilings to accommodate the fabulous hairstyles that parade across the stage in the company’s latest production, Beehive.

Beehive, a musical revue of the top ten hits and girl groups of the 1960s and a clever celebration of women’s voices, begins with six young teenagers who find refuge in the family garage to practice their dance moves and vocals along with the radio hits that consume their world. These are more than just songs: they’re maps that chart the bumpy waters of adolescent emotional lives. It’s a rite of passage for most kids (and a vexation to their parents) to hole themselves up in a room and fall head over heels for music.

The hairdos have it in Broadway Rose’s “Beehive.” Photo: Liz Wade

Unlike many of us who copied dance moves in the secrecy of our bedrooms, these girls from the golden age of American culture, music, and design have the style handbook down. Their coiffures are architectural masterpieces, replicas of the hairsprayed skyscrapers of the girl-group greats who rocked the original locks. The beehive hairdo took an enormous amount of weekly effort to perfect, from the right kind of shampoo to the best size soup can to achieve maximum flip to the intense under-teasing and overlaying back comb. It’s the American version of the geisha’s shimada. And at Broadway Rose, Andrea Enright’s Leslie Gore has the hair down to a T, with golden highlights framing her face. The cast moves through several costume changes as the conservative Jackie Kennedy lines become relaxed and individual as the decade advances. The whole ensemble of hair, costume, and stage is eye candy, like leafing through a 3D fashion history.

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Broken tulips, tethered lines

Sara Fay Goldman's solo show "Tether" at Fertile Ground illustrates the beauty and sorrow of ADD

Sara Fay Goldman’s Tether: A One-Woman Anti-Circus about Brain Chemistry is listed in the 2017 Fertile Ground guide as a work in progress. Artists always struggle with where the perfect ending points are in a work and Goldman may have elaborate ideas on how to expand her show, but Tether, directed by Rusty Tennant, is a dynamic, well composed, seemingly complete performance as it stands that champions those beautiful humans who aren’t neurotypical.

You may have seen a BBC television show hosted by science historian James Burke called Connections. In one episode he takes you on a journey showing how the Little Ice Age in medieval times led to the invention of chimneys, buttons, waistcoats, and wall tapestries, and from there guides you into the 20th century, showing how little advances in technology led to gasoline engines. It’s in these mental bridges that Burke connects the dots between what seems improbable or dissimilar, and illustrates the ripple effect of history and human ideas, exposing the corners where they touch.

Sara Fay Goldman in “Tether.” Photo: Myrrh Larsen

Goldman moves in similar mental circles, using a hyper-ecstasy, a touch of pain from alienation, the art of acrobatics, performance art, and some delicious monologues. She’s been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, and Tether is an intimate portrait of her interior life. In Act I she’s the red-nosed Auguste clown who scrolls out a rapid-fire dialogue, jumping from one quote to the next. Digging into Cartesian ideas about being, piecing those reflections with a reference to Alvin Lucier’s famous study in stuttering I am Sitting in a Room, jumping to a monologue by Bottom from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, referring to Bottom’s involvement with the juice of a rare flower in the play, then puzzle-piecing it to the Tulip Wars of 1637, Goldman props herself onto a soapbox about the British colonizers’ approach to botany and ends with the dull irony of scientific watercolor reproductions of cataloged species hanging for display in hipster bars. It’s a high-flying and exquisite execution of how creative cognition’s roller-coaster ride turns and twists at high speeds from the inside out.

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El Payaso: Not just clowning around

Milagro's bilingual Fertile Ground play recalls clown/activist Ben Linder and highlights current social and political struggles

On April 30, 1987, David and Elisabeth Linder buried their 27-year-old son, Ben, in Matagalpa, a small city in Nicaragua. Ben Linder had been tortured and killed two days before with American arms at the hands of Reagan-backed Contras fighting an insurgent war against the nation’s leftist Sandinista government. A funeral led by then-Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega Saavedra followed, with a procession of thousands of local and foreign mourners, and in that crowd marched clowns from the Nicaraguan National Circus, their painted mouths turned downwards.

Milagro contributes to Portland’s ninth annual Fertile Ground Festival of new works with its world premiere of El Payaso, a bilingual agitprop play that matches our times and is based on Ben Linder’s life. El Payaso (The Clown) runs through January 21 and then sets off for a national tour to educate middle schoolers.

Milagro’s “El Payaso”: clowing, engineering, pushing for change. Photo: Russell J Young

Based on talks with Linder’s parents and some of Ben’s letters, rising Latino star playwright Emilio Rodriguez wrote the script. Rodriguez co-owns the Black and Brown Theatre Company in Detroit, where he is also a teacher. He’s known for writing scripts with a well-developed poetic muscle, and El Payaso is a living eulogy to the fallen activist Linder. Half the play is spoken in Spanish, and an elementary proficiency is helpful to follow along.

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Stardust Memories: finding our inner Peter Pan

The national touring company of "Finding Neverland" flies into the Keller with the musical tale of J.M. Barrie and how his fantasy came to be

Finding Neverland greets the Portland new year with a brief run on the Keller Auditorium stage, where it opened Tuesday night and continues through Sunday, Jan. 8, in the Broadway in Portland series. The musical kicked off its national tour in October, after passed the Great White Way’s litmus test by winning audiences and a passel of awards, including the Drama Desk, Astaire and Drama League.

Kevin Kern as J.M. Barrie and Tom Hewitt as Captain Hook, with crew. Photo: Carol Rosegg

True to the title, Finding Neverland is a semi-historical, but winsome look at how and why Scottish author J.M. Barrie came to write the beloved Peter Pan series. Part of the true story goes that Barrie was on the cricket team with the most dexterous vocabulary of all time: H.G. Wells, Rudyard Kipling, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, P.G. Wodehouse, A.A. Milne, to name a few. The team also included a man named George Llewelyn Davies, who had married into famed British author Daphne Du Maurier’s family. Barrie became the guardian to Llewelyn Davies’ sons, George, John, Nicholas, Michael and Peter.

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¡Felices Fiestas! con Milagro

Milagro Theatre pulls out the stops on Sunday for its 14th annual free holiday celebration

On Sunday, Milagro Theatre will celebrate one of the city’s most congenial holiday gatherings, its 14th annual Posada Milagro, an all-ages immersive experience of Latin American traditions for La Navidad.

Posada Milagro, a community celebration of the season. Milagro Theatre photo

The “Miracle Inn” portrays the journey or Pastorela of Mary and Joseph as they search for shelter and await the birth of baby Jesus. Posada Milagro will include two performances of the Pastorela, at 2 and 4 p.m. Sunday. Papalotl Ballet, Portland’s own multigenerational ballet folklorico de Mexico, will perform its whirling and toe-tapping repertoire of dance, backed by music from Cosecha Mestiza.

After each performance there’ll be a chance to take a swing at a piñata. Latinx Improv will entertain the crowd with their comic storytelling. The afternoon will include hands-on activites, too: adults and children have five handicrafts to choose from, including ornament-making.

Traditional tamales and hot chocolate will be available to buy from Tortillería y Tienda de Leon. Even better, you can bring a donation for the Oregon Food Bank and help support families in our community.

This year’s Posada will feature a photo booth, too. Put on your best or ugliest Christmas sweater to get the picture done right!

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Admission to Posada Milagro is free. However, the Pastorela is limited to ticket-holders only. Free tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first served basis at the theater beginning at 1 p.m. on the day of the event. For one day only, this family-friendly event is on Sunday, December 18th from 1 PM to 5 p.m. at El Centro Milagro, 537 S.E. Stark St., Portland.

A joyful miser: ‘Christmas Carol’ at Portland Playhouse

For the fourth year, the Playhouse's touching version of the Dickens classic lights up the stage

A recent article surfaced from the think tank the Acton Institute, supported by the next secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, which wants us to “rethink our position on child labor.” When Charles Dickens penned the novella A Christmas Carol in 1843, he had in mind the women and children he termed “victims of the Industrial Revolution”: the poor London souls who toiled to early deaths under the smokestacks of early factories. For all the Scrooges out there who’ve grown tired of the Currier and Ives Victorian death grip on the holiday aesthetic, this seasonal reminder of Christmases past, present, and yet to come may be the snake oil your hot cider needs.

At Portland Playhouse, which has opened the fourth annual production of its multiple award-winning version of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge – a delicious Dickens name and noun, somewhere between screw and gouge – is immediately distinguishable from the rest of the characters onstage. Jen Rowe’s Scrooge wears a perma-scowl, and loafs with a purposed business shuffle. She wears a black dovetail suit, her hair is pulled back with pincher precision, and her complexion is near ash. Scrooge the misanthrope, horrible old miser, pales in the sights of the rosy-cheeked and ornately clothed villagers. Rowe’s diction is on point, like a rusty typewriter key punching paper. She takes little to no time looking up from her counting ledger, except to raise an eyebrow in disapproval or her can’t-be-bothered voice.

A light in the darkness: Portland Playhouse's "A Christmas Carol." Photo: Brud Giles

A light in the darkness: The Playhouse’s “Christmas Carol.” Photo: Brud Giles

The outside of the old church where Portland Playhouse makes its home looks more like late autumn. The neighborhood is filled with a few Christmas baubles in the yards, but mostly decorated with protest signs. Once you’re in the door of the theater, the angry aura of the president-elect is swept away in a candlelit hue. Cockney accents of passersby welcome you, and the warm voices of what seems a spontaneous choir reach your ears. The scene for Portland Playhouse’s A Christmas Carol is an immersive dunk into a world long gone by.

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