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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

Bill Rauch is headed for New York City’s Perelman Center

Bill Rauch, the artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival since 2007, is leaving Ashland to become the first artistic director of the Perelman Center, the festival announced this morning. The Perelman Center is the performing arts component of the reconstruction on

Spotlight on: Robi Arce and The Lost Play

Heritage, art, purpose: Robi Arce is a man on fire. These driving passions have merged to make Arce, who is Puerto Rican by birth and a physical theater artist by training, a man on a mission. Very little of anything he says

DanceWatch Weekly: Move it, own it

Because it’s Valentine’s day/week, and love is in the air, I thought I would reflect on loving relationships in regards to dance, more specifically my evolving relationship with dance, with our bodies, why I think we should all dance, and how I

MusicWatch Weekly: jazzing Portland

Jazz is all around Portland for the next couple weeks as PDX Jazz Festival’s 15th annual celebration commences Thursday. Angela Allen has ArtsWatch’s preview, and here’s a few recommendations among this week’s shows. But don’t stop there. With so many performances by

PDX Jazz Festival preview: tributes

by ANGELA ALLEN The past year saw a number of members of jazz royalty ascend to jazz Valhalla: Jon Hendricks, Al Jarreau, Geri Allen, Thara Memory and Hugh Masekela, among others. But jazz lives on. This year’s  Portland Jazz Festival provides an

‘Living Things’ review: animating the everyday

Not all the characters in Archie Washington’s enchanting new musical Living Things are, strictly speaking, alive. Carnival bowling pins that get knocked over and set back up again over and over; components of a science fair rocket; a robot Mars lander and

Building a better ‘Mousetrap’

By MICHAEL SPROLES Born in the English seaside town of Torquay in 1890, Agatha Christie became one of the best-selling novelists of all time, known and beloved for her 66 detective novels, 14 short story collections, and creation of the immensely popular

NEA and NEH, on the chopping block again

“It’s unlikely but not impossible,” I wrote four days ago in the ArtsWatch story A little money for the arts, “that the [National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities], which have been targets of the fiscal and social right almost since

A gorgeous fairy tale, in triplicate

At the risk of revealing my own ignorance, I must admit I had no idea what I was going to see when I was tapped to review CoHo Productions’ This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing. I hadn’t heard

No fool like an old fool

The masks tease, the movements lurch, the dialogue bursts forth like water from a breached linguistic dam: it takes about ninety bedazzling seconds to realize you’re not in American-realism Kansas anymore. Friday’s opening-night performance at Milagro Theatre of Fermín de Reygadas’ 1789

The Photographic Journal

Essay and Photographs By K.B. DIXON The images of Portland included in my latest book of photographs were excerpted from a larger ongoing project—from what is basically a photographic journal, a personalized and idiosyncratic survey of the world around me, an archive that

A little money for the arts

Government funding for the arts continues to be a political hot potato in the American cultural kitchen – and it continues to survive, if on a considerably leaner diet than is common in European nations, where the arts tend to thought of

DanceWatch Weekly: Intersecting with India 2

Since Saturday night, I have been riding on a blissful cloud of happy after seeing 17 Indian dance groups from the Northwest and beyond perform as part of Nritsovava, a fundraiser for Kalakendra. The Portland-based organization founded in 1987, that promotes the

‘Chitra’: tale as old as time

You may not have heard of Northwest Children’s Theater’s latest, Chitra: The Girl Prince, but the tale has been around a long time – as the narrators, the gods Madan (Heath Hyun Houghton) and Vasant (Sudipta Majumdar), explain during the setup. “This

DramaWatch Weekly: Variety Valentine

Few titles are as directly descriptive of plot as CoHo’s forthcoming This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing, an all-ages fable about three sisters who take diverging paths through the wilderness into womanhood. Eenie, meenie, miney mo; I wonder

MusicWatch Weekly: spanning the centuries

Pick a century, and there’s an Oregon concert to suit your taste this week. Working backward from contemporary to ancient, Saturday’s southeast Portland house concert by Ashland based duo Caballito Negro features flutist Tessa Brinckman and percussionist Terry Longshore playing music by

Dance review: skinner/kirk take the old with the new

One new work, two old works, five men, and ten years between then and now, old work and new. That’s the formula for skinner|kirk Dance Ensemble’s concert at BodyVox (through February 10). The pairing of old and new work isn’t its only

“Tesla” lab report

Introduction Harmonic Laboratory’s most recent experiment investigated the question: Can a creative cooperative based in digital media, dance, and music successfully add a new theatrical element to its existing compound to produce an integrative, immersive multimedia experience? This lab report examines the

Ch-ch-changes, good and bad

From the moment Matthew Sunderland steps onstage at The Sanctuary in Donnie’s new play TRANS-formation you sense you’re going to be in for an interesting ride. Sunderland stars as George/Christine in this 70-minute drama about the transsexual pioneer Christine Jorgensen, and the

A swift and savvy ride

Playwright Lisa Kron’s 2.5 Minute Ride isn’t easy to describe. Jane Unger, who directed the production on the boards at Profile Theatre, doesn’t even try in her “From the Director” notes. She is aiming for the spirit of discovery for audiences, and

Artists Rep’s $7 million gift

A white knight has arrived at Artists Repertory Theatre, and his or her name is Anonymous. Dámaso Rodríguez, artistic director and interim general manager of Portland’s second-biggest theater company, announced on Friday morning that the company has received a $7 million gift

Conversations With: Leanne Grabel

My introduction to the multimedia maestro Leanne Grabel comes by way of her small pup, Bailey, who sleeps nestled in her bed on the front porch of a turn-of-the-century house in a close-in Northeast Portland neighborhood. After figuring my way through the

DanceWatch Weekly: Intersecting with India

I have ALWAYS been interested in the intersection and cross-pollination of cultures. As someone who grew up in Berkeley, California, in the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s (hippie to hip hop), and within the Hare Krishna movement (a Gaudiya Vaishnava Hindu religious organization),

VizArts Monthly: February lights

Nearly everyone within earshot of these words already understands that one of the implications of the dramatic uptick in the cost of real estate and rents we’ve experienced lands directly on artists and the arts. At City Hall, it’s apparent that Mayor

Skinner/Kirk Dance Company hits rewind and fast-forward

By HEATHER WISNER The big questions we begin asking ourselves in middle age—about identity, achievement, love, loss, and how to reconcile the passage of time—color an upcoming concert by dance company Skinner/Kirk. Founded in 1998 by Eric Skinner and Daniel Kirk, the

MusicWatch Weekly: choral confluence

Vibrant voices lead this week’s Oregon music calendar, beginning with one of America’s oldest and most revered choral ensembles, St. Olaf Choir’s performance Thursday at Portland’s Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Friday at Eugene’s First United Methodist Church and Saturday afternoon at North Medford

Astor’s great and messy quest

In the early years of the 19th century, John Jacob Astor, a German immigrant who’d already become wealthy through the fur trade and Manhattan real estate, gambled big on a grand vision. His plan was to establish an “emporium” near the mouth

Solofest preview: e pluribus unum

It’s easier than ever for us to hear people who have long been marginalized. From vlogs to podcasts to YouTube and the rest, the proliferation of expressive avenues has revealed a tremendous demand to hear personal stories from once-stifled voices. “The rise

Long, cold, and worth it

Oregon playwright E.M. Lewis’s new show Magellanica opens with a scientist holding a parka and some luggage. “No one ends up in Antarctica by accident,” she says matter-of-factly. It’s true. Those who head deep into the frozen continent do must have strong

Crazy fun with Pete the Cat

“That was kind of crazy. Also kind of funny, right?” – Pete the Cat (Dave Cole), Pete the Cat: The Musical Pete himself might as well have been reviewing this lively, fun, infectious musical, the latest from the ambitious Oregon Children’s Theatre,

Boom! Arts from the edge

Essay and photos by FRIDERIKE HEUER In times of political change and upheaval the arts often undergo a paradigm shift. New ways of representing the world or challenging the status quo rise out of despair or are driven by hope. This is

Sunwook Kim review: subtle touch, dynamic range

By ANGELA ALLEN Sunwook Kim opened his January 14 Portland Piano International recital with J.S. Bach’s Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C Major, BWV 564, written for organ (think majestic, reverential, full-voiced) and ran furiously through the opening toccata. The word, toccata,

DanceWatch Weekly: In the neighborhood

Welcome to the “meet your neighbor” edition of DanceWatch. Yup, that’s right, you are surrounded by a sea of amazing, talented artists, and they all seem to be popping up THIS weekend. And, the “neighborhood” may be much bigger than you think—at

A lioness of the mind

I have been reading the many tributes to Ursula K. Le Guin, my friend of 52 years, who died on Monday at age 88, and they are, mostly, wonderful. They make me remember my own reactions to her work, as novelist, poet,

‘Voices of Light’ preview: trial by fire

Even the flames couldn’t destroy Joan of Arc. The 15th-century teenage revolutionary was infamously burned at the stake for leading a revolution, but her memory survived. Ultimately, she achieved sainthood and became a symbol of France itself. Centuries after her immolation, Danish

Dance review: ‘Two Love Stories’ tracks our heartbreak

By ELIZABETH WHELAN Two Love Stories, presented by Linda Austin’s Performance Works Northwest Sunday night, was far from the romantic walk in the park you’d expect from its title. Marissa Rae Niederhauser, Berlin-based dancer and choreographer, cuts down the back alleys and

Watching Readings

Fertile Ground is springing up about us again, and Portland’s theatrical venues are filled with performances—dance, original drama, comedy, even a couple of premiere musicals, all there to delight audiences. And then there are the playreadings. The festival is heavy with new

MusicWatch Weekly: still burning

The Oregon portion of the valuable new Spontaneous Combustion New Music Festival isn’t even half over and already it’s produced a pair of the finest contemporary classical concerts in recent memory: a spectacular performance of music by Gyorgy Ligeti and one-time Oregonians

“Cosi fan Tutte” review: identity crisis

by ANGELA ALLEN In Seattle Opera’s production of Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte, the stage’s main prop, aside from an inviting pile of mattresses, is a tall mirror. Each character pauses in front of it at some time, checking out his or her current reflection,

Rennie Harris, moving pure

By RACHAEL CARNES According to Lorenzo “Rennie” Harris, the three laws of hip-hop culture are “innovation, individuality and creativity.” “Hip hop comes from the word ‘hippie,’ which means to either open your eyes or re-open your eyes — to be aware,” Harris

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