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DanceWatch Weekly: Sarah Slipper choreographs ‘Hedda’

It’s all about liars these days. Recognizing them, calling them out, keeping them in check. It’s the new reality. What truth is, has shifted for some, but truth is fact, it doesn’t shift. Only the shifty shift. And, this week’s two premieres

‘The Mermaid Hour’ rolls around

When David Valdes Greenwood was workshopping The Mermaid Hour back in 2014 one piece of feedback he got was that the play would be “impossible to cast” because it was “too diverse.” The show centers on a 12-year-old transgender girl and features

Portland Mini Musical Festival review: brief encounters

It’s hard enough to produce believable character relationships in a full length musical, what with the characters breaking into song and dance in the midst of their encounters. Yet even in under 15 minutes each, most of the six short works in

Oregon Shakespeare Festival: Changing the social order

By DANIEL POLLACK-PELZNER “We’re here to change the social order. So deal with it.” That’s the cheery, cheeky ensemble announcement that begins Karen Zacarías’s wildly entertaining Destiny of Desire—a deliciously theatrical homage to the mistaken identities, thwarted romances, and swooning pageantry that

Painting the town ‘Scarlet’

Portland Playhouse’s new musical, Scarlet, is no dry historical retelling of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter. While that popular 19th-century novel was the source material for playwright Michelle Horgen’s retelling, and it is set in the same puritanical time, this

Jessica Lang Dance: Classically modern

This weekend, Jessica Lang Dance, which Lang founded in 2011, visited Portland for the first time. A Juilliard graduate, Lang is a former member of Twyla Tharp’s company, THARP!, and is widely recognized as one of the most talented choreographers of her

A kiss is still a kiss, a sigh is …

The drama at the heart of Stage Kiss, the Sarah Ruhl comedy at Twilight Theater Company, can be summed up with a simple question She asks He near the middle of the play: When we kissed, did it feel like “an actor

Tom Prochaska: Painting in the round

Tom Prochaska, who turns 73 this month, began his career with an intense involvement in printmaking, both as an artist and as a professional fine art printer. During the last two decades his main focus has become painting—paintings in which scenes and

The Oscars are dying: So what?

The Oscars are dying. So what?On March 4, the Motion Picture Association of America held the 90th Academy Awards ceremony. You may not have heard about it, since reportedly nobody really cares about the Oscars anymore. As someone who religiously watches, and

Zakir Hussain & Rakesh Chaurasia preview: a conversation in concert

In my thirty-odd years as a lover of all kinds of music, I have seen Zakir Hussain perform live four times: twice with Remember Shakti, and twice with Masters of Percussion. On every occasion, the California-based tabla titan has astounded me with

‘The Holler Sessions’ preview: jazz rant

Podcast interview by DOUGLAS DETRICK Editor’s note: Staged as a live jazz radio broadcast, Seattle-based actor/writer Frank Boyd’s one-maniac show The Holler Sessions is a portrait of a jazz-head(case) / radio DJ who evangelizes for the music in uproarious, often profane riffs. The show originated at Seattle’s

Death and the Maiden: still true

By MICHAEL SPROLES It’s been nearly 30 years since the Argentinian-Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman wrote his groundbreaking political masterpiece, Death and the Maiden. But there are always lessons to be learned from history, and many of the themes and warnings in the

Two Trains, hambone not included

“I want my ham!” a fellow named Hambone shouts as he stands near the entrance of Memphis Lee’s diner in the Hill District of Pittsburgh. He pauses, gathers energy, then shouts again, louder and more intense this time, in a voice that

Stars rising: Clay and Ellis

It’s pretty incredible to witness a star in the making – and that’s exactly what you’ll see at Oregon Children’s Theatre’s latest, And in this Corner: Cassius Clay – The Making of Muhammad Ali. You wouldn’t be foolish to assume I am

MusicWatch Weekly: celebrations and appreciations

The adventurous Portland/Seattle ensemble Sound of Late premieres Book of the Dark by American composer Alan Shockley at their Saturday night informal, hour-long show at Portland’s New Expressive Works. The chamber music score incorporates references to James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, moody English

DanceWatch Weekly: Jessica Lang and Jesús Carmona

Two White Bird shows—New York-based Jessica Lang Dance Company and Compañia Jesús Carmona from Barcelona—bookend this week’s performance schedule. Both choreographers defy categorization, and their hybrid choreographies draw heavily on lighting and visual elements to craft their story. Jessica Lang, artistic director

ArtsWatch: Covering more with less

On the last Saturday morning in January, as Portland was alight with the Fertile Ground Festival of New Plays and dozens of other significant cultural events, I gave a talk to a good-sized crowd at Terwilliger Plaza, titled “Portland Arts: Covering More

DramaWatch Weekly: Crikey!

Fun linguistic facts: Did you know “blimey” is short for “blind me,” and “crikey” for “croak me?” And just like that, an expression of simple surprise becomes a murmured self-annihilation. Thank James Joyce for putting it to paper, and thank the Irish

Spontaneous Combustion reviews 2: sublime solos, dynamic duo

Editor’s note: ArtsWatch deployed a small squadron of reviewers to most of the Spontaneous Combustion Festival’s seven programs of new music spread over 17 concerts in three cities. Here are some of the highlights of the first edition of this valuable new

Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2018: The first round

Your faithless correspondent has now spent a week dithering over all that this particular brainpan could usefully muster about opening weekend at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Hey, these observations and opinions don’t come ready-made! And maybe it’s harder when said correspondent finds

Spontaneous Combustion reviews 1: from hub to sandbox

Editor’s note: ArtsWatch deployed a small squadron of reviewers to most of the Spontaneous Combustion Festival’s seven programs spread over 17 concerts in three cities. Here are some of the highlights of the first edition of this valuable new addition to Oregon’s

A visit with: Phyllis Yes

How refreshing to be reminded that sometimes an artist is an artist is an artist, no matter her chosen medium and despite our own reductive need to “frame” her as just ONE thing. This is most definitely the case with the multi-faceted

Letter from Seattle: Miranda’s rights

By MISHA BERSON SEATTLE — An assortment of plays and musicals is on the boards in Seattle at the moment. But the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning Broadway juggernaut Hamilton is upstaging them all. Hamilton-mania ignited here a year before the national

Urban Bush Women: ‘We’re going on a journey’

Urban Bush Women returned to the White Bird Uncaged series with a new work this weekend, Hair and Other Stories. The company’s first work with stage director Raelle Myrick-Hodges, this ambitious, multidisciplinary performance is definitely about hair and definitely about those “other

Music Notes

• This Saturday, March 3, Portland musicians and fans of long time radio host Robert McBride will gather to celebrate the All Classical Portland announcer and composer’s retirement from the airwaves in a live concert that you can hear over the air

And In This Corner … La’Tevin Alexander Ellis

The day I met with La’Tevin Alexander Ellis, the star of Idris Goodwin’s And In This Corner: Cassius Clay — The Making of Muhammad Ali, opening Saturday at Oregon Children’s Theatre, he had just come from teaching middle schoolers about the eponymous character of

Metropolitan Youth Symphony preview: song of the earth

When most people see their first ballet, they’re transfixed by the action onstage. But when almost-three-year-old Katie Palka went to her first Nutcracker, her dad took her down to see the orchestra pit. “I saw the violins at intermission and said, ‘Wow,

VizArts Monthly: March on

I’ve seen March arrive in Portland more than a dozen times, and yet still some part of me thinks “Ok, it’s spring now, right?” It’s not spring, and it won’t be spring for a while. It’s still winter, still time left in

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

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

CMNW Council
Blueprint Arts Carmen Sandiego
Seattle Opera Barber of Seville
Stumptown Stages Legally Blonde
Corrib Hole in Ground
Kalakendra May 3
Portland Opera Puccini
Cascadia Composers May the Fourth
Portland Columbia Symphony Adelante
OCCA Monthly
NW Dance Project
Oregon Repertory Singers Finding Light
PPH Passing Strange
Maryhill Museum of Art
PSU College of the Arts
Bonnie Bronson Fellow Wendy Red Star
Pacific Maritime HC Prosperity
PAM 12 Month
High Desert Sasquatch
Oregon Cultural Trust
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