Borderless clowns, film bash, more

Short takes: Clowns Without Borders, International Film Festival & gala, Sleeping Beauty, Volcanos & Colescott, Tanya Barfield's big prize

If “Clowns Without Borders” sounds funny, it should: After all, it’s clowns we’re talking about here. And if it doesn’t sound funny, well, it shouldn’t, because what the Clowns Without Borders clowns are up to is pretty serious, and in its way important, business.

All right, it’s not saving lives; at least not immediately. But like groups such as Doctors Without Borders, the members of Clowns Without Borders are taking their special skills to places where they’re needed most. What they offer, according to the group’s mission statement, is “joy and laughter to relieve the suffering of all persons, especially children, who live in areas of crisis including refugee camps, conflict zones and territories in situations of emergency.” Recently that’s included projects in Colombia for Venezuelan refugees, Palestine, the Bahamas for Hurricane Dorian relief, Zimbabwe, along the United States/Mexican border, and elsewhere. When times are tough, laughter can be the best medicine.

Leapin’ Louie Lichtenstein lassos laughs. Photo: Regularman

Portland’s very active chapter regularly sends a wide variety of clowns, jugglers, acrobats, comics, and others to hot spots around the world, and this Saturday, Feb. 22, a bunch of the best will be doing a pair of shows at Northeast Portland’s Alberta Rose Theatre – a family matinee at 2 o’clock and an evening show at 8, also family-friendly. They’re the locals’ 21st annual benefit shows to help keep the clowns on the road. Keep an eye out for, among others, the likes of juggler Rhys Thomas, magician/comedian Adam the Great, Italian/Portland physical comedian Stefano Iaboni, cowboy trickster Leapin’ Louie Lichtenstein, and clown extraordinaire Iman Lizarazu, a Basque/French entertainer who won last year’s International Clowns Festival Jury Prize in Milan and, oh, yes, also possesses a PhD in astrophysics. Ticket information here.

Iman Lizarazu: the astrophysics of clowning. Photo: Pierre Feniello

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THE 43rd ANNUAL PORTLAND INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL is coming up March 6-15, offering a cornucopia of cinema short and long, documentary and fictional, from around the world, and if you really want to indulge in a little red-carpet shoulder rubbing, you might want to show up for the festival’s 2020 Cinema Unbound Awards bash on March 9.

Julianne Moore in Todd Haynes’ 2002 movie hit “Far From Heaven.”

Sure, it’s pricey. But it’s a benefit for the film fest’s organizational papa, the Portland Art Museum’s estimable Northwest Film Center, and in addition to dinner, cocktails and entertainment in the museum’s Grand Ballroom, you get to be in the same room with the likes of auteur director Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven; Mildred Pierce); John Cameron Mitchell, creator of Hedwig and the Angry Inch; Oscar-nominated documentarian Julie Goldman; Portland animation wiz Rose Bond; and more. If this sounds like your slice of heaven, heads up: Ticket deadline is Feb. 28.

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Gavin Larsen (arm raised) and Javier Ubell in the 2010 premiere production of Christopher Stowell’s “The Sleeping Beauty.” Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert

TIME’S RUNNING SHORT for Oregon Ballet Theatre’s revival of former artistic director Christopher Stowell’s ravishing version of The Sleeping Beauty: Only four more performances until the alarm clock goes off and she disappears again. Final shows Friday and Saturday evenings, with matinees on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 21-23. It’s in the 3,000-seat Keller Auditorium, so that’s 12,000 seats to choose from. Details here.

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Robert Colescott, “Knowledge of the Past is the Key to the Future: Upside Down Jesus and the Politics of Survival,” 1987, acrylic on canvas, Museum purchase: Robert Hale Ellis Jr. Fund for the Blanche Eloise Day Ellis and Robert Hale Ellis Memorial Collection, © 1987 Robert Colescott.

THE PORTLAND ART MUSEUM has opened a couple of big-deal exhibitions this month: Art and Race Matters: The Career of Robert Colescott, and Volcano! Mt. St. Helens in Art. Both continue through May 17. Colescott, who died in 2009, kick-started his distinguished career while teaching at Portland State University from 1957 to 1966. Volcano! – which features work by contemporary artists including Henk Pander, Lucinda Parker, and George Johanson, 19th century artists including Paul Kane and Albert Bierstadt, and an impressive selection of photographers – marks the 40th anniversary of the mountain’s series of eruptions in 1980. While you’re there, you might also want to check out the continuing shows Isaka Shamsud-Din: Rock of Ages, featuring the Portland master painter, and Portraiture from the Collection of Northwest Art, which is exactly that.

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Jasper Howard and Amanda Soden in Profile Theatre’s 2016 production of Tanya Barfield’s “The Call.” Photo: David Kinder

PLAYWRIGHT TANYA BARFIELD, WHO GREW UP IN PORTLAND and went to the Metropolitan Learning Center before heading off to New York University and Juilliard, will be picking up a major career achievement award from PEN America on March 2, alongside fellow honorees Tom Stoppard, M. Nourbese Philip, and Rigoberto González. Portland’s Profile Theatre devoted its 2016 season to her plays. You can read our reviews of Profile’s productions of Barfield’s The Call, Bright Half Life, and Blue Door from that season.

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