Portland Center Stage Portland Oregon Events

Coast calendar: Telling stories and singing songs

Pacific Story Slam continues, chanteuse Lady Rizo visits, and theatrical comedies offer Elvis and old folks.


Fancy yourself a good storyteller? If so, the North Coast is where you want to be. The Pacific Story Slam takes place in three locales and continues through April, when a grand champ is crowned.

Each week offers a new theme — see below — shared by the venues, giving storytellers multiple audiences for their stories and audiences more opportunities to hear tales from different coastal communities.

Workers Tavern in Astoria holds weekly slams from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays.

Maggie’s on the Prom in Seaside hosts slams from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursdays. Because Maggie’s is a full-service restaurant, it’s the only venue where people under 21 are welcome to spin a tale.

The third venue is just across the border in Washington at the North Beach Tavern in Long Beach. Slams take place there from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Mondays.

Here are the rules: Each story must be true and the storyteller’s own story. The story must be told in the first-person narrative without notes or props. The story should be to theme and told within five minutes. Members of the audience will receive ballots to vote for the winner of the night, based on the guidelines of the competition.

The winners from the nine weeks of competition (sorry, we missed the start in January) will be invited back for the semi-finals at each venue to tell a story on their chosen theme. The top four semi-finalists move on to the Grand Slam, competing for a cash prize, “more bragging rights and a slightly bigger trophy,” according to organizers. That takes place April 10 in the Fort George Brewery in Astoria.

Why, you might ask, a story slam? We’ll let organizers answer:

“A story slam is a live storytelling performance competition that brings people together with the common thread of the rarely boring human condition. It is oral history and entertainment at its finest. Pacific Story Slam brings together diverse coastal communities through the oral storytelling tradition.”

There’s still time to get to Maggie’s on the Prom for the theme “When Life Gives You Lemons.” Beyond that, themes are: Love; On The Job; Epic Fail; Life Changing; Secrets and Lies; Travel; then the semi-finals.

For more information, call Maggie’s On The Prom, 503-738-6403; Worker’s Tavern, (503) 338-7291; or North Beach Tavern (360) 642-2302.

THE PACIFIC DANCE ENSEMBLE is offering two separate shows Feb. 7-9 in the Newport Performing Arts Center.  

Newport’s own Pacific Dance alumna, Amelia Zirin-Brown, aka Lady Rizo, will perform her latest show, RIZO, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Lady Rizo, now based in New York, has received rave reviews three years in a row at the Assembly Festival in Edinburgh; she won the inaugural Time Out London and Soho Theatre Award, and the 2013 London Cabaret Award. She is also a Grammy winner for a 2010 collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma on the holiday album Songs of Joy and Peace. Tickets are $25 and $20.

Dances from the Heart is the ensemble’s 34th annual free performance and benefit auction. It showcases Pacific Dance alumni and dancers in their latest choreography on at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9. For tickets call 541-265-ARTS.

OrpheusPDX Portland Oregon

THERE’S TIME TO CATCH the final performances this weekend of Elvis Has Left the Building, presented by the Tillamook Association for the Performing Arts.

The play, by V. Cate and Duke Ernsberger, concerns a December 1970 disappearance of Elvis Presley. His manager, The Colonel, has a debt to pay and has to find an Elvis impersonator to put on the show. “Hijinks ensue,” as they say, “as The Colonel takes desperate measures to replace a man who is irreplaceable, all while keeping the prying eyes of a nosy reporter at bay and figuring out what happened to the real Elvis.”

Shows are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 7-9. Tickets are $15 and $10.

A BENCH IN THE SUN, a comedy by Ron Clark, continues Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, through Feb. 22, at the Coaster Theatre Playhouse in Cannon Beach. Tickets are $20 to $25.

The story, according to the website: “Joined at the arthritic hip, Harold and Burt, residents of Valley View Gardens and longtime friends, spend their days on a bench in the garden bickering. A once-famous actress has just moved in, giving them something new to argue over. When they learn that the home is about to be sold and they will have to find a new residence, the three join forces to prevent this upsetting development.”

Lori Tobias is a journalist of many years, and was a staff writer for The Oregonian for more than a decade, and a columnist and features writer for the Rocky Mountain News. Her memoir “Storm Beat – A Journalist Reports from the Oregon Coast” was published in 2020 by Oregon State University press. She is also the author of the novel Wander, winner of the 2017 Nancy Pearl Book Award for literary fiction and a finalist for the 2017 International Book Awards for new fiction. She lives on the Oregon Coast with her husband Chan and rescue pups Luna and Monkey.