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 for their wry twist on the human condition, which, this month, we celebrate.
At least two companies seem to be making St. Patrick’s festivities official, mentioning “Irish Month” in promoting intimate Irish shows: Portland Story Theater’s Luck of the Irish and Readers Theater Repertory’s Lovers: Winners.
The former will fill the Old Church to the brim with music and blarney for a 90-minute step-dancing, harping, fiddling variety and storytelling show.
The latter, a dramatic reading of Brian Friel’s Lovers: Winners, eavesdrops on two teenagers struggling to focus on studying for their exams, even as “an unforeseen event propels them into disgrace.” Ooooooo. (Call 971.266.3787 to make reservations. The Blackfish Gallery fills up fast.)
Oh! And it looks like fly-by-night micro-company Speculative Drama and Susurrations will soon debut an Irish-infused White Hound of the North at The Steep and Thorny Way to Heaven (reserve at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Of course, you can’t mention Irish Theater in Portland without checking in on Corrib. One may even wonder if, like serious partiers shun New Year’s Eve as “amateur night,” serious Irish folklorists snub St. Patty’s. Sure enough, looks like they’re laying low in the afterglow of Lifeboat, and in more ways than one, prepping Quietly for April. Two Irishmen meet in a Belfast bar 30 years after The Troubles to remember events and reconcile a rift.
What sort of affair is Our Mother’s Brief Affair? Sounds like a talkie on a park bench rather than a song-and-dance soiree. Triangle Productions opens it this weekend. Like Mother’s iconic Burberry trench coat, it sounds like a subdued character study in revealing, concealing, and putting on airs.
Hester Prynne and the rest of the Scarlet Letter gang burst out in song in writer/composer Michelle Horgen’s new musical Scarlet, opening officially this weekend at Portland Playhouse after an extended previews run.
Spring makes me look for some festivals I’m not finding.
And these are not even the quaint subcultural hauntings I sometimes favor. These are mainstreamers, big-ticketers, multi-day marquee offerings. Where are they this year? Bridgetown Comedy, which turned 10 last year, now turns up a fundraising plea for a co-founder’s open-heart surgery. The Umbrella Festival of Circus Arts also seems to have quietly subsided (perhaps after a social rift among certain cirque/burlesque folk that’s a whole other—largely unverifiable—story).
ArtsWatch’s Bob Hicks has spoken volumes this week about the changing Portland arts landscape, the diminishing of journalism in the ever-expanding ether-sphere of sponsored clickbait, and the role of ArtsWatch amid this turbulent convergence. Brew some tea and scroll through that mother for more context than I could possibly muster.
And ArtsWatch’s Barry Johnson has the lowdown on the opening round of shows at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. There’s some great stuff onstage, he says, and a melancholy in the air, given artistic director Bill Rauch’s departure soon for New York.
On the horizon:
Hand2Mouth dons a Uniform and pairs with Third Angle New Music to eulogize Elliot Smith. Looks like a ragtag band (literally) of richly historied musicians has rallied around cult classic Harold and Maude in some theatrical fashion. Members of The Nowhere Band (of White Album Christmas acclaim) and The Eels (be still, my ’90s teen spirit) present The Harold and Maude Squad at Alberta Rose.
The Pulp Stage will premiere College Monologues, where intrigue meets Ivy League and all hell breaks loose.