Fertile Ground Festival

DanceWatch Monthly: February is all about the love

February in Portland dance is all about love and its many forms (not just Valentine's Day)


It’s February and love is in the air. Dance performances this month, appropriately enough, express love in a wonderful variety of ways. From the familiar romantic love to platonic love. From the love of connecting with community too connecting with oneself. From the love of music to the love of pure movement. From the love of sharing, to the love of technology, to the love of the wild. From the love of experimentation and research to the love of a good book and a good story, to the love of intimacy, and to the love of things big and small. For the love of god. For dance itself and for the gift of emotional expression. 


“To dance is to be out of yourself,” American choreographer Agnes de Mille famously proclaimed. “Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking.” 

So, let’s dance, and do it with love.

Dances in February

Week 1: February 1-2

Holy Goats!
Performance Works N
2 pm February 2
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Ave

Holy Goats! Sunday afternoon improvisations and bagels are back!  This new iteration will be devoted to dance and music by Portland-area and visiting artists. The dancers include Allie Hankins and Caspar Sonnet, Pepper Pepper, Tracy Broyles + Adrian Hutapea + jaime lee christiana, Luke Gutgsell + Kennedy Verrett. The musicians: Catherine Lee, Caspar Sonnet, Dan Sasaki, Annie Gilbert, and Stephanie Lavon Trotter.

Founded in 1999 by Artistic Director Linda Austin and Technical Director Jeff Forbes, Performance Works NorthWest || Linda Austin Dance engages artists and audiences of the Pacific Northwest in the process of experimentation, creation and dialogue around the presentation of contemporary performance. 

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DanceWatch Monthly: Marquee TV leaps into the void

A new streaming channel for the performing arts joins local live stage performances this month

Have you heard of Marquee TV? It’s the new Netflix for the dance, opera, and theatre that you can stream in HD onto just about any electronic device. It is now possible to see an abundance of beautifully filmed, full-length productions by some of the biggest choreographic names in contemporary dance, ballet, and dance film-productions. You wouldn’t normally have access to unless you were a frequent traveler to Europe and Russia, and they are not available anywhere else on the web. Subscriptions are reasonably priced, too: You can either pay either pay $8.99 monthly or $89.99 a year to have access to all of the channel’s content. 

Marquee TV  has categories for Contemporary Dance, Ballet, British Choreographers, American Choreographers, works from the Royal Ballet, works from The Bolshoi Ballet, Dance Films, Unique Fusion works, Hip Hop inspired dances, Ballet documentaries, Behind the Scenes films, Opera and Theatre. There are works by Crystal Pite, Herve Koubi, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Akram Khan, Alexander Ekman, and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, to name just a few, of course. And there are pieces by such American choreographers as Mark Morris, Bill T. Jones, Alonzo King of Lines Ballet, and Seattle choreographer Catherine Cabeen. 

There are also choreographers and works available on the site that we here in Portland are familiar with thanks to White Bird—I’m thinking Crystal Pite’s Betroffenheit, and French-based Compagnie Hervé KOUBI.

Betroffenheit by Crystal Pite. Photo by Michael Slobodian.

It is important to the Marquee TV co-founders Marc Kirschner and Kathleya Afanador that the channel not be an archive, a repository, or library for older works, but a living representation of the best performing arts that are being produced today. “It is a curated, constantly refreshed source for those who love the arts,” Afanador said during a series of emails and phone calls I had with the pair. 

“Marquee TV is actually a combination of two teams,” Kirschner said. “Our New York team, led by Kathleya and myself, came from TenduTV, which was the earliest digital outlet/distributor of dance programming. Our London team is mainly comprised of BBC veterans and is led by our third co-founder, Simon Walker, who was a lead architect of Arts Council England’s digital strategy.”

“We’ve designed the Marquee platform to be something that adds to the live arts ecosystem, not something that exists outside of it or competes with it,” Afanador said. “So part of the curation strategy is really about building ongoing partnerships with the arts organizations and positioning Marquee as a digital extension of the great work they’re already doing.  

For Marc, he consider venues like White Bird to be their spirit animals or guides as to what Marquee TV should screen.

Marquee is piloting a “digital membership” program with some arts organizations. That will give their members and patrons access to their content on Marquee, Afanador said.

“Our acquisition strategy is very much focused on staying current, Afanador said.

ALICE by Christopher Wheeldon for The Royal Ballet. Photo by Johan Persson.

Although the channel will have and will acquire great classics, it is committed to showcasing the new work being created and the diverse artists voices that are out there right now, Afanador said. “We look at what’s being written about and reviewed; what productions are going to be touring; what choreographers are getting commissioned and who’s setting work on various companies around the world.” 

There is an assumption that seeing performances live is the ultimate experience, and that digital experiences will drive people away from the theatre, but I would argue, now that I’ve experienced Marquee TV, that that’s not true. What you get is an intimate experience with choreographers and their work on your own timeline. You can get up for snacks and go to the bathroom as many times as you want without disturbing anyone. 

“It’s about risk management.” Kirschner said, “People don’t want to have a bad experience. Given how much tickets are, people want to know they will enjoy it.”

Kirschner said they surveyed four thousand people in the US and found that younger audiences want familiarity with an artist and their work and will watch what they can see online and go to the theatre as well. 

In Europe, digital is a part of every arts organizations mission, Kirschner explained. The goal is to reach a variety of communities through digital media, to create the biggest impact, and to draw people into the theaters to see the work live. 

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Sutra. Photo courtesy of Marquee TV.

Now I did have one issue with watching Marquee TV on my own TV, which Marc explained is an Apple one. Because I have a first generation Apple TV I can’t get to the Apple TV App Store to get the Marquee TV App. But I can easily watch through AirPlay and get an upgraded Apple TV which I’ve been wanting to get anyways. 

“We are expanding our reach as we speak—we’re about to launch on a major cable app platform, and we have a few more similar deals in the pipeline. From a device perspective, the only problematic ones are LG and Samsung TVs. However, both of those manufacturers have begun supporting AirPlay on their higher-end models, so that barrier is coming down for us. Plus, now that many streaming middleware providers (Roku, Amazon Fire, AndroidTV) are embedding their systems directly into newer generations of Smart TVs, we’re rapidly reaching a point where Marquee will be accessible to any new device that supports streaming.”

So get those snacks, get cozy, and get watching your favorite choreographers or discover new ones, on Marquee TV. You can find all the details on the website.

Dance Performances in January 2020

Week 1: January 1-5

ZooZoo

Imago Theatre, Carol Triffle and Jerry Mouawad
January 1-5
Imago Theatre, 17 SE 8th

ZooZoo is back! This longtime, audience favorite magnifies the quirkiness in our everyday life with an expert composition of elaborate costumes, masks, dance, music, physical comedy, and anthropomorphic humor. ZooZoo features a zany cast of characters like playful polar bears, firefly eyes, hippos with insomnia, arrogant anteaters, introverted frogs, acrobatic worms, self touting accordions, and tricky penguins, in this carnival of the absurd. 

Founded in 1979 by Carol Triffle and Jerry Mouawad, Imago presents original productions using masks and elaborate costumes making the humans disappear and the imaginative creatures appear.

Week 2: January 6-12

Might I suggest, Marquee TV?

Week 3: January 13-19

Dancer Andrea Parson in She’s Here: A One Woman Show. Photo courtesy of Andrea Parson.

She’s Here: A One Woman Show
Andrea Parson and Susan Banyas
January 16-18
CoHo Productions, 2257 NW Raleigh Street

Choreographed and performed by veteran NW Dance Project dancer and Princess Grace Award winner Andrea Parson, She’s Here: A One Woman Show investigates the spiritual roots of one woman through dance and storytelling. Directed by Portland writer and performance artist Susan Banyas, this evening-length work weaves personal stories, oral history, and myth to trace spirituality, magic and witchery in Parson’s Sicilian lineage. 

a world, a world by Linda Austin. Photo by Chelsea Petrakis

a world, a world
Choreographed by Linda Austin in collaboration with the performers: Austin, claire barrera, Muffie Delgado Connelly, Nancy Ellis, Hannah Krafcik, Danielle Ross, and Noelle Stiles
Presented by Performance Works NorthWest 
January 16-25
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Ave

Performed for an intimate audience of 30, a world, a world, drops the viewer into the same, saturated, arena-like environment that the dancers themselves inhabit. The work offers an immersive experience that is an amalgamation of movement, sound, image, and language.

An American in Paris
Presented by Broadway in Eugene
January 17-18
The Hult Center for the Performing Arts, Silva Concert Hall, 1 Eugene Way, Eugene

Post-war Paris is full of romance and youthful optimism as World War ll veteran Jerry Mulligan begins to make plans for a new life as a painter. But things get complicated when he meets a young Parisian shop girl with secrets. In this musical, the power of love is rediscovered through gravity-defying choreography and soaring Gershwin melodies that include, but are not limited to, I Got Rhythm, Liza, S Wonderful, But Not for Me, and Stairway to Paradise.

Week 4: January 20-26

a world, a world by Linda Austin continues through the 25th.

Berto Boyd and the artists of Flamenco Pacifico. Photo courtesy of Berto Boyd.

Flamenco Pacifico
Presented by Berto Boyd
7:30 pm January 24 
The Old Church Concert Hall, 1422 SW 11th Ave 

In the spirit of convivencia (“coexistence” in Spanish), Flamenco Pacifico’s acclaimed guitarist and composer Berto Boyd integrates Brazilian samba and American jazz with traditional Spanish flamenco in this one-night-only performance. Boyd, with guitarist/singer Grant Ruiz, percussionist Terry Longshore, and bassist Randy Tico, will accompany dancers Elena Villa and Melissa Cruz.

An artist of Flip Fabrique’s Blizzard enjoying the snow. Photo courtesy of Flip Fabrique.

Blizzard
Flip Fabrique
8:00 pm January 25
Hult Center for the Performing Arts, Silva Hall, 1 Eugene Way
&
Presented by Portland’5
7:00 pm January 26
Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay Street, Portland

Canadian circus company, Flip Fabrique, started by a group of friends in 2011, appropriately takes on the extreme experience of winter as a canvas for storytelling, through circus arts, creating arresting visual poetry. Blizzard, captures the magic of winter and invites you to lose yourself in the wonderment and joy of movement. 

Olga Smirnova as Giselle and Artemy Belyakov as Albrecht in Alexei Ratmansky’s reconstructed “Giselle” at the Bolshoi Ballet. Photo by Damir Yusupov/Bolshoi Theater

Giselle
The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, Fathom Events
12:55 pm January 26

This romantic ballet in two acts follows the peasant girl Giselle as she learns that her aristocratic lover (Albrecht) is promised to another. After going mad and dying from a broken heart, she returns from the dead as a vengeful spirit (a Wili) and she and her tribe of Wilis, force Albrecht to dance to his death.

In this brand-new production by Alexei Ratmansky for the Bolshoi Ballet, former director of the Bolshoi Ballet (2004-09) and now the artist in residence with American Ballet Theater, gives Giselle a refresh. 

To create this new version of Giselle, Ratmansky drew from several historic sources that include notations made in the 1860’s by the French ballet master Henri Justamant that were a combination of written notes and miniature drawings of the choreography, and notes scribbled on musical scores that he found in various Russian archives. The ballet, according to a review by Marina Harss for Dance Tabs, “is both familiar and new. Watching it on opening night and on the following evening, with different casts, was like seeing a faded painting regain its colors,” she said. 

Debuting in Moscow on November 21, 2019, this screening was captured live from the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow.

Week 5: January 27-February 2

Fertile Ground Festival of New Work and Groovin’ Greenhouse
January 31-February 8
Check the Groovin’ Greenhouse and Fertile Ground websites for locations and times

The Fertile Ground Festival of New Works and its dance-centric arm, Groovin’ Greenhouse (hosted by Polaris Dance Theatre), unfold in venues around town for 9-days. The performances feature new work in various stages of development, from the fully staged to workshops, in theater, comedy, dance and film, and everything else in between.

Groovin’ Greenhouse will be performed at Polaris Dance Theatre’s home theatre located at 1826 NW 18th. The choreographers and companies being presented there are: Polaris Dance Company, ELa FaLa Collective, Mark Koenigsberg and Sara Naegelin, Polaris Junior Company and NEO Youth Company, ELXR Dance Company, and Central Catholic Dance. Check the Groovin’ Greenhouse schedule for dates and times.

Independent Fertile Grounds dance productions

Interplay
Echo Theater Company 
January 31- February 9
Echo Theatre Company, 1515 SE 37th Avenue

Featuring dance, video, music, physical theatre, aerial expression, Shibari (Japanese rope bondage), and more, this mixed repetoire highlights the work of traditionally marginalized communities and will be sex and size positive. Each weekend will feature a different group of artists presenting 10-20 minute vignettes. To view these works is to explore what arises when several performance disciplines unite to produce an original piece of work.

Weekend A: Heavy Is The Head that Wears the Crown: Mental Health Memoirs of the Black Woman by Noelle Simone, Bad Grrls of Bellydance by Sasshole, self-titled Rip/Pull Effect, and We Belong Here by Echo Theater Company.

Weekend B: CITRINE by Joni Renee Whitworth, The Book of J by Sara Fay Goldman and Marc Schreiner, Textured by Flo Buddenbaum, Summer Olsson and Aurora Rupert, and We Belong Here by Echo Theater Company.

Junction
AWOL Dance Collective, push/FOLD, and Tempos Contemporary Circus 
January 31-February 2
A-WOL Performance Warehouse, 513 Northeast Schuyler StreetPortland

Performing together for the first time are aerial dance company A-WOL Dance Collective, contemporary dance company push/FOLD, and contemporary circus company Tempos Contemporary Circus. For this performance, each company was tasked worked with the concept of connectivity as their choreographic theme-the state or extent of being connected or interconnected

AWOL Dance Collective, ​is a non-profit arts organization with their own performance warehouse space in NE Portland that embodies the idea of “aerial without limits,”and believes that the arts build community and enhance the quality of life and in its various forms, fosters creativity, empowers individuals and brings people together.

push/FOLD, is the vision of composer-choreographer Samuel Hobbs, whose work fuses the power of his athletics and dance career with his professional practice in Osteopathic medicine. With a minimalistic visual design and Hobbs’ original sound scores, push/FOLD features momentum-based choreography and sculpturesque partnering that craft immersive moodscapes and virtuosic dance performance.

Tempos Contemporary Circus is an ensemble that combines dance, music, acrobatics, and physical theater to explore the connection between the vulnerability in ourselves and within our community.

Left: Subashini Ganesan (Photo by Intisar Abioto); right: Yashaswini Raghuram.

Listening to Silence
Collaborative choreography and performance by Subashini Ganesan and Yashaswini Raghuram
January 31-February 2
New Expressive Works, 819 SE Belmont Suite 2, located In the WYSE Building. (Use the building doors located on the South side of the building.)

In her new work, “Listening to Silence,” Portland-based Bharatanatyam dancer Subashini Ganesan, alongside Portland-based Bharanatayam/Odissi dancer Yashaswini Raghuram, explores the undefinable nature of silence through the writings of Rainer Maria Rilke, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and the Rig Veda poem, Nasadiya Suktam (10.129), which considers the origin of the universe and creation. The duet also examines contemporariness in relation to tradition, through construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction of the Bharatanatyam vocabulary and rhythm.

Ganesan is the Creative Laureate of Portland, the executive director of New Expressive Works, and was recently awarded the White Bird 2019 Community Engagement Award.

Raghuram is a professional Bharatanatyam and Odissi dancer and teacher, and performs internationally as the principal dancer and the assistant director of the Odissi Dance Company. 

***

Upcoming Performances

February 
January 31-February 8, Fertile Ground Festival of New Work and Groovin’ Greenhouse
February 2, Holy Goats!, Performance Works NW
February 5-9, Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor, White Bird
February 8-9, Alice in Wonderland, Eugene Ballet
February 10, Fall in Love with Flamenco, Hosted by Espacio Flamenco
February 12, Grupo Corpo, Presented by White Bird
February 14-15, Darvejon Jones Dance Ensemble, BodyVox Artist in Residence
February 14-16, Been Ready, Rejoice: Diaspora Dance Theater
February 15-23, The Sleeping Beauty, Oregon Ballet Theatre
February 21-22, Ten Tiny Dances/Corvallis
February 21-23, ORIGIN: Humble Beginnings, PDX Contemporary Ballet
February 22, Interplay, Eugene Ballet and The University of Oregon School of Music and Dance
February 22, Nrityotsava 2020, A Benefit Program for Kalakendra
February 23, Swan Lake, The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, Fathom Events
February 27-29, Cirque Alfonse, White Bird
February 28-March 7, Attention Everyone!, Presented by A-WOL Dance Collective
February 29, BodyVox on Tour in Medford, Oregon
February 29, Bal Utsav 2020, Hosted by Nartana Kuchipudi

March
March 5-7, Rennie Harris Funkedified, White Bird
March 7, Bootleggers Ball, BodyVox
March 6-8, Dragon and The Night Queen, Ballet Fantastique
March 13-15, Alembic Resident Artists Performance: Sarah Brahim, Maggie Heath, and Cat Ross, Performance Works NW
March 20-22, Since the First Sunrise/COMING HOME, Tracy Broyles
March 26-April 5, NINETEEN * TWENTY (world premiere), BodyVox and Chamber Music Northwest
March 29, Romeo and Juliet, The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, Fathom Events

April 
April 2-4, Camille A. Brown and Dancers, White Bird
April 4-5, Heaven and Earth, Eugene Ballet
April 9-12, Beautiful Decay, Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 15, ChangMu Dance Company, White Bird
April (dates TBA): Linda Austin & Allie Hankins ║ The Traveler & the Thief
April 19, A Taste of Dance, Chapel Theatre
April 19, Jewels, The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, Fathom Events
April 23, Drum Tao 2020
April 23-25, The Rite Of Spring, NW Dance Project
April 25-28, X-Posed, Polaris Dance Theatre
April 30-May 2, Contact Dance Film Festival, BodyVox

May
May 1-2, Contact Dance Film Festival, BodyVox
May 3: Holy Goats!Plus, Performance Works NW
May 8-9, Current/Classic, The Portland Ballet
May 8-10, Luna Mistica, Ballet Fantastique
May 12-13, Dance Theatre of Harlem, White Bird
May 15 – 17, Junior Artist Generator, BodyVox
May 22-24, ARISE: What Dance Could Be, PDX Contemporary Ballet
May 29-31, Portland Tap Dance Festival, Portland Tap Alliance

 June
June 5-13, The Americans 2.0, Oregon Ballet Theatre
June 11-13, Summer Splendors, NW Dance Project
June 12-14, Up Close, The Portland Ballet


Going, going, gone: 2019 in review

A look back at the ups and downs and curious side trips of the year on Oregon's cultural front

What a year, right? End of the teens, start of the ’20s, and who knows if they’ll rattle or roar?

But today we’re looking back, not ahead. Let’s start by getting the big bad news out of the way. One thing’s sure in Oregon arts and cultural circles: 2019’s the year the state’s once-fabled craft scene took another staggering punch square on the chin. The death rattles of the Oregon College of Art and Craft – chronicled deeply by ArtsWatch’s Barry Johnson in a barrage of news stories and analyses spiced with a couple of sharp commentaries, Democracy and the arts and How dead is OCAC? – were heard far and wide, and the college’s demise unleashed a flood of anger and lament.

The crashing and burning of the venerable craft college early in the year followed the equally drawn-out and lamented closure of Portland’s nationally noted Museum of Contemporary Craft in 2016, leaving the state’s lively crafts scene without its two major institutions. In both cases the sense that irreversible decisions were being made with scant public input, let alone input from crafters themselves, left much of the craft community fuming. When, after the closure, ArtsWatch published a piece by the craft college’s former president, Denise Mullen, the fury hit the fan with an outpouring of outraged online comments, most by anonymous posters with obvious connections to the school.

Vanessa German, no admittance apply at office, 2016, mixed media assemblage, 70 x 30 x 16 inches, in the opening exhibit of the new Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at Portland State University. Photo: Spencer Rutledge, courtesy PSU

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MusicWatch Weekly: women’s works

Oregon orchestras play music by female composers, and other January musical highlights

One of the many problems with the classical music establishment’s (finally) waning historical museum mentality is that if its artistic leaders aren’t careful, they can wind up reproducing yesterday’s regressive social attitudes on today’s stages. Long before classical music had its own #metoo revelations (one survivor being the now-wife of Oregon Symphony music director Carlos Kalmar), the institution had a long and inglorious history of sexism. Even in the supposedly liberated 20th and 21st centuries, female composers faced institutional discrimination, especially from orchestras.

Hagner plays Chin with the Oregon Symphony

• Yet still it persists. The only work by a female composer on this year’s Oregon Symphony classical season is this weekend’s atmospheric Violin Concerto by Korea-born, Berlin-based composer Unsuk Chin, which won classical music’s most lucrative prize in 2004. Deploying nearly two dozen varied percussion instruments, string harmonics, even a harpsichord, it ranges from surprisingly delicate to skittering to intriguingly colorful then ratchets up the intensity. Rising star violinist Viviane Hagner stars. Naturally, the program also contains symphonies by dead European males: Beethoven’s Haydn-esque first and Schumann’s uplifting third.
Saturday-Monday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland.

• As Thursday’s Eugene Symphony concert demonstrates, women have been writing great symphonic music for decades. Last time, the orchestra featured new music from one of today’s finest composers of any gender, Jennifer Higdon. This week’s program opens with the rollicking 1943 Overture for Symphonic Orchestra by Polish composer Grażyna Bacewicz. She was born in 1909, but it’s only recently that her music has begun to be widely played outside Poland. Fortunately for us, ESO music director Francesco Lecce-Chong is a fan. It’s great to see both major Oregon orchestras playing music by female composers this week. Why not every week?

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ArtsWatch’s hit parade 2018

2018 in Review, Part 1: Readers' choice. A look back at Oregon ArtsWatch's most read and shared stories of the year

When we say “hit parade,” that’s what we mean. In the first of a series of stories looking back on the highlights of 2018, these 25 tales were ArtsWatch’s most popular of the year, by the numbers: the most read, or the most shared on social media, or both. From photo features to artist conversations to reviews to personal essays to news stories, these are the pieces that most resounded with you, our readers. These 25 stories amount to roughly two a month, out of more than 50 in the average month: By New Year’s Eve we’ll have published roughly 650 stories, on all sorts of cultural topics, during the 2018 calendar year.

 



Like ArtsWatch? Help us out.

We couldn’t bring you the stories we bring without your support, which is what keeps us going. Oregon ArtsWatch is a nonprofit journalism publication, with no pay wall: Everything we publish is free for the reading. We can offer this public service thanks to generous gifts from foundations, public cultural organizations, and you, our readers. As the year draws to a close, please help us keep the stories coming. It’s easy:



 

And now, the 25 of 2018, listed chronologically:

 


 

Legendary jazz drummer Mel Brown. Photo: K.B. Dixon

In the Frame: Eleven Men

Jan. 2: Writer and photographer K.B. Dixon’s photo essay looks graphically at a group of men who have helped shape Portland’s cultural and creative life, among them jazz drummer Mel Brown, the late Claymation pioneer Will Vinton, Powell’s Books owner Michael Powell, gallerist Charles Froelick, and the legendary female impersonator Walter Cole, better known as Darcelle. Dixon would later profile eleven woman cultural leaders, a feature that is also among 2018’s most-read.

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Portland Mini Musical Festival review: brief encounters

Fertile Ground Festival musical showcases benefit from focus on relationships

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 this year’s edition of the Portland Mini Musical Festival at downtown Portland’s Brunish theater managed that difficult trick, mostly by focusing on a single relationship each.

Raimer and Carver in ‘Work Friends.’ Photo: David Kinder.

Work Friends, the most thoroughly successful of the lot, showed how even in just a few minutes, deftly drawn characters can evoke real sympathy — all while singing and dancing. Aubrey Jessen’s touching and hilarious office bromance earned genuine guffaws for its beautifully blocked cubicle dance, Jessen and composer Mont Chris Hubbard’s uproarious lyrics, and a winning, multifaceted (singing/dancing/acting) performance by Collin Carver. Kurt Raimer and Courtney Freed also excelled. An office worker longs for a closer connection to his charismatic but oblivious office mate, but doesn’t know how to make it happen— until an eavesdropping colleague stages a welcome intervention.

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‘Revelations’ review: waiting for the end of the world

Fertile Ground reading reveals a funny, promising and ultimately poignant depiction of the last judgment 

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 for her home baked oatmeal cookies… after she fed us a conservative Christian bible-thumping lesson. Portraying God’s grief, wailing like a Greek war widow in a rich Billie Holiday voice, she embarrassed my Greek pantheist soul, which detests maudlin attempts to manipulate human emotion. So how did James Y. Kim make it work?

I saw Kim’s Revelations in a staged reading at Portland’s Fertile Ground Festival before I read the script. While the whole thing shoulda been a Wham! Bam! Holy Shit! kinda ride, it did have a gut punch of a climax I did not see coming despite my years with Mrs. Fey. It doesn’t matter whether you’re familiar with Fundamentalist Christianity or if you’re against any hierarchical monotheistic, male portrayal of a Universal Ruler, I think David Loftus (playing the Supreme Being) and Kim totally shocked us and moved us to pity in a performance that felt like Kim mined himself hard to dig up this feeling of grief and — unlike Mrs. Fey — made me feel it!

A scene from ‘Revelations’ at Fertile Ground Festival.

The ride there felt like a slog, though. Five beings are called upon to end the world: Michael and Gabriel – Archangels, an angel representing the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, the chief Seraphim and John the Revelator are summoned to this committee meeting. No, we are not in hell.

Kim’s character descriptions include:
Michael Male. Archangel. The big swinging dick in heaven.
Seraphim Female. The most powerful angel in heaven. Charming exterior, charred interior.

A contentious committee meeting of five characters (with emphasis on characters as in the two delicious descriptions above), lobbying for their own agendas for how to End The World, should feel like the opening bell of the NY Stock Exchange: Loud, frenetic, Type-AAAA, adrenaline-anxious even if we don’t yet know what’s at stake. This is chamber music, a five-voice Shostakovich Scherzo. Frantic, ominous, perfectly timed, tumbling down. Those kinds of movements require memorization, LOTS of rehearsal to sync up entrances, knowing when to butt in, and practicing practicing practicing until it feels sturdy and repeatable.

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