Lisa Loomer

ArtsWatch Weekly: a Tempest and an operatic pot shot

A look at the week that was in Oregon arts. A glimpse ahead at the week that's going to be.

WELL, SHOOT. The whole thing explodes into a duel, of course, but before that there’s a tangled romance, and a cad’s carelessness, and a whole lot of glorious singing, and, well, why not a wintry tale for a midsummer opera? Portland Opera moves into the cozier confines of the Newmark Theatre beginning Friday night for its new production of Eugene Onegin, Tchaikovsky’s lyric opera based on Pushkin’s verse novel, and things are looking promising – if not for Onegin himself, who lives to deeply regret shooting his best friend, Lensky, then for the audience. ArtsWatch’s Christa Morletti McIntyre interviewed stage director Kevin Newbury, fresh off his acclaimed world-premiere production of Fellow Travelers at Cincinnati Opera, and discovered his plan to create an Onegin that will resonate with his fellow Gen Xers. Newbury has reset the late 19th century tale in the 1980s, around the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union and crumbling of the Berlin Wall. The “political and nuclear-threatening war of grudges” between East and West, McIntyre writes, helped “to unpack the meanings and individual lives impacted by this new kind of war, which was as visually stunning as it was oppressive and terrorizing.” All that, of course, plus some gorgeous music.

Ilya Repin, "Eugene Onegin and Vladimir Lensky's Duel," 1899, watercolor, white lead and India ink on paper, Pushkin Museum, Moscow/Wikimedia Commons

Ilya Repin, “Eugene Onegin and Vladimir Lensky’s Duel,” 1899, watercolor, white lead and India ink on paper, Pushkin Museum, Moscow/Wikimedia Commons

 


 

JULY’S FIRST THURSDAY IS THIS WEEK, and there is considerable to look forward to the monthly gallery walk. (Some galleries open shows on Last Friday or First Friday or according to their own schedules). A few we have our eye on: J.D. Perkin’s Island, an exhibit of the Portland sculptor’s fascinating-looking contemporary busts, coupled with some selected works by the late, great Robert Colescott, at Laura Russo Gallery; Sarah Siestreem’s Winter Work paintings, with Cynthia Mosser’s Beach Body, at Augen; the all-star anniversary lineup at PDX Contemporary in A Stand of Pine in a Tilled Field: 21 Years at PDX; the stylized figures and settings of R. Keaney Rathbun’s Memory and Stone, at Waterstone; and Blackfish’s annual Recent Graduates Exhibition of work from Oregon’s college and university art departments. Also, the Portland Biennial, an ambitious overview of work by 34 contemporary artists, opens Saturday at Disjecta, and should be well worth a long look. And on the north coast in Astoria, K.B. Dixon’s 32 Faces, his black-and-white environmental portraits of well-known Oregon artists in their elements, opens Saturday. ArtsWatch wrote about the exhibit when it opened at Michael Parsons Fine Art in Portland in February.

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Living history: ‘Roe’ in Ashland

Watching Lisa Loomer's play about politics and abortion in an era of shifting restrictions and loyalties

By SUZI STEFFEN

If you don’t go see Lisa Loomer’s new play Roe at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, I predict that you’ll be seeing it soon elsewhere, perhaps many elsewheres.

That’s because the subject of Roe is topical (when will it not be?), and the play is mostly enjoyable as a piece of theater. It happens to have strong roles for several women, a rarity among plays old and new alike, along with a satisfyingly obvious source of conflict, embodied in the second act by a physical space shared by an abortion-providing women’s health clinic and an office of the anti-abortion direct action group Operation Rescue.

As I write this review, the Supreme Court of the United States has just ruled on Whole Woman’s Health et al. v. Hellerstadt (which does not trip off the tongue as does Roe v. Wade, of course), another case that got to the SCOTUS from Texas. Whole Woman concerns several Texas laws that attempted to curtail almost to nothing any possibility for health clinics to perform abortions for any women in that massive,  massively populated state.

A major Roe v. Wade anniversary puts Norma McCorvey (Sara Bruner) and Sarah Weddington (Sarah Jane Agnew) back in the public eye. Photo: Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

A major Roe v. Wade anniversary puts Norma McCorvey (Sara Bruner) and Sarah Weddington (Sarah Jane Agnew) back in the public eye. Photo: Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

A quick check of the Guttmacher Institute shows that all 50 states – Oregonians happen to live in the least restrictive state, but our state does allow individuals and private medical facilities to refuse to perform abortions – have policies and laws restricting abortion access in a variety of ways, for a variety of reasons.

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