Portland’s 2012 Fall Arts Preview
It’s that time of year again when the Portland sunshine retreats for nine months and the winter activities begin indoors! Below is a preview of what will be happening in our lovely city courtesy of the Willamette Week. So grab a hot chocolate, a pal, and go see one of these events.
The Body of an American The title of Dan O’Brien’s play references a photograph of a dead American soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu. War journalist Paul Watson won a Pulitzer Prize for that 1993 shot, but it haunted him long after the shutter snapped. O’Brien’s play, receiving its world premiere at Portland Center Stage, is both a portrait of Watson and a story of the relationship between the two men as they bear witness and seek absolution. At the helm of this promising production is ambitious risk-taker Bill Rauch, artistic director of Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Gerding Theater, 128 NW 11th Ave., 445-3700, pcs.org. 7:30 pm Tuesdays-Sundays, 2 pm Sundays, noon select Thursdays, Oct. 2-Nov. 11.
“Master Harold”…and the Boys Profile Theatre produces a full slate of plays by a different playwright each year, devoting this season to Athol Fugard, a South African dramatist known for political, persuasive plays about apartheid. “Master Harold” is a semi-autobiographical work about three friends—one white, two black—grappling with the tangles of bigotry and institutionalized racism in 1950s South Africa. Director Jane Unger’s strong cast includes Bobby Bermea, who gave a stirring performance in Portland Playhouse’s Brother/Sister Plays last season. Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont St., 242-0080, profiletheatre.org. Oct. 3-Oct. 28.
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson In this election year, Portland Playhouse looks back on American political history—way back. The company stages its first musical, an emo-rock tale about our seventh president, the man behind the Trail of Tears. Heavy on narcissistic numbers and oversexed characters, this is populist politics squeezed into a pair of skinny jeans. Expect brassy (but not irrelevant) relief from contemporary political muck—The New York Times said Bloody Bloody “presents a wild and woolly chapter in American history that feels anything but distant.” Portland Playhouse, 602 NE Prescott St., 488-5822, portlandplayhouse.org. Oct. 11-Nov. 11.
Body Awareness Young playwright Annie Baker has a good thing going. She’s a writer of delicate but probing works, quiet plays that have a way of sneaking up on you. Artists Rep produced her Obie-Award winning Circle Mirror Transformation last season, and this fall CoHo Productions will stage her play about a Body Awareness Week at a fictional Vermont college. The comedy, which Time Out New York called “marvelously deft and humane,” explores sexuality and all its pain and humor. CoHo Theater, 2257 NW Raleigh St., 205-0715, cohoproductions.org. 7:30 pm Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 pm Sundays, Oct. 18-Nov. 10. $20-$25, Thursdays are pay-what-you-can.
The Homecoming Never a company to shy away from a challenge, Defunkt Theatre opens its 13th season with Harold Pinter’s enigmatic play about a son who brings his American wife to meet his working-class family in North London. The Tony Award-winning drama, described by critic John Lahr as “both a family romance and a turf war,” exposes thorny issues of morality, sex and violence. Paul Angelo directs. Back Door Theater, 4319 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 418-2960, defunktheatre.com. 8 pm Thursdays-Sundays, Oct. 12-Nov. 17. $15-$20, Thursdays are pay-what-you-can.
That Hopey Changey Thing Third Rail Repertory resurrects the words of Sarah Palin (she coined the play’s title phrase) with this Richard Nelson work, set on election day 2010. It’s the first in a planned cycle of four plays about the Apple family, a clan of devoted Democrats exploring the shifting currents of politics and relationships. Third Rail, one of just two theaters in the country to tackle the cycle, pulls out a top-notch cast for this first installment: Bruce Burkhartsmeier, Maureen Porter and Mike O’Connell, among others. Winningstad Theatre, Portland Center for the Performing Arts, 1111 SW Broadway, 235-1101, thirdrailrep.org. 7:30 pm Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 pm Sundays, Oct. 5-28. $22.25-$41.25.
Andrea Schwartz-Feit Andrea Schwartz-Feit’s wax-based paintings gain a fresh freedom in her latest body of work. For years, the artist used tightly controlled grids to depict abstract patterns and natural scenes in twinkly blocks of color. Now, she has deep-sixed the grid and unleashed a gift for flowing gesture. Most of her forms are ovals that loop up, down, over and around, in patterns that variously resemble trees, flowers, chain link and other natural and human-made objects. Light-hearted, even dainty, in their compositions despite their heavy grayscale palette, the paintings make thrifty use of negative space and subtly textured surfaces. Butters Gallery, 520 NW Davis St., 248-9378. Oct. 4-29.
Portland Art Museum: The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece Remember the classical curves of the Venus de Milo statue? The ripped abs and tight pecs of the Kouros? These ideals of Western beauty were brought to us by ancient Greece in all its glory, and while those specific pieces are not included in The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece, scores of other important artifacts are: statues, armor, vases and more. This traveling exhibition, which originated at the British Museum, touches down in Portland to remind us of the contours and proportions that have stood as paragons of physical perfection through the millennia and still retain their ability to inspire, ennoble and, yes, even arouse us. 1219 SW Park Ave., 226-2811. Oct. 6-Jan. 6. Rene Rickabaugh and
Francis Celentano The double bill of Rene Rickabaugh and Francis Celentano offers an invigorating study in contrasts. Rickabaugh’s earth-toned, hyper-detailed still lifes could not be more dissimilar in subject matter or technique from Celentano’s bold op-art abstractions, with their dizzying patterns and circus-ready color palette. The works are apt to counterbalance one another with a dynamic tension between fastidiousness and bravado. Laura Russo Gallery, 805 NW 21st Ave., 226-2754. Oct. 4-27.
MK Guth “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” unless you’re artist MK Guth. Guth turned her 20-day residency at Las Vegas’ Cosmopolitan Hotel into a photographic and sculptural exhibition destined for the bluest of Portland’s blue-chip galleries, Elizabeth Leach. A 2008 exhibitor at New York City’s prestigious Whitney Biennial, Guth is one of the Northwest’s most respected conceptual artists. Like nearly all of her past shows, this one promises to mix populist appeal with a winning sense of whimsy. Elizabeth Leach Gallery, 417 NW 9th Ave., 224-0844. Oct. 4-Nov. 24.
Stephen Stubbs and Pacific Musicworks with Les Voix Baroques Some of North America’s most accomplished early music experts perform one of the first masterpieces of the Baroque era, Claudio Monteverdi’s stirring 1610 choral orchestral classic, Vespers of the Sacred Virgin. Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 147 NW 19th Ave., 222-6000. 5 pm Sunday, Oct. 21. $26-$54.
Cappella Romana and Portland Baroque Orchestra Two of the Northwest’s finest historically informed ensembles perform popular masterpieces by the three of the greatest Baroque composers: Handel, Vivaldi and J.S. Bach. First Baptist Church, Southwest 12th Avenue and Taylor Street. 7:30 pm Friday-Saturday, Oct. 12-13. Kaul Auditorium, Reed College, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd., 222-6000. 3 pm Sunday, Oct. 14. $18-$49.
Opera Theater Oregon With help from the protean voices of Willamette Radio Theater, the plucky indie opera group revives one of the first operas ever created for radio, American composer Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief. The production will be staged with the audience in a 1939 radio studio (contrived by Portland all-classical radio station KQAC), and will include a show-within-a-show plotline, an original short film, a live score performed by a chamber ensemble and more. Mission Theater, 1624 NW Glisan St., 314-0256. 7:30 pm Friday-Saturday and Thursday-Friday, Oct. 5-6, 11-12, and 2 pm Sunday, Oct. 7. Ticket prices not available at press time.
White Bird Portland dance presenter White Bird celebrates its 15th season with two choreographers who’ve made headlines recently. Former New York City Ballet principal dancer Benjamin Millepied—better known as Mr. Natalie Portman—strikes out on his own with the L.A. Dance Project, a company whose collective repertoire spans Nijinska to Petronio. The other will be 1964’s Winterbranch, from modern legend Merce Cunningham. (7:30 pm Wednesday, Sept. 26, at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall). Then there’s Akram Khan, whose choreographic tribute to victims of terrorism you didn’t see during the Olympics opening ceremonies—if you were watching in the States, that is, as NBC supplanted it with Ryan Seacrest’s Michael Phelps interview. The Akram Khan Company brings Vertical Road, an evening-length work inspired by Sufi tradition and the Persian poet Rumi. Whirling dervishes may come to mind in this propulsive and mesmerizing work. Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, whitebird.org. 7:30 pm Wednesday, Oct. 17.
A Portland Circus on Cage’s Silence It’s easy enough to play six degrees of separation in the dance world: About the time White Bird shares work by Merce Cunningham—and Trisha Brown, a Cunningham acolyte—Portland choreographer Linda Austin joins in a 100th birthday party for Cunningham’s longtime musical collaborator. Austin and sound artist Seth Nehil have collaborated on A Portland Circus on Cage’s Silence, an hourlong movement and music performance supplementing the Pacific Northwest College of Art exhibit Happy Birthday: A Celebration of Chance and Listening. Cunningham and Cage came to be known for “chance dance,” in which random events such as the roll of a dice could shape movement and music phrases. Austin and Nehil, like their inspirations, are working separately. The first time their creations will merge will be in the PNCA Commons, where 16 dancers, 10 musicians and a poet will wander among viewers, on balconies and in hallways. An oversized projected stopwatch will coordinate the performers to the score. A who’s who of local contemporary dancers—including Mike Barber, Tere Mathern and Carla Mann—are slated to perform. PNCA Main Campus, 1241 NW Johnson St., 226-4391. 7 pm Wednesday, Oct. 3.
Northwest Dance Project If Akram Khan didn’t quite get his full due at this summer’s Olympics, Portland’s Northwest Dance Project certainly did. The young company jetted off to London to dance Ihsan Rustem’s State of Matter at the 2012 Cultural Olympiad after winning the 2012 Sadler’s Wells Global Dance Competition with it. At its “New Now Wow” program this fall, NWDP offers three contemporary-dance world premieres, including Rustem’s elegant new work for sets of partners, Mother Tongue, and one each from New York-based Gregory Dolbashian and Brazilian dancemaker Alex Soares, winners of the company’s annual Pretty Creatives International Choreographic Competition. Lincoln Hall, Portland State University, 1633 SW Park Ave., 725-3421. 7:30 pm Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 4-6. $32-$39.
Oregon Ballet Theatre The Olympics also factor into Oregon Ballet Theatre’s season opener, Body Beautiful, a collaboration with the Portland Art Museum. While the museum boasts the U.S. premiere of The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece, a British Museum sculpture collection shown in London during this summer’s Olympic Games, OBT offers a program celebrating the beauty of the human form in motion. Apollo, Balanchine’s first collaboration with Stravinksy, celebrates the god and his muses with sculptural neoclassical movement; Kent Stowell takes on the tragic love story of Orpheus and Eurydice with the pas de deux Orpheus Portrait, and William Forsythe’s lean and rhythmic ensemble piece shows off dancers for the physically gifted beings they are. Artistic Director Christopher Stowell and artist John Grade collaborate on the final work, a world premiere called Ekho. Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St., 248-4335. 7:30 pm Saturday, Oct. 13; 2 pm Sunday, Oct. 14; 7:30 pm Friday-Saturday, Oct. 19-20. $25-$150.
Lane Hunter Dance Shortly before Fox Searchlight releases the biopic Hitchcock, Portland dance-theater company Lane Hunter Dance revives its dance interpretation of Psycho, based on Hitchock’s film and the Robert Bloch novel that inspired it. Hunter and Laura Haney play Norman Bates and Mary Crane. They’ll be joined by Polaris dancers Krista Loveless and Mike Dawson and Broadway dancer Brad Hampton in the piece, which blends dance and video in a seasonally appropriate choreographic chiller. World Trade Center Auditorium, 121 SW Salmon St., 464-8688. 7:30 pm Wednesday-Saturday, Oct. 17-20. $25.
Dangerous Desires: Film Noir Classics Journey into the dark heart of cinema with NW Film Center’s retrospective of rare film noirs. Among the 35 mm prints screening during this two-week celebration of dames, detectives and dirty dealings: 1951’s The Prowler (7 pm Friday, Sept. 14), the story of a crooked cop’s twisted obsession with a lonely housewife, written the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo; The Blue Dahlia (9 pm Friday, Sept. 22), which earned legendary crime writer Raymond Chandler an Oscar nomination in 1946; and 1954’s ultra-rare Loophole (5 pm Sunday, Sept. 30), described as “a B-movie version of Les Miserables.” NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium, 1219 SW Park Ave., 221-1156. Sept. 14-30. Multiple showtimes. See nwfilm.org for a complete schedule.
Jackpot Records Film & Music Festival Portland institution Jackpot Records hosts its ninth annual film festival, this year featuring documentaries on unsung heroes ranging from Southern California punk legends the Circle Jerks to soulman Charles Bradley to gay icon Jobriath, once referred to as “the American Bowie.” Bagdad Theater, 3702 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 236-9234. 8 pm Monday-Friday, Sept. 24-28. $5. See jackpotfilmfest.wordpress.com for a complete schedule.
Greg Palast Fed up with our Monopoly-style government where the ultra rich simply purchase the politicians and policies that suit them, investigative journalist Greg Palast is indicting the whole process with his new book, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps. Partnering with political cartoonist Ted Rall, Palast is going after small-time abusers of voting laws and the Bond villains of democracy, intending to “name and shame” them all. The reading will also serve as a fundraiser for community radio station KBOO. Clinton Street Theater, 2522 SE Clinton St., 238-5588. 7:30 pm Wednesday, Sept. 26. $35 (includes copy of book).
Them’s Fightin’ Words Celebrating all things gritty and kinda badass—like strippers with black eyes—the new reading series Them’s Fightin’ Words, curated and hosted by local slam poet Johnny No Bueno, brings together local authors and regular working stiffs to share their writing. After kicking off the evening with an open mic, this month’s reading will host writer and artist Matty Byloos (Don’t Smell the Floss) and Robert Lashley (Songs My City Taught Me). Don’t show up wearing Izod. St. Johns Booksellers, 8622 N Lombard St., 283-0032. 7 pm Friday, Sept. 28. Free. Cokie Roberts You’ll no doubt recognize her soothingly authoritative tone as the senior news analyst for National Public Radio. Cokie Roberts’ extensive 40-plus-year journalism career has garnered her the highest praise, including three Emmy awards and induction into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame. Speaking as part of the Voices lecture series, which hosts some of the most accomplished women of the professional world, Roberts will speak about an insider’s view of Washington, D.C. Tickets for the simulcast (which includes the reception) are still available. First Congregational Church, 1126 SW Park Ave., voicesinc.com. 7:30 pm Wednesday, Oct. 3. $39.
David Byrne with Carrie Brownstein
David Byrne knows a little about music, having served as a founding member and principal songwriter of the Talking Heads. He’s won a Grammy, a Golden Globe and an Oscar, been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and is now releasing a book, How Music Works. Joining him to discuss his journey through music and passion for the craft will be Portland mascot Carrie Brownstein. Bagdad Theater, 3702 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 236-9234. 7 pm Friday, Oct. 19. $34 (includes copy of book).
Barbara Kingsolver Anyone who has ever read the devastatingly beautiful writing of Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible, Animal Dreams, The Lacuna) understands the magic quality that words can acquire in the hands of a true master. Hear the author herself in conversation with Portland’s Literary Arts Director Andrew Proctor as part of the organization’s lecture series. Tickets are only available with a subscription, but with other upcoming guests including Jonathan Franzen and Stephen Greenblatt, it’ll be worth it. Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, 248-4335. 7:30 pm Friday, Nov. 16. $75.
Photo Credit: WHITE BIRD – IMAGE: Benjamin Millepied