The Last Bell Rings for You Is A Little Kooky, But Just Go With It

It’s a fine line between chaos and order, individuality and conformity, treasure and trash. However, it’s also a fine line between art and kooky nonsense, and Performance Works NorthWest co-founder and director Linda Austin’s current performance project dances gleefully on both sides.

The second installment in a triptych of performances from Austin’s multiyear (Un)Made project, The Last Bell Rings for You, assembles a cast of more than 25 to shuffle, roll, shimmy, saunter and explore the small warehouse space of Shaking the Tree Theatre.

Austin’s core collaborators are joined by 18 members of the community with varying levels of experience who were given one week to rehearse. The resulting performance unfolds organically like a creeping vine—it doesn’t necessarily need to know where it’s going to look beautiful.

The performers are given free rein in the space, alternately flitting from spot to spot like butterflies before falling into marching band-style formations and quickly dissolving again. Every shuffle of shoe and slap of foot becomes part of the hypnotic rhythm of the sparse and primarily sound-based score. Ordinary objects—a basketball, an empty box, a potted plant—are examined as if alien artifacts or holy relics. Singing and vocalizing ranges from silly to haunting, and light and shadow become performers in and of themselves with the help of lighting designer and PWNW co-founder Jeff Forbes.

The purpose of the (Un)Made series is equally open-ended, intended by Austin to exist as both “experiential inquiry and staged performance.” It would be easy to ascribe meaning to each abstract movement, from our struggle between solitude and connection, to the arbitrary importance we imbue into everyday objects. But that would miss the point, or rather, force one where it is simply unnecessary. Like so many millions of lives lived every day in a web of the ephemeral, the beauty is in the being. Just enjoy the kooky nonsense. PENELOPE BASS.

SEE IT: The Last Bell Rings for You plays at Shaking the Tree Theatre, 823 SE Grant St., 8 pm Thursday-Sunday, through Nov. 20. $15.

Portland’s Top Dance Importer Is Bringing Diversity to the Forefront with “BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play”

White Bird, the West Coast’s only all-dance presentation company, just announced that the forthcoming season will have one cohesive theme: diversity.

This is new. Worldliness may seem inbred in a company that has, since its inception in 1997, built a reputation for headhunting international troupes like the Batsheva Dance Company and Grupo Corpo, which might not otherwise make it to Portland from their homelands in Israel and Brazil, respectively. As Portland’s top importer of high-profile dance acts, White Bird’s lineup consistently packs venues like Lincoln Performance Hall and Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. But this year, the company is calling out diversity as its mission and highlighting three African-American choreographers.

“Recent events make it clear to me that now more than ever, we must all speak our truths,” says Camille A. Brown, the New York choreographer kicking off White Bird’s season with her most recent work. BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play is a live-scored, explosive piece about what it means to discover your voice as a young, black female. This is the second in Brown’s Identity Trilogy, following 2013’s Mr. Tol E. Rance and an upcoming dance exploring the naissance of hip-hop, called Ink. Although BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play is personal, inspired by Brown’s own childhood experiences, she knows that bringing a piece about race to a city known as one of the whitest in the nation is a political statement in itself.

BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play’s content isn’t ‘political,’” says Brown. “It’s about childhood and innocence. But because this story is being told by black female bodies it automatically makes it political.”

Audiences across the country are looking to pieces like Brown’s to understand how to talk about these more controversial issues. The reality is that this is not an etiquette guidebook for white people. “My hope through this piece is that black girls see their nuances, something we rarely see in the media. We are all things,” says Brown. “The question of whether it’s an artist’s obligation to tell those stories has come up a lot. I don’t think so. Choreographers should be able to create the work they choose.”

For Brown, it’s all about the language. BothBLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play and her forthcoming show about the birth of hip-hop try to capture language in dance form to show how African-American communities can, in Brown’s words, “speak their truths.”

“The racial tensions in the United States call for our greatest attention and for all of us to tell our stories exactly how we want,” says Brown. “I am pulling from African tradition and my own experiences in order to create the movement language.”

Brown says she’s curious to see who joins the conversation in Portland. “Bravo to Paul [King] and Walter [Jaffe, White Bird’s co-founders] for challenging conversations about race in a city that holds historic tension on the subject,” says Brown.

At performances in other cities, the audience response has been vocal: “A black woman stood up and said, ‘This piece affirms that it’s good to be me!’” says Brown. “Then, she proceeded to take her wig off.”

BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play is at the Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, 503-248-4335. 7:30 pm Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 13-15. $26-$68.

Portland’s Biggest, Multi-Genre Arts Festival Kicks Off This Week

In Portland, there is a time and place(s) for time-based art. The biggest annual arts festival all year starts this Thursday, taking over venues across the city with live dance and theater, experiemental music, immersive visual arts, and, perhaps best of all, late-night parties with a great bar and lots of pfascinating people to watch. Here are our picks for the top events of TBA:2016. The time is now.

The Art of Luv (Part 1): Elliot by Royal Osiris Karaoke Ensemble

Remember that psychopathic dude who couldn’t get laid, so he shot a bunch of people on the UCSB campus back in 2014? New York-based multimedia artists Royal Osiris Karaoke Ensemble unpack this for you by responding to this “wound to the body of Love” with an experimental ritual performance that is, at times, surprisingly hilarious. But rest assured, the darkness sets in. Reed College Black Box Theatre, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd. 7 pm Saturday-Tuesday, Sept. 10-13. $25.

Blind Cinema

We don’t give kids enough credit. During a film screening at the Hollywood Theatre, adult attendees are blindfolded with rows of schoolchildren standing behind them, narrating the film. But this event is deeper than you think: it’s barely imposing on children—instead, it’s exploiting the limitations of human language. Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy Blvd. 3 pm Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 10-11, 7 pm Friday, Sept. 16, 3 pm Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 17-18. $20-40.

Critical Mascara: A Post-Realness Drag Extravaganza

The no. 1 queer event of the social calendar is back, uniting MC Pepper Pepper with some of Portland’s liveliest (and best-dressed) partygoers. The self-proclaimed “A Post-Realness Drag Extravaganza” is first-and-foremost a drag show, but with dope music and dance, it’s also a safe space that embraces both identity and absurdity. PICA at Hancock, 15 NE Hancock St. 10:30 pm Saturday, Sept. 10. $10.

d’aprés une histoire vraie

Booking French artist Christian Rizzo and his all-male ten-member touring performers was no walk in the park. Imagine all the visas. However, this physical, visceral final product was inspired by Christian’s time in Istanbul, where he researched masculinity in traditional dance. Here, you’ll see a sensuality that is surprisingly traditional. PSU’s Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave., Room 75. 6:30 pm Friday-Saturday, Sept. 9-10. $25.

Distance is Not Separation: Section 1. Selective Seeing: Corners, You, Section 2: Painted Images, Colored Symbols: She’s Hard, She Q

This timely performance, almost a series of cultural flashbacks, touches upon the black femme body and its characterization through sports, societal roles (such as occupations), and even language. Keijaun Thomas utilizes live performances and multimedia installations to explore how black identity ties in with black personhood. PICA at Hancock, 15 NE Hancock St. 8:30 pm Sunday-Tuesday, Sept. 11-13. Free.

Don’t Get Me Started

Still think most people wouldn’t spout half of their opinions IRL if they weren’t hiding behind a keyboard? “Don’t Get Me Started” brings trolls to life by rallying a group of local artists, activists, comedians and everyday citizens who will utilize the stage to discuss all the pressing local issues in as uncensored a fashion as pos sible. Expect some New Portland vs. Old Portland banter. PICA at Hancock, 15 NE Hancock St. 10:30 pm Monday, Sept. 12. $10.

Narcissistic Advance

Narcissister is so much more than a pretty mask. The Brooklyn-based artist and performer supplies her audiences with a public intervention by highlighting the patriarchal portrayal of the female body through mixed media, live performances, and even pornography. Make sure to see her delve into her art as part of TBA’s Field Guide sessions. PICA at Hancock, 15 NE Hancock St., 8:30 pm Friday-Saturday, Sept. 9-10. $20.

New Faithful Disco

What does it mean to be a queer woman? Thanks to L.A.-based choreographer Meg Wolfe, a “power-trio” of queer dancers is going to explore this topic through an original interpretative dance piece. Highlights: there will be lots of disco music, as much of the soundtrack is sampled from the ‘70s. Winningstad Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, 6:30 pm Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 10-11. $25.

Portland Museum of Modern Art: Houseguest

Finally, it happened: a pop-up art museum. Libby Werbel is an artist who wanted to create her own contemporary art museum – and for two days, you can witness its visual art installations and performances in the heart of PDX. This tiny, underground gallery is spontaneous but pertinent. (Currently, Portland doesn’t have an established major contemporary art museum of its own.) Pioneer Courthouse Square, 701 SW 6th Ave. 11 am-7 pm Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 10-11. Performances begin at 1 pm. Free.

Portland Museum of Modern Art At The Works

Everything and anything goes during this intimate first-time collaboration between PICA and the Portland Art Museum. Mingle with reggae, house music, spirituals and Afrofuturist themes. Dynasty Handbag will add some absurdist humor and Strange Babes will DJ, so that your feet might levitate off the floor. PICA at Hancock, 15 NE Hancock St. 10:30 pm Friday, Sept. 9. $10.

A Smeary Spot

This science fiction-inspired video installation showcases our relationship with the sun as an “organizing principle of time, place, and ego.” Expect the juxtaposition of dreamy film from the deserts of Southern Utah with black box theater performers citing existential texts. Like the sun itself, the performers will express transition through stylized dance. Now there’s a metaphor. PICA at Hancock, 15 NE Hancock St. Installation: Noon-5:30 pm, Sept. 9-18. Noon-6 pm Thursday-Friday, noon-4 pm Saturday-Sunday Sept. 22-Oct. 20. Reception: 8 pm Thursday, Sept. 8. Free.

Still Life

This ensemble dance cycle at the Portland Art Museum celebrates loss, physically and figuratively. The very choreography of this dance troupe will symbolize death, as with each new cycle, an element of the last will disappear. Here, dance is a “living and dying thing,” and as an audience member, you can also come and go. Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park Ave. 3-8 pm Friday, Sept. 9, noon-5 pm Saturday-Wednesday, Sept. 10-14. Included with museum admission.

One Portland Choreographer is Tackling Insomnia with a New Dance

Not sleeping will kill you. Unless, maybe, you flip insomnia on its head like Portland dancer Eliza Larson is doing.

Trying to break the world record for time spent awake, a high-schooler in the 1960s lasted 11 days before cognitive deficiencies and hallucinations set in. And people who suffer from a rare genetic disease called “fatal familial insomnia” will die if they go untreated. The most famous case lasted six months without sleep.

“My insomnia started in graduate school,” says Larson, who choreographed a sleep-inspired dance called In Circadia that debuts this weekend. While in grad school, her circadian pattern—the cycle of sleeping and waking that every living thing experiences—got out of sync. This dance is her attempt to understand the insomnia that once horrified her, and it also might have reset her rhythm.

Larson had been spending a lot of time alone. After leaving her native Pacific Northwest for school in Massachusetts, she took a solo residency in Mazatlan, Mexico. Even after she returned to Portland, Larson’s main project was a long-distance dance collective called Mountain Empire, where members used Skype or snail mail to communicate.

“At the end of the day, it’s still you in the studio by yourself,” says Larson. “I was really ready to be in the studio with other dancers.” So Larson decided to turn her traumatic sleeplessness into inspiration. In Circadia marks her return to working with other dancers in person. It is also her first attempt at artistically tackling the insomnia that she says “struck fear into my heart.”

“You start to watch yourself fall asleep, and watching yourself activates your brain, so you wake up again,” she says. “It happens for hours and hours. Witnessing your body fall asleep stops you from falling asleep.”

(Eliza Larson - Photo by Bill Watt)
(Eliza Larson – Photo by Bill Watt)

For In Circadia, Larson tried to channel the complex patterns of sleeping and dreaming into dance. The five-part performance has distinct sections, each inspired by a stage of pre-REM or REM sleep. “It’s really…spirally,” says Larson, who is using dancers with ballet backgrounds but choreographing moves that are inspired by floor techniques from Mazatlan.

“Everything is allowed,” she says. “Chaos and extreme organization.”

The Flock stage will be filled with fast flutters of motion and bright light one minute, then slow, contorting floor work and dim light the next. (Watch a clip of In Circadia rehearsals here.) “Anyone who’s ever tried to describe a dream to a friend knows that a dream is only ever interesting to you,” says Larson. “When you try to translate a dream into words, it becomes flat and uninteresting.” Instead of using words, Larson is translating dreams into motion and using a process that sounds a lot like therapy. She asked dancers to keep a dream journal. When the REM section of the dance comes, Larson says it is mostly the dancers improvising based on their own experiences. 

“Dreams can be so non sequitur. We can be silly, tender, ridiculous,” she says.

Larson is dreaming again now. Since she moved in to a house in Northeast Portland and started collaborating again, her insomnia has stopped.

“Dreaming is a sweet space,” Larson says.

See it: In Circadia will be performed as a work in progress with Aglaeca in the show Late Summer HarvestFlock Dance Center, 8371 N Interstate Ave., Studio 4. 8 pm Saturday, Aug. 27. $5-$10 sliding scale.

Stripping for Planned Parenthood

There is a legend in the burlesque world named Big Fannie Annie. Now 63, she was 450 pounds at the height of her career in the ’80s, when she made $28,000 some weeks by taking off her clothes. Annie is also the inspiration for philanthropist Kat Thomas.

Burlesque is equal parts fundraising and therapy for Thomas, who goes by Kitty Kat DeMille when touring with her nonprofit pinup shows, Pin-Ups for Vets and Workin’ the Tease, a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood that’s coming to Portland this Friday.

“We’re really good at reining in money,” Thomas says.

The last time Thomas’s company, Do Right Industries, came to town, she sold out the eastside’s Crush Bar. Now, Thomas is bringing her crew back for a Planned Parenthood benefit at Dante’s downtown.

“There is more money in strip clubs than the classic theater or concert venues,” says Thomas. The strip club industry averages $3 billion in annual revenue, matching the largest U.S. charity on Forbes’ annual list, United Way.

It is no surprise that Portland is especially lucrative. “Portland embraces whatever you want to be. Sexual fluidity is more embraced there than anywhere I’ve been,” says Thomas.

Related: Beauty tips from Portland strippers.

All around the nation, Thomas has toured with her pro bono burlesque, visiting places like Billings, Mont., where she worried that none of the rural, red-state residents would come out of the woodwork to benefit Planned Parenthood by watching a tattooed African-American stripper with crystal tassels swinging from her tits. To offset the cost of doing fundraisers, the girls perform straight burlesque shows as they travel through cities, including Salt Lake City, Cheyenne, Wyo., and Spokane, Wash. “We like to introduce burlesque to places that might not have it,” says Thomas.

“You can’t take off your clothes on military bases,” she says. Instead, Thomas just spent 35 days touring the nation’s American Legion posts, which she says are perfect because they still have proscenium stages from the ’40s.

It’s not all about the money, though. Burlesque, in her ideal world, is both educational and therapeutic for everyone. “We go to spas and talk to people in their 60s,” she says. “It’s about finding self-empowerment by showing off what’s underneath. It’s about loving your body.” In Vegas for the Burlesque Hall of Fame’s biggest showcase this spring, she saw a 90-year-old dancer get a standing O. “In one show, you can’t be onstage if you’re under 60,” she says, “and these women have been doing this since they were in their teens.” Planned Parenthood employees get free admission to Thomas’ shows. “This is our way to give back,” she says. “After a shooting in L.A., half the staff was getting counseling because they were scared. So we went there to just give them a fun time and celebrate human sexuality and all that great stuff that empowers people.”

Related: Wendy Weiss challenges the stereotype that women can’t be funny and hot

Big Fannie Annie is great stuff. She broke the stigma against overweight dancers with her slogan—“450 pounds of pure sizzling sex”—and she is now a legend recognized by the Burlesque Hall of Fame.

“We’re the misfits, the ones on the edges, taking off our clothes for strangers for money,” says Thomas. “We’re also here to show you the other side.”

At Dante’s, which Thomas identifies as “the place under the Keep Portland Weird sign,” the acts won’t just include dancers. “We have a standup comedian who plays the ukulele, Julia is our sultry songbird, and I do poi—those flaming balls at the end of a string,” says Thomas, “but I can’t light them on fire—for insurance purposes.”

Instead, she says, “I have a set of LEDs that are very Burning Man.” Therapy with feather boas and flashing lights. Annie would be proud.

See it: Workin’ the Tease is at Dante’s, 350 W Burnside St., 9:30 pm Friday, Aug. 19. $20-$35. 21+.

The Biggest Belly Dance Festival All Year Is This Weekend

Anything Goes

Local striptease connoisseurs Dee Dee Pepper and Wanda Bones do a slapstick and showy burlesque that’s sexy in its “I don’t give a fuck what you think about my mouse costume” way. It’s tittering as much as titty-showing. This month’s special guests include boylesque cabaret star Johnny Nuriel and Black Lodge Burlesque’s Meghan Mayhem. Funhouse Lounge, 2432 SE 11th Ave., 9:30 pm Saturday, Aug. 13. $12. 21+.

By the Light of a Different Moon

Under the stars and trees of Mary S. Young Park, members of A-WOL Dance Collective will fly through the air on aerial apparatus, incorporating strength techniques, acrobatics and dance to an original soundtrack of Dirty Elegance’s downtempo, emotional trance beats. Every year, A-WOL’s Art in the Dark performance transforms a park into an evening of circus-like spectacle. Mary S. Young Park, 19900 Willamette Falls Drive, West Linn. 8:30 pm Friday-Sunday, through Aug. 14. $15-$28.

Death of Glitter

The runner-up for Best Drag Show in WW’s Best of Portland Readers’ Poll, Crush’s monthly show goes Disney-themed this time. Special guests, including Portland mainstay Zora Phoenix, will dress and dance the parts of animated favorites. The cover charge helps fund TransActive’s youth programs. Crush Bar, 1400 SE Morrison St., 503-235-8150, 9:30 pm Saturday, Aug. 13. $5-$10.

JamBallah Northwest

The biggest belly dance festival we’ll get all year takes over Artists Repertory Theatre with vendors, master classes and workshops all weekend. Assuming you’re not a professional fusion dancer attending for career advice, pop into one of the showcases to see a huge lineup of colorful acts like Gypsy Heart Tribal and Wicked Thorns. Artists Repertory Theatre, 1515 SW Morrison St., 7:30 pm Friday, 12:30 and 8 pm Saturday and 3:30 Sunday, Aug. 12-14. $5-$40. All ages.

NWDP Summer Dance Intensive Showing

From across North America, young dancers tried out to begin Northwest Dance Project’s summer training program. After four weeks of training under Princess Grace Award-winners like Andrea Parson and Ching Ching Wong, they’ll take the stage in dances choreographed specifically for them. Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave., 503-421-7434, 7:30 pm Friday, Aug. 12. $25.

A Funny Thing Is Happening in Tigard


Openings & Previews


Over a year after he took the PR reins at Third Rail Theatre, company member Isaac Lamb is directing a play. In Sharr White’s tragicomic relationship drama, Emma returns to her ex-husband to pull him back from the brink of self-destruction. Ulysses is living in a trailer, alone, cooking while naked with only a dog for company. To really put audiences in this dingy world, the theater has been redesigned to create a more intimate space. Perfect for a date night with your ex, maybe achieving some catharsis as Emma and Ulysses bounce back and forth between their undeniable love and unbearable annoyance. Imago Theatre, 17 SE 8th Ave., 503-235-1101. 7:30 pm Thursday-Saturday and 2 pm Sunday. Aug. 5-27. $24.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Broadway Rose Theatre continues their love for Sondheim, staging Forum right after their production of West Side Story. Broadway Rose founding-General-Manager Dan Murphy will make an appearance as Pseudolus alongside Ethan Crystal—who just finished up his run in Triangle Production’s American Idiot—and Eugene native Kaitlyn Sage. This show follows a Greek slave trying to gain his freedom by helping his master get the girl of his dreams. The Deb Fennell Auditorium, 9000 SW Durham Road, Tigard. 7:30 pm Thursday-Saturday, 2 pm Sundays Aug. 4-21. Additional shows 2 pm Saturday Aug. 13 and 20. $20-$28.

The Maids

Portland’s newest theater company is jumping the gun, and we couldn’t be more glad about it. In the middle of the dull summer theater season  (mostly Shakespeare in the parks), Public Citizen Theatre debuts a dark, sadomasochistic work that you’d expect at the hight of the fall arts season. This black murder mystery by French poet and criminal extraordiairre Jean Ganet is based on the real-life murder of a Madame by her housemaids, two sisters who play out sadomasochistic fantasies in their down time. Staged in this industrial warehouse theater, The Maids is primed to deliver chills in spite of the season. Shaking the Tree Theater, 823 SE Grant St., 503-235-0635. 8 pm Thursday-Saturday and 2 pm Sunday, Aug. 4-21. $15-$25. 

Mr. Marmalade

Four year old Lucy has one fucked up imaginary friend. This is no children’s show. Instead, Mr. Marmalade is an abusive cocaine addict with a dildo obsession and a porn problem. Adding to the fuckpile, Lucy has one friend, a depressed boy named Larry who’s notorious for being the youngest kid to attempt suicide in the history of New Jersey. Twilight Theater might not be known for high-profile works or star power, but you can’t argue its stomach for black comedy. No show Thursday, July 28. Twilight Theater Company, 7515 N Brandon Ave., 8 pm Thursday-Saturday, 3 pm Sunday, through Aug. 6. $15.

The Music Man

Clackamas Repertory Theatre produces the classic musical about a traveling salesman who cons the parents of a small Iowa town into buying his instruments by promising to start a marching band. He plans to skip town before making good on that promise, but when a feisty librarian catches his eye, he decides to stick around for awhile. Clackamas Repertory Theatre, 19600 Molalla Ave., Oregon City, 503-594-6047. 7:30 pm Thursday-Saturday, 2:30 pm Sundays, August 4-28. $10-$18.


(photo from Polaris Dance Theater)
(photo from Polaris Dance Theater)

By the Light of a Different Moon

Under the stars and trees of Mary S. Young Park, members of A-WOL Dance Collective will fly through the air on aerial apparatus, incorporating strength techniques, acrobatics and dance to an original soundtrack of Dirty Elegance’s downtempo, emotional trance beats. Every year, A-WOL’s Art in the Dark performance transforms a park into an evening of circus-like spectacle. Mary S. Young Park, 19900 Willamette Falls Drive, West Linn. 8:30 pm Friday-Sunday, August 5-14. $15-$28.

Galaxy Festival

Your dream of tap dancing in Director Park is about to come true. Every August, Polaris dance company takes over this downtown square with free classes and contemporary performances from their own school and some of Portland’s top companies, like A-WOL Dance Collective. The lineup looks more diverse and funky this year. Boyeurism, the all-male revue from Star Theater, and The Circus Project will perform. In between shows, anyone can join classes in disciplines like ballet, yoga, pilates or tap. Director Park, 815 SW Park Ave., 11 am-6:30 pm Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 4-6. Free.


Funhouse Lounge
Funhouse Lounge

Al’s Den Comedy Night

Mostly local stand-up comedians and Seattleites passing through combine for an hour long showcase. Sometimes the best part is watching Crystal Hotel guests awkwardly sidle by the stage, wearing only a swimsuit and towel, on their way to the pool behind this basement bar. Al’s Den, 303 SW 12th Ave., 10:30 pm Fridays and Saturdays. Free. 21+

Barbara Holm Believes in You

Your life looks less shitty at stand-up shows in comparison to comedians’ much shittier lives. But positive affirmation is the theme of Barbara Holm’s monthly showcase, where audience members win prizes and get free comedy from local guests, including Bridgetown Comedy veterans. Bossanova Ballroom, 722 E Burnside St., 8 pm every First Wednesday. Free.

The Brody Open Mic

Twice-weekly, Portland’s most prolific improv venue opens its stage to everyone for 3-minute bits. Sign up online day of before 1 pm. Brody Theater, 16 NW Broadway, 224-2227. 8:30 pm Tuesday-Wednesday. Free.

Control Yourself: A Showcase Of Funny

Joann Schinderle’s weekly showcase of traveling national comedians an local up-and-comers is followed by an open mic, making it a crowd-pleaser that has won WW’s Best of Portland readers poll twice. Alberta Streeet Pub, 1036 NE Alberta St., 9 pm Mondays. Free.

Curious Comedy Open Mic

Sign up start at 7:15, and every comic gets a tight three minutes onstage in this weekly show hosted by Andie Main. Curious Comedy, 5225 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 8 pm Sundays. Free.

Curious Comedy Playground

It’s basically free time for comedians. Acts run the gamut, from improv to video and musical comedy, and you never know who’s coming out to play. Curious Comedy Theater,  5225 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 9:30 pm every first, third and fifth Thursday. Free. 

Earthquake Hurricane

Some of WW’s favorite funny Portlanders showcase famous and not-so-famous, local and not-so-local comedians. Hosted by Curtis Cook, Alex Falcone, Anthony Lopez and Bri Pruett inside a pretty epic bike shop. Velo Cult, 1969 NE 42nd Ave., every Wednesday. Free, $5 suggested donation.

Friday Night Fights

Curious’ twice-monthly improv competition pits teams that won last week’s Thursday Night Throwdown against one another. Curious Comedy Theater,  5225 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 9:30 pm every first and third Friday. Free. 

Helium Open Mic

Sign-ups start at 6 for Helium’s weekly Open Mic and the line-up drops at 7:30. No guarantees on stage time, but the bar’s always open. Helium Comedy Club, 1510 SE 9th Ave., 8 pm every Tuesday. Free.

Jon Rudnitsky

John Rudnitsky is a guy people call a rising star, a featured player on Saturday Night Live and one of the prestigious “New Faces of Comedy” at the Montreal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival. He also won something called The John Ritter Memorial Award for Outstanding Comic Performance. With five shows in three nights, he’s giving Portland plenty of time to decide if he’s our favorite new comedian. Helium Comedy Club, 1510 SE 9th Ave., 888-643-8669. 8 pm Thursday, Aug. 4, 7:30 and 10 pm Friday-Saturday Aug. 5-6, $15-$25. 21+.

Open Court

This weekly, long-form improv show combines performers from many Portland theaters and troupes. Newbies are welcome and teams are picked at random, then coached by an improv veteran before taking the stage. Curious Comedy, 5225 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Thursday. Free.

The Ranger Station Open Mic

Sign ups start at 8 pm for a weekly open mic night hosted by Victor Johnson, set in the whiskey-heavy bar WW once compared to “a Roosevelt-era public works cabin.” The Ranger Station, 4260 SE Hawthorne Blvd. 8:30 pm every Wednesday. Free. 21+.

Sunday School

Workshop students, veteran crews and groups that pre-register online perform long form improv every Sunday. Curious Comedy, 5225 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 6 pm Sundays. Free.


Brody’s students showcase their improv, sketch and standup skills—a different class each week. The Brody Theater, 16 NW Broadway, 6 pm Thursdays. Free.

You’re Welcome

Another new comedy show is staring. Hosted by Portland’s most recent Funniest person Nariko Ott, fellow Funniest finalist Caitlin Weierhauser, and newcomer Matt Monroe, You’re Welcome is going to be once a week, and it’s not to be missed. Kicking things off will be Portland’s Funniest alums Adam Pasi and Chris Ettrick, along with Barbara Holm and Yogi Paliwal. Mississippi Pizza Pub, 3552 N Mississippi Ave., 9:30 pm Wednesday, Aug. 3. Free. 21+. 

What’s On Stage in Portland July 27-August 2



Catch as Catch Can (JAW)

For the first time since her mind-warping play You For Me For You rocked Portland Playhouse, Mia Chung’s unconventional family storytelling will be on a Portland stage. This time, she’s tackling middle-class suburbia instead of North Korea and Communism. Two tight-knit families are rocked with unexpected drama when one son moves back home. Typical story, but knowing this playwright, expect anything but suburban. Gerding Theater at the Armory, 128 NW 11th Ave., 4 pm Saturday, July 30. Free.

The Forcings (JAW)

As the public face of Exxon’s operations, Ernie Ledezma helped the company navigate a mysterious scandal involving the disappearance of a group of environmental activists. As he’s celebrating with friends and family on the eve of his retirement from the company, the arrival of a stranger triggers a deluge of secrets. Conspiracy, intrigue and a healthy dose of magical realism pervade Kevin Artigue’s play, produced over a two-week period in collaboration with local actors and directors as part of the JAW, or Just Add Water. Gerding Theater at the Armory, 128 NW 11th Ave, 503-445-3700. Sunday, July 31 at 4 pm. Free.

JAW: Just Add Water

Portland Center Stage’s largest annual extravaganza of new work is a long weekend of readings, sneak peeks at future productions, plays from promising high schoolers (8 pm Friday) and pop-up events in the Armory theater by Powell’s. In addition to the five new works chosen from 200 submissions nationwide showing on the main stage (see individual descriptions), the smaller Ellyn Bye theater will host yoga (10:45 am Saturday), a site-specific show from Shaking the Tree Theatre (7:10 pm and 7:40 pm Saturday) and a new dance by Portland’s Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre (3:40 pm Sunday) in the Mezzanine. This is a wannabe-theater-subscriber’s heaven—all the big names in one place for free—and an elitist-theater-subscriber’s hell—riff raff in the Armory. Gerding Theater at the Armory, 128 NW 11th Ave., 8 pm Friday-Sunday, July 29-31. Free.

Lauren Weedman Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (JAW)

Santa Monica’s Lauren Weedman (I Love the ‘80s 3-D) is tired of telling us how to feel about Portland. She’s moved on to bigger things, like how to make your ass look smaller. Gerding Theater at the Armory, 128 NW 11th Ave., 8 pm Saturday, July 30. Free.

Mr. Marmalade

Four year old Lucy has one fucked up imaginary friend. This is no children’s show. Instead, Mr. Marmalade is an abusive cocaine addict with a dildo obsession and a porn problem. Adding to the fuckpile, Lucy has one friend, a depressed boy named Larry who’s notorious for being the youngest kid to attempt suicide in the history of New Jersey. Twilight Theater might not be known for high-profile works or star power, but you can’t argue its stomach for black comedy. No show Thursday, July 28. Twilight Theater Company, 7515 N Brandon Ave., 8 pm Thursday-Saturday, 3 pm Sunday, through Aug. 6. $15.

The Naked Magic Show

The title pretty much sums it up: An R-rated magic show features two “hot and hilarious” Australian performers who prefer to work their magic in the buff. Christopher Wayne, a Queensland radio-comedy writer and host of the children’s show More Than Magic, teams up with Mike Tyler, a comedy hypnotist and one of Australia’s most successful “clothed” magicians. Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, 503-248-4335. 8 pm Wednesday, July 27. $22.25-$79.50.

The Saints (JAW)

After a childhood in the foster care system, the trajectory of a young woman’s life is changed by a chance encounter with a pair of young missionaries. Nathan Dame’s gritty comedy is produced by local playwrights, actors and directors who collaborated for JAW, or Just Add Water, a two-week project that brings staged readings of new scripts to the public over the course of one “Big Weekend.” Gerding Theater at the Armory, 128 NW 11th Ave., 503-445-3700. Noon Saturday, July 30. Free.


The Italian Girl in Algiers

Love triangles—or love pentagons as seen here—are tailor-made for farce. Two people are going to find true love and one sad, sorry buffoon getting left out. It just happens here that the buffoon here happens to be an Algerian leader wearing a tan tracksuit with a pillow tied around his head. Oh, and another corner of the love pentagon spends most of the opera wearing a lampshade. The Italian Girl in Algiers isn’t Rossini’s best-known work, but it just might be the famed composer’s funniest. The Portland Opera’s production begins with wide-eyed tourist strolling about the giant Persian rug that serves as the set throughout. Mustafa is bored with his wife. So he does the only logical thing: he offers her as a wife to Italian slave Lindoro and demands that his assistant bring him an Italian woman. As luck would have it, a beautiful Italian woman named Isabella just washed up on the shore. What follows is an energetic, fitfully entertaining farce with more physical comedy than I’d ever expected to see in an opera. JOHN LOCANTHI. Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, 503-248-4335. 7:30 pm July 27, 29 and Aug. 6; 2 pm Sunday, July 31. $35-$200.



With plebeians taking selfies, iPhone videos of Roman general Caius Martius ranting, and a drunk singing Beyonce’s “Daddy Lessons” as he stumbles through ancient Antium, Portland Actors Ensemble’s outdoor production of Coriolanus draws winking comparisons between Shakespeare’s military drama and present-day politics. The Ensemble’s pop-culture additions jerk audiences away from the 17th-century world of the play. Even without these nudges, though, it’s hard to ignore the resemblance to present day: a commander who can’t drum up support from the common people, a rash populace that makes shortsighted choices in the wake of a famine. Even the tenuous peace between Rome and its former rival looks uncomfortably familiar. The tight, two-hour production was beautifully acted, with particularly stellar performances by Ken Yoshikawa as Aufidious and Allison Anderson as Volumnia, but technical issues held it back. Strange acoustics in the Pettygrove Park courtyard, which is located in a noisy pocket of downtown, made much of the dialog inaudible. Any time an actor wasn’t facing the audience and half-yelling, it was impossible to hear. It is a testament to Anderson’s dynamism and Yoshikawa’s booming voice that the production never felt longer than it was. The Shakespearean play is an eerily topical pick for the Ensemble’s 12th annual “Twilight Tragedie” summer series. Pettygrove Park, SW 2nd and SW Harrison St., 7 pm Thursday-Saturday, June 30-July 31. Free.

Trickster of Seville

A “family-friendly” interpretation of the famous Spanish play features seven actors taking on the entire range of twenty-plus roles. This precursor to the Don Juan legend details the exploits of a ruthless womanizer who pushes one of his conquests to attempt suicide and essentially rapes another by tricking her into thinking she’s having sex with her fiance, so how exactly Masque Alfresco plans to transform it into a family-friendly comedy remains unclear. George Rogers Park Memorial Garden, 611 S Slate Street, Lake Oswego, 503-254-5104. 7 pm Friday-Sunday, through August 7. Free.

Weekend at Bernie’s

Not that Bernie. This might the the longest-running summer show in Portland, but the comedic buddy tale won’t last until election night. Instead, Portland’s top improv talents stage the bumbling tale of two guys trying to convince the world that their boss is not dead. Think Office Space with 1980s Hawaiian shirts, mob bosses and super hot babes, inside Portland’s best new comedy venue. After the show, enjoy the fragrant Old Town scene outside. The Siren Theater, 315 NW Davis St., 10 pm Friday-Saturday, June 10-July 30. $16. 


Cool Moves, Bro

“Boost your follower count 364 percent,” teases Portland contemporary crew 11:Dance Co. Normally, they pop through the aisles at Portland fashion shows or lead dance nights at Fortune downtown. Here, in Adidas track pants or dominatrix lingerie, they pop, writhe and lick pizza slices. In a black box theater, the sexy, young ensemble slithers and breaks, with occasional soloists highlighted by a stark spotlight. From top choreographers like NYC contemporary queen Emma Portner and Northwest Dance Project’s Ching Ching Wong, it looks dope, bro. CoHo Theater, 2257 NW Raleigh St., 8 pm Friday-Saturday, 1:30 and 4 pm Sunday, through July 31. $25.

Dances to See in Portland July 13-19

Death and Delight

BodyVox partners with Chamber Music Northwest every year for a series of music and dance pairings. This rendition will feature two Shakespeare classics, Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Piano soloist Melvin Chen will accompany the Romeo and Juliet ballet by Sergei Prokofiev. The Midsummer Night’s Dream performance will be performed to compositions by Felix Mendelssohn. BodyVox, 1201 NW 17th Ave., 7:30 pm Wednesday-Friday, 2 and 7:30 pm Saturday, July 14-23.

Pretty Creatives Showing

An international talent competition hosted by the Northwest Dance Project selects two emerging choreographers. New work from the winners debuts in Pretty Creatives, the culmination of their summer residency with NWDP. This year’s winners, Luca Signoretti of Italy and Anton Rudakov of Russia, have worked for years in Belgium and Germany, respectively, but this is their first in the U.S. Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave., 503-828-8285. 7:30 pm Saturday, July 16. $25.

Viajeros Flamenco

A night of flamenco music and dance with ballerina and flamenco dancer Melinda Hedgecorth, trained in the style of iconic African American activist/choreographer Alvin Ailey. Accompanying Hedgecorth’s performance are flamenco guitarist Jed Miley and Alfonso Cid, a Seville Conservatory-trained singer and flutist. Ethos/IFCC, 5340 N Interstate Ave., 503-823-4322. 8 pm Saturday, July 16. $20.

The World’s Largest Big Top Is Under a Portland Bridge

If you traverse the Tilikum Crossing at all during the week, you’ve seen it—the world’s largest big top tent. That’s where Cavalia performs their spectacle of a horse circus. Under the tent, you’ll find aerial acrobats, african rhythm players and over 60 ultra-trained horses and their trainers (who, as you’d expect, are some of the most gorgeous people the world has ever seen) dressed in flowing silks and bejeweled headdresses.

Odysseo’s massive stage plays home to performers crawling all the way under and around their galloping horses, tumblers who create human pyramids four to five humans tall and riderless geldings and stallions running freely. The whole performance is soundtracked by a mixture of belly dancing, tribal and Arabic music played from two raised glass, recording-studio-quality booths that you can observe during the show.

The level of control these riders have over their mounts, and the on-land and aerial acrobats’ authority over their own bodies demonstrates a company of entertainers with a lifelong pursuit and dedication to their craft.

UPDATE: The show has been extended through July 31 from its previous final date of July 24.

See it: Odysseo is at Zidell Yards, 3121 SW Moody Ave, 8 pm Tuesday-Friday, 2 and 8 pm Saturday, 2 pm Sunday, July 7-July 31. Extra shows at7:30 pm Wednesday, July 20 and 7 pm Friday, July 22. $50-$120.

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