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Posts Tagged ‘tba’

Mike Daisey The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs – TBA:10

September 12, 2010 No comments
Mike Daisey - The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs

Mike Daisey - The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs

I’m always surprised when I mention the TBA (Time Based Arts) Festival to friends only to find that it isn’t really on their radar screens. It’s a real shame as the ten day festival brings to Portland such a wide range of talent and is so well produced that it’ almost inconceivable that so many people aren’t even aware that it’s going on.

This year, the festival brings back Mike Daisey one of my favorite monologists with a piece dedicated to all things Apple (both good and bad) in “The Agony And The Ecstasy Of Steve Jobs. Daisey follows in the line of great monologists like Spaulding Grey and performs a style of of monologue called extemporaneous monologue, where he tells a story based on a loose outline of notes. His work has an unique mix of the almost electric buzz of complete improvisation combined with a strong wire framework of something totally scripted. Read more…

Categories: Theater Tags: , ,

TBA:09 in Review – Back to Back Theater Small Metal Objects

September 10, 2009 No comments
photo: Ken Aaron, NeighborhoodNotes.com

photo: Ken Aaron, NeighborhoodNotes.com

Set in Pioneer Courthouse Square, Back to Back Theater’s “Small Metal Objects” is a fairly minimalistic piece – two guys stroll the square talking about life and their relationship. A third person comes along to interject a small amount of drama and the piece builds slightly, only to reach an anti-climax. There aren’t many highs and lows to the piece; it’s all fairly mundane. The fairly simple interaction is heightened as each actor is impeccably mic’d and the audience, equipped with high-end head phones, can hear every single word no matter where the actors are located in the square. It’s an odd experience watching a piece of theater where the actor’s audio sounds so close. In this piece this intimate audio experience is even more odd as it’s so clearly intertwined with a very public space in which the actors perform. In addition to the dialog, music is mixed over the headphones creating the real mood and the tension of the performance.

The real magic of Small Metal Objects is the slight of hand that Back to Back Theater does, duping the audience into thinking that they are the observers when in fact they are the show. Sitting in a confined and clearly marked space above the square, wearing big silver headphones, it’s the audience that are the “small metal objects”. We are the ones really on display and the actors who walk the square are nearly invisible to people who pass through the square. It’s a fairly brilliant inversion and quite effectively challenges the very notion of what performance and theater are. The downside of this is that the piece is pretty much a one trick pony. Once you realize the trick there’s little else to hang on to. There are some nuggets narratively in Small Metal Objects and the two main characters are compelling, but it has the potential to be even better. Back to Back could have delivered a one-two punch with a piece that both challenges the concept of performance and has stronger narrative elements. It’s an opportunity missed, but not enough to prevent me from recommending the show.

I applaud Back to Back Theater for so skillfully challenging the core concept of performance. Technically the show was impeccable, but with a stronger narrative it could have been even better.

For more information about Back to Back Theater’s Small Metal Objects:

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TBA:09 in Review – locust crushed

September 8, 2009 No comments
TAfter the massively disappointing Meg Stuart show, I had a pretty large unfulfilled craving for good modern dance. That craving was more than met with locust, whose energetically explosive performance ‘crushed’ swept me up and left me waiting more.  Locust mixes many styles and mediums to bring together a collection of non-narrative dance segments that connect through patterns of movement and theme.  Accompanied by a beat boxer, music (both live and recorded) and video, locust blends classical and modern moves with explosive energy.
What struck me the most about locus and their piece ‘crushed’ was just how talented all the dancers in the company are. The dancers seamlessly transition between pirouettes and Michael Jackson crotch grab and then back to full balletic spins. This talent is combined with great group chemistry which results in ensemble dance numbers that are in equal balance to the individual ones. Video, when used wrong, can be quite a distraction from a modern dance piece, but locust has a strong sense of its place and the opportunity it can provide.  My favorite use of video came mid way through the piece with a static shot down a long dim hall. The dancers use this video to create an environment on stage and then build on it. Shadowy video dancers mimic the movements on stage, sometimes in time, sometimes out of time, creating a fantastic bending of time and expectations. The piece toys with the concept of live and recorded with so much explosively live energy it stands as an exclamation point on any sentence exalting live performance.
I enjoyed locust’s crushed so much I’d not only recommend it, I’d definitely consider seeing it again.
locust crused at TBA:09

locust crused at TBA:09

After the massively disappointing Meg Stuart show, I had a pretty large unfulfilled craving for good modern dance. That craving was more than met with locust, whose energetically explosive performance ‘crushed’ swept me up and left me wanting more.  Locust mixes many styles and mediums to bring together a collection of non-narrative dance segments that connect through patterns of movement and theme.  Accompanied by a beat boxer, music (both live and recorded) and video, locust blends classical and modern moves with explosive energy.

What struck me the most about locust and their piece ‘crushed’ was just how talented all the dancers in the company are. The dancers seamlessly transition between pirouettes and Michael Jackson crotch grabs, and then back to full balletic spins. This talent is combined with great group chemistry which results in ensemble dance numbers that are in equal balance to the individual ones. Video, when used wrong, can be quite a distraction from a modern dance piece, but locust has a strong sense of its place and the opportunity it can provide.  My favorite use of video came midway through the piece with a static shot down a long dim hall. The dancers use this video to create an environment on stage and then build on it. Shadowy video dancers mimic the movements on stage, sometimes in time, sometimes out of time, creating a fantastic bending of time and expectations. The piece toys with the concept of live and recorded with so much explosively live energy it stands as an exclamation point on any sentence, exalting live performance.

I enjoyed locust’s ‘crushed’ so much I’d not only recommend it, I’d definitely consider seeing it again.

For more info on locust ‘crushed’:

Categories: Events Tags: ,

TBA:09 in Review – Young Jean Lee's Theater Company's The Shipment & Meg Stuart's Maybe Forever

September 5, 2009 1 comment
Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company – The Shipment
You know you’re not colorblind, right? Young Jean Lee continuously reminds you of this fact as her piece “The Shipment” pushes and pulls at racial identity, stereotypes, perception and memes. The Shipment, divided into five parts, is smart, funny, and painfully insightful. It opens with actor/dancers Mikeah Ernest Jennings and Prentice Onayemi who dance and spring around the stage in ecstatic and playful fashion. It’s disarmingly joyful and extremely likable. It’s a perfect prologue and an extremely skillful misdirection that puts the viewer into a space where they won’t know exactly what to expect from piece.
The short opening dance is followed by Douglas Scott Streater, who comes on stage and does a caricature of a stand-up comedian. Think “Night at the Apollo” or Chris Rock and you capture the essence of Streater’s piece.  “You think I want to be here talking about race? I want to be talking about poop!” exclaims Streater. It’s an important moment addressing the core issue of exactly where the issue of race lives. It poses the questions ‘must a black comedian joke about race because he’s black?’ or maybe even the underlining question ‘can someone who isn’t black create a show dealing with seemingly black specific issues?’ Douglas Scott Streater is electrifying in this part of The Shipment, extremely likeable and extremely funny. He makes it easy to completely lose the sense that you’re watching an experimental theater piece and actually believe that you’re at a stand up show.
Streater’s stand up routine is followed by an odd robotic and cartoonish lampoon of racial stereotypes. It’s done with a minimalist set, in a quasi improv style. The price reminded me of seeing a long form improv piece at the Improv Olympics in Chicago or perhaps seeing an segment of South Park written and directed by Young Jean Lee. While this wasn’t my favorite part of the show, it was oddly amusing in its outlandish style and rhythm and the actors are so likeable in ‘The Shipment’ that it’s a joy to follow along whatever they do.
No sooner do you feel like you’ve got a grip on ‘The Shipment’ than Young Jean Lee pries your fingers away and shows you that you don’t. The cartoonish farce is followed by an extremely naked and beautiful song. Three of the actors stand at the edge of the stage, with the house lights raised, piercingly staring at each and every member of the audience as they sing in harmony. During this part of the show Young Jean Lee forces you out of your role of observer of this work, you can’t just comfortably sit in the dark laughing and clapping, saying “they’re not talking about me.”  The song is hauntingly beautiful and having the piercing gaze of an actor meet your eyes is a unique theatrical experience that is wonderful, amazing and terrifying all at once.
The final piece of ‘The Shipment’ is a seemingly conventional one act play that takes place at a cocktail party in an upscale apartment. As with the other pieces of the show, the ensemble cast works extremely well together here. It’s expertly performed and very entertaining. There are a number of twists and turns in the final piece of the evening which are best left unspoiled, but as with the rest of the work, expect to have your perceptions turned on its head.
Young Jean Lee’s ‘The Shipment’ is an example of how successful a piece of experimental theater can be. In many ways it’s extraordinarily confrontational, dealing with deep issue of racism and racial identity, but it’s done so well, with such a charismatic and likeable cast that it doesn’t turn the audience off or push them away. It’s easy to shock an audience and push at their comfort zone, it’s a lot more difficult to make them laugh and carry them along while you push at their comfort zone. Young Jean Lee and her company of actors accomplish this is an amazing way, with a night of theater that should not be missed.
Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods & Philipp Gehmacher/Mumbling Fish
Maybe Forever
I knew I was in trouble when PICA’s guest artistic director Cathy Edwards introduced Meg Stuart’s piece as “wonderfully atmospheric”. To me that’s often code for a piece which has a lot of style and very little substance. Unfortunately, Meg Stuart’s ‘Maybe Forever” lacked in both style and substance. Opening on an extremely dimly lit stage (I could barely make out anything I was seeing), two figures gyrate, roll around and move on the floor. They’re accompanied by looped audio with sounds of a dock or bay. Yes, it’s ‘atmospheric’, but atmospheric of what?  The stage is so dimly lit you can barely see a thing.
Once the lights do finally go up you see the two performers echo some of the movements barely visible before. I wouldn’t call the movement in Maybe Forever dance. The gyrations and frequent arm moves of the piece have little flow, no finesse and very little sense of connection with anything outside the insular world that’s created on stage. These gyrations are occasionally interrupted by singer-songwriter Niko Hafkensch whose songs aren’t bad but they all seem to blend into one never ending waltz. His songs begin as enjoyable but they become almost unbearable as the sounds and themes circle back around and around.
At one point Meg Stuart performs some quasi spoken word accompanied by angular gyrations. It comes off as pretentious and self indulgent an aspect which echoes throughout the entire piece. Sure, I get that Stuart is paying out aspects of her relationships, there are themes of ecstasy, love, hate, death, rape and longing. But the piece seems to have almost no regard for the audience. There’s no connecting points, nothing to really grasp on to and certainly nothing to enjoy.  It’s theater as therapy for the artist and there’s no pleasure in being a voyeur to it.
Maybe Forever goes on for a full hour and a half, repeating movements and themes over and over and over again only to loop back around to them and revisit them again. I have no problem with a piece obsessed with its theme. Last year at TBA Lessar and Company did a phenomenal dance piece on the theme of relationships. It’s was beautiful, moving and challenging. This piece never breaks out of its own insular world, never gives the viewer a connecting point or anything more than the same shard of broken dreams on loop. I was a lone boo, in a trickle of polite applause. There were turned heads, rude comments and shock over this audible communication of displeasure with the puce. To me, polite applause would have been as disingenuous as the piece itself. (Read – Why Not Boo? by Terry Teachout from the Wall Street Journal who puts this issue into perspective better than I ever could.)
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123758739465399861.html
Young Jean Lee Theater Company The Shipment at TBA:09

Young Jean Lee Theater Company The Shipment at TBA:09

Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company – The Shipment

You know you’re not colorblind, right? Young Jean Lee continuously reminds you of this fact as her piece “The Shipment” pushes and pulls at racial identity, stereotypes, perception and memes. The Shipment, divided into five parts, is smart, funny, and painfully insightful. It opens with actor/dancers Mikeah Ernest Jennings and Prentice Onayemi who dance and spring around the stage in ecstatic and playful fashion. It’s disarmingly joyful and extremely likable. It’s a perfect prologue and an extremely skillful misdirection that puts the viewer into a space where they won’t know exactly what to expect from piece.

The short opening dance is followed by Douglas Scott Streater, who comes on stage and does a caricature of a stand-up comedian. Think “Night at the Apollo” or Chris Rock and you capture the essence of Streater’s piece.  “You think I want to be here talking about race? I want to be talking about poop!” exclaims Streater. It’s an important moment addressing the core issue of exactly where the issue of race lives. It poses the question ‘must a black comedian joke about race because he’s black?’ or maybe even the underlining question ‘can someone who isn’t black create a show dealing with seemingly black specific issues?’ Douglas Scott Streater is electrifying in this part of The Shipment, extremely likable and extremely funny. He makes it easy to completely lose the sense that you’re watching an experimental theater piece and actually believe that you’re at a stand-up show.

Streater’s stand-up routine is followed by an odd robotic and cartoonish lampoon of racial stereotypes. It’s done with a minimalist set, in a quasi improv style. The piece reminded me of seeing long form improv at the Improv Olympics in Chicago or perhaps seeing a segment of South Park written and directed by Young Jean Lee. While this wasn’t my favorite part of the show, it was oddly amusing in its outlandish style and rhythm and the actors are so likable in ‘The Shipment’ that it’s a joy to follow along whatever they do.

No sooner do you feel like you’ve got a grip on ‘The Shipment’ than Young Jean Lee pries your fingers away and shows you that you don’t. The cartoonish farce is followed by an extremely naked and beautiful song (Modest Mouse’s Dark Center of the Univese). Three of the actors stand at the edge of the stage, with the house lights raised, piercingly staring at each and every member of the audience as they sing in harmony. During this part of the show Young Jean Lee forces you out of your role of observer of this work, you can’t just comfortably sit in the dark laughing and clapping, saying “they’re not talking about me.”  The song is hauntingly beautiful and having the piercing gaze of an actor meet your eyes is a unique theatrical experience that is wonderful, amazing and terrifying all at once.

The final piece of ‘The Shipment’ is a seemingly conventional one act play that takes place at a cocktail party in an upscale apartment. As with the other pieces of the show, the ensemble cast works extremely well together here. It’s expertly performed and very entertaining. There are a number of twists and turns in the final piece of the evening which are best left unspoiled, but as with the rest of the work, expect to have your perception turned on its head.

Young Jean Lee’s ‘The Shipment’ is an example of how successful a piece of experimental theater can be. In many ways it’s extraordinarily confrontational, dealing with deep issue of racism and racial identity, but it’s done so well, with such a charismatic and likable cast that it doesn’t turn the audience off or push them away. It’s easy to shock an audience and push at their comfort zone, but it’s a lot more difficult to make them laugh and carry them along while you push at their comfort zone. Young Jean Lee and her company of actors accomplish this is an amazing way, with a night of theater that should not be missed.

For more Information on Young Jean Lee Theater Company:

Meg Stuart - Even The Name of the Piece is Pretentious

Meg Stuart - Theater as Therapy

Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods & Philipp Gehmacher/Mumbling Fish – Maybe Forever

I knew I was in trouble when PICA’s guest artistic director Cathy Edwards introduced Meg Stuart’s piece as “wonderfully atmospheric”. To me that’s often code for a piece which has a lot of style and very little substance. Unfortunately, Meg Stuart’s ‘Maybe Forever” lacked in both style and substance. Opening on an extremely dimly lit stage (I could barely make out anything I was seeing), two figures gyrate, roll around and move on the floor. They’re accompanied by looped audio with sounds of a dock or bay. Yes, it’s ‘atmospheric’, but atmospheric of what?  The stage is so dimly lit you can barely see a thing.

Once the lights do finally go up you see the two performers echo some of the movements barely visible before. I wouldn’t call the movement in Maybe Forever dance. The gyrations and frequent arm moves of the piece have little flow, no finesse and very little sense of connection with anything outside the insular world that’s created on stage. These gyrations are occasionally interrupted by singer-songwriter Niko Hafkensch, whose songs aren’t bad but they all seem to blend into one never-ending waltz. His songs begin as enjoyable but they become almost unbearable as the sounds and themes circle back around and around.

At one point Meg Stuart performs some quasi spoken word accompanied by angular gyrations. It comes off as pretentious and self indulgent, an aspect which echoes throughout the entire piece. Sure, I get that Stuart is playing out aspects of her relationships; there are themes of ecstasy, love, hate, death, rape and longing. But the piece seems to have almost no regard for the audience. There are no connecting points, nothing to really grasp on to and certainly nothing to enjoy.  It’s theater as therapy for the artist and there’s no pleasure in being a voyeur to it.

Maybe Forever goes on for a full hour and a half, repeating movements and themes over and over and over again only to loop back around and revisit them again. I have no problem with a piece obsessed with its theme. Last year at TBA Lessar The Company did a phenomenal dance piece on the theme of relationships. It’s was beautiful, moving and challenging. This piece never breaks out of its own insular world, never gives the viewer a connecting point or anything more than the same shard of broken dreams on loop. I was a lone boo in a trickle of polite applause. There were turned heads, rude comments and shock over this audible communication of displeasure with the piece. To me, polite applause would have been as disingenuous as the piece itself. (Read – Why Not Boo? by Terry Teachout from the Wall Street Journal, who puts this issue into perspective better than I ever could.)

For more information on Meg Stuart/et al.:

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TBA 2009 – Tons of Free Options at Portland's Premiere Arts Fest

September 2, 2009 No comments
TBA 09: Time Based Art Festival

TBA 09: Time Based Art Festival

Going over this year’s TBA:09 (Time Based Art) Festival catalog I was struck by just how many of the events at Portland’s premiere arts festival are free.

In addition to the free events, there are also a number of options that provide pretty hefty bang for the buck.

Top of that list is the Works Pass. For $75 ($50 for PICA members) you get access to all the late night programming at the Works (Washington High School – 531 SE 14th Ave) running from September 3rd – September 10th.  In all 16 shows!

Some of the highlights from The Works (531 SE 14th Ave)  include:

Totally free TBA:09 events:

Top TBA Picks to shell out dough for:

On Portland plans to bring you complete coverage of TBA 09 with up to date recommendations on shows, pictures and reviews.

Categories: Events, Theater Tags:

Mike Daisey Interview – The Last Cargo Cult

July 31, 2009 No comments
Mike Daisey

Mike Daisey

Mike Daisey is a breath of fresh air. In an era where there is so much derivative work  appearing on stage (look no further than Shrek The Musical, Legally Blonde or Xanadu),Daisey reminds us why we go to live theater in the first place – to see something happen, in the moment.

Unlike many other notable monologists, Mike Daisey does all his performance extemporaneously. His monologues are never rehearsed and the only guide he uses is a set of notes which he amends at the end of every performance.

I’ve had the opportunity to see Mike Daisey perform on three occasions:  21 Dog Years (doing time at Amazon.com) in 2005,  Monopoly! and If You See Something, Say Something which Daisey performed at the 2009 TBA festival.  It’s been an amazing experience to see Daisey grow as a performer, and so I was extremely excited to discover that PICA was bringing him back to Portland to workshop his latest work The Last Cargo Cult (which he performs on August 1st at 8pm in the Wieden + Kennedy Atrium 224 NW 13th Ave)

Here’s our interview with Mike Daisey where he talks about the process of creating his monologues, The Last Cargo Cult, and why Portland has such a deep connection with his work:

Here’s Part 2 of the Mike Daisey Interview:

For more information on Mike Daisey:

Categories: Interview, Theater Tags: , ,

Mike Daisey – If You See Something, Say Something

September 15, 2008 1 comment
Mike Daisey in If You See Something, Say Something

Mike Daisey in If You See Something, Say Something

This year at TBA I had a little mini “Mike Daisey Festival“. I saw Mike Daisey perform his ‘MONOPOLY!‘ early on in the fest, then attended a companion workshop ‘extemporaneous, autobiographical, monologue’ and finally finished with ‘If You See Something, Say Something’ at the end of the festival..and I enjoyed every minute of it.

After seeing Monopoly!, I attended Daisey’s workshop. It was a lot like watching the behind the scenes content on a DVD. Daisey opened window into his work, his process and the art form of monologue. One of the key points Daisey emphasized is “there are no messages in good extemporaneous monologue”. This perhaps is the key to why Daisey’s pieces work so well. Daisey deals with incendiary topics in his work, rather than rant and rave, beating the audience over the head with messages, he deals with core themes and trusts his audience enough to process that material and make their own conclusions.

In the workshop, Daisey also emphasized the importance of imperfection in art, a concept which spoke to me. “If you smooth away the edges you leave no point of entry to your work,” Daisey remarked. “Hamlet is a truly fucked up play. If I submitted it to a MFA program without including who wrote it, they would smooth out the edges to make it ‘better’…I mean why doesn’t the ghost of Hamlet’s father come back, we need to have him come back… and what about these fucking Pirates!” Daisey teaches weekend long workshops in New York and after getting a two and a half hour taste I’d say it’s required education for anyone pursuing a career in monologue.

After the workshop I had the opportunity to see Daisey’s newest piece. If You See Something, Say Something previewed at this years TBA festival prior to its run at The Public Theater in New York (Wednesday, October 15 – Sunday, November 30). If you See Something is a poignant and engaging musing about security, what makes us feel safe and how governments use fear as a leverage point. Like many of Daisey’s monologues, this one weaves several stories together to form the whole including: Daisey’s trip to Laos Alamos in New Mexico to see ground zero at the Trinity Site, the story of Sam Cohen and his involvement with both the Atomic and Neutron bombs, the complete history of Homeland Security and 9/11.

What struck me the most about If You See Something, Say Something was just how many levels that it played on. The audience roared with laughter as Daisey exploded with self effacing comedic moments including eating the worst hamburger in history and then barely uttered a breath as he talked about the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. True to form, Daisey doesn’t beat his audience over the head with messages about how bad Homeland Security is or the insanity of the Patriot Act, instead he dissects the history of both and muses on the relationship we all have with it.

If You See Something, Say Something is an exceptional monologue and Mike Daisey has shown this week that he is one of the premiere monologists performing today. Daisey hinted that he may be back again in Portland in the near future and mentioned an off the record piece he’s proposing for a future TBA, I can’t wait.

Categories: Theater Tags: , ,

Leesaar The Company & Mike Daisey – Simply Amazing at TBA 08

September 7, 2008 No comments
LeeSaarr - The Company

LeeSaarr - The Company

The buzz you’re hearing about TBA is all true. Portland’s Institute for Contemporary Art has continued to build on its success by attracting world class talent and creating an artistic epicenter that should not be missed.

This Saturday night I caught two TBA simply amazing TBA performances:

Leesarr The Company – Geisha

Geisha opens with dancer Jye-Hwei Lin, dressed only in a pair of blue jeans, who dances and moves around the bare stage to no music. This opening piece sets the stage for what it to follow. Lin’s bare chest creates a musical canvas with which she uses every inch. Each breath, tilt, movement is carefully cherished in this dance.

Lin’s dance is beyond captivating. As she holds a pose, arms stretched out, body nearly frozen, she waves her fingers as if they’re caught in the breeze. This tiny movement on a huge stage is as loud as the leaps and twists which later follow in the piece.

Lin’s stark opening dance is followed by Lee Sher, wrapped in a silk robe, she serenades the audience with Israeli pop music (lip synchs to a concert track which includes audience cheering). This interplay between the dance and Sher’s pop serenade gives the piece a fascinating contrast and breaks up the quiet and tiny universe which opens the piece.

After several scenes Lin is joined in her dance by Saar Harari who mirrors Lin’s dance and sexual energy while transforming the moves and energy from female to male. What follows is an electrifying dance between Lin and Harari which each dancer wrestles with whose dance it is. Lin pulls back in elements of her solo dance and Harari transforms those elements.

The two dancers drift between synchronization, responsive dancing and stillness. As the piece build the two dancer’s orbit draw closer and closer. As an audience member you’re pulled into this dance, waiting, hoping, wishing that the two worlds will collide. But just as this anticipation comes to a crescendo it’s interrupted by another song from Lee Sher.

I won’t spoil the ending of this piece, the ‘will they, won’t they’ drama is part of the whole excitement and I think it would be a disservice to clue you in on the ending. But I was amazed at the end of the piece just how sucked in to the drama I had become. I’ve seen a good amount of modern dance but never anything so deliberate, passionate and amazing as Leesarr’s Geisha. This is the kind of work that could awaken a love for modern dance. Leesaar performs Geisha one more time (Sun Sept 7 8:30pm at Lincoln Hall/PSU) be sure not to miss it.

Mike Daisey – MONOPOLY!

Mike Daisey in Monopoly

Mike Daisey in Monopoly

I saw Mike Daisey perform his monologue “21 Dog Years, Doing Time @ Amazon.com” when he brought it to Portland in 2005. I found 21 Dog Years to be a funny, amusing and entertaining monologue, worth every penny of admission. It was enough make me want to see Daisey again when I heard he was returning with TBA.

Something has obviously happened to Daisey over the past three years, because what he did at Portland Center Stage’s Gerding Theater was nothing short of landmark. As guest festival director Mark Russel introduced Daisey he mentioned that the desk and chair on stage belonged to Spalding Gray. As he said this I gasped. To me it’s almost unthinkable that another performer, outside of a Spalding Gray tribute show, would be permitted to use Gray’s trademark desk and chair. Russel commented that he and Eric Bogosian felt that there was no one better than Daisey to be permitted to sit behind that desk… and they’re right.

When Spalding Gray died I thought it was simply the end of an art form. Great monologists are few and far between and I doubted that anyone would ever really be able to follow in Gray’s footsteps. I was wrong. Mike Daisey is Gray’s heir apparent. His monologue MONOPOLY! is one of the smartest, funniest and well crafted piece I’ve seen on stage. Daisey’s mastery of which story to tell when and his deep understanding of metaphor as commentary echoes some of the very best work of Gray. But Daisey isn’t doing a Grey impersonation. His style, cadence and narrative are uniquely his own.

MONOPOLY! weaves several stories together including the history of Nikola Tesla, Daisey’s attempt to mount an avant-garde theater piece featuring a Tessla coil, the history of the Monopoly board game, his experience with a Microsoft industrial video shoot, his family in Maine and the impact of the local Walmart on the town. Daisey’s weaving of the stories is pitch perfect and he uses the interconnections of them to express the core themes of the piece.

MONOPOLY! is extremely entertaining and laugh out loud funny. It plays one more time at the festival (Sun Sept 7 8:30pm at Gerding Theater at the Armory) and then later in the festival he performs a new monologue If you See Something, Say Something that I will absolutely be seeing.

Categories: Theater Tags: , ,

Musicfest North West and Time Based Art Festival – TBA '08

September 4, 2008 No comments
Time Based Art at The Left Bank Project

Time Based Art at The Left Bank Project

Tonight two major arts and entertainment festivals had their kick-off events. Both showed that Portland is big enough to support two huge festivals, even when they run at the same time.

I started the evening at MusicFest NW, their kick off party was an outdoor cocktail party in the lot next to the Wonder Ballroom. Less of a scene than a gathering, the party was most notable for the extremely long line for the open bar. The bar line was almost as long as the line of people waiting to get in to see the bands. Did I really wait fifteen minutes for a shot of Soco?!?

I caught the Battles whose set was well received. As I listened to their mostly instrumental music, I couldn’t help but think “Music Geeks”. The Battles play with passion and energy but their music often is over-thought and muddled. I enjoyed some of their songs but wasn’t ever pulled out of my ‘hey I’m watching a music show’ space and so my aside from some toe tapping and light head bobbing the set left me a little cold. I was surprised at how many people brought kids to the show. Maybe mathrock is something that appeals to kids.

Just a hop skip and jump away at the new Left Bank Building PICA launched their Time Based Art festival with a warm and welcoming party. The party was open to anyone and everyone and the scene was a nice mix of people. The Left Bank Project (which is dubbed ‘The Works’ for the TBA Festival) is a very cool venue with so much space that there were tons of nook’s and crannies to explore. One area’s tenant was a version of Backspace Cafe just for the fest. Also a nice patio area featured a work in progress by Justin Gorman whose large format graphic painting was fantastic to see in progress.

Some of the other art, including Big Skin by Lizzie Fitch, Anna Halprin’s Blank Placard Happening and the Flash Choir were solid misses. (Perhaps the Flash Choir would have done better performing in the outdoor space).

A solid start though to two landmark Portland festivals

Categories: Events, Music Tags: ,