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Archive for September, 2009

Travel Portland – The Best of Portland Video

September 13, 2009 1 comment

Travel Portland has put together a fantastic look at the city of Portland. I think it sums up some of the amazing things that makes Portland, Portland and why it’s becoming one of the premiere travel and tour destinations in the US.

To keep up with the Best of Portland:

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

September 10, 2009 Comments off
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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Patton Oswalt in Portland – Ticket Giveaway

September 8, 2009 22 comments
Patton Oswalt in Portland

Patton Oswalt in Portland

The response for our Miley Cyrus Portland Concert Ticket Giveaway was great and we got some good feedback from our readers on what kind of giveaways they’d like to see and how they’d like to see us do them.

So..We’re excited to bring you a ticket giveaway for Patton Oswalt who is going to be performing in Portland this Sunday September 13 at 7:30pm at the Newmark Theater at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts.

Patton Oswalt is an exceptional comedian who was a smash hit at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival and is in an explosive break out period in his career. After reaching large scale notoriety as the voice of the title character in Pixar’s Ratatouille, Patton’s acting and stand up career have gone through the roof.  Patton just released his new concert film My Weakness is Strong and he’s starring in the critically acclaimed Sundance Film Festival hit Big Fan.

On Portland is giving away a pair of tickets to see Patton Oswalt in Portland.  All you have to do to enter is comment on the thread below with your thoughts about Patton. We’ll pick the one comment as the winner.

Winner will be drawn on Thursday, September 10th at 7:30pm.

Be sure to follow @OnPortland on Twitter for more great promos and coverage of events like Patton Oswalt.

Here’s a peek at Patton’s Standup:

Watch the trailer for Patton Oswalt in Big Fan here.

For more info on Patton Oswalt:

(Congrats to “Stephanie E” who is the winner of the pair of tickets)

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TBA:09 in Review – locust crushed

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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.:

Categories: Theater Tags:

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

September 2, 2009 Comments off
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:

Miley Cyrus Portland Concert Ticket Giveaway

Miley Cyrus Portland Concert In asking On Portland readers what they’d like to see on the site, one of the big pieces of feedback we get is “Give Stuff Away!”  So we’re excited to launch our first giveaway in conjunction with the Rose Quarter for the highly anticipated Miley Cyrus Portland Concert!

The Rose Garden is the official launch spot for this tour which officially kicks off Monday, September 14th at 7pm (Portland was also the launch for this year’s American Idol 2009 Tour).  The Miley Cyrus Portland concert will also feature a new paperless ticketing system that could possibly revolutionize the concert industry (check out this video on the new ticket system).

On Portland is giving away 5 pairs of tickets (10 tix total!!) in our first ever twitter giveaway.

Here’s how to enter:

1) Follow us on twitter:  @OnPortland

2)  Tweet this to your friends:  Miley Cyrus Concert  Portland Tix giveaway – follow @onportland & retweet to enter: http://sn.im/mileycyrus

CLICK HERE to send the Tweet out to your Twitter friends automatically.

Also… for more great Rose Quarter promos follow @rosequarter

The giveaway ends September 6, 2009 at midnight PST. Five winners will be picked at random (one for each pair of tickets) and notified via Twitter DM. If notified, you will have 24 hours to respond and claim your prize, at which point it will be given to another contestant. You MUST be following @OnPortland and tweet the entry phrase to be eligible to win.

NOTE:  Kids that aren’t old enough to have a government issued ID will need a parent to claim the tickets for them. Parents will need to be physically present with their ID to claim the tickets at the box office.  From there can give the tickets to their kids.

We hope to bring more great giveaways and promotions in the future, so let us know what you’d like to see.

Key On Portland Music coverage:

Categories: Music Tags: