ArtsWatch Weekly: Hello Drammys, farewell Conduit, back to Bach

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

GET ON YOUR TUX AND YOUR EVENING GOWN (or, this being Portland, your jeans and flannels and Doc Martens): It’s Drammy Time. The 2016 Drammy Awards ceremony, the 38th annual celebration of outstanding work on the city’s theater stages, is ready to rock the Newmark Theatre on Monday, June 27. This year’s festivities will be emceed by a gaggle of hosts – the legendary sketch comedy troupe The 3rd Floor, coming out of retirement for the night.

drammyslogo_printcmykThe Drammys always include a little backstage drama, and this year’s nominations have generated some heat among theater insiders, both for shows that were nominated and shows that weren’t: some shows have fierce partisans. That’s not unusual, though the temperature might be a little higher this year. The fireworks might add some spice to the ceremony, or everything might burst into daffodils and roses. Enthusiasm usually runs high. One thing bound to spike interest is the addition this year of an awards-ceremony-in-the-awards-ceremony: the equity advocacy group Age & Gender Equity in the Arts will announce $30,000 in grants for equity projects. Jane Vogel, AGE’s founder, reveals the whys and hows in this story for ArtsWatch.

In all, 117 productions were considered for Drammy awards, ranging alphabetically from A Doll’s House (Shaking the Tree) to You for Me for You (Portland Playhouse).  The complete list of nominees is here. One winner has already been announced: actor and director Beth Harper, founder and artistic director of the professional training academy Portland Actors Conservatory, will receive a well-deserved lifetime achievement award. The house opens at 6:30 p.m., the ceremony begins at 7, it’s free and unticketed: show up, grab a seat, and shout out a few cheers.



FAREWELL TO CONDUIT. Conduit, a wellspring of contemporary dance in Portland for more than twenty years, announced late last week that it will be shutting its doors after July 23. While the decision isn’t unexpected, it marks a sizable shift in the city’s dance scene. For most of its life Conduit was literally the center of the contemporary scene, working out of a spacious fourth-floor studio in the Pythian Building, smack in the middle of downtown. Last year, after being forced out of that space, it relocated to the Ford Building on the East Side, but its money problems followed it across the river.

Choreographer Tere Mathern (right) and dancer Jim McGinn at Conduit, in the vintage years. Serena Davidson Photography/2007

Choreographer Tere Mathern (right) and dancer Jim McGinn at Conduit, in the vintage years. Serena Davidson Photography/2007

“During the last few months, despite our best efforts, we were not able to build programs quickly enough to generate the income required to meet rent and operations costs,” the company said in a statement. “We also concluded that the space, while beautiful, is not well-suited as a performance venue, which is an important aspect of our mission and revenue.”

At its height, Conduit was a home for fresh ideas and experiments by visiting national and international dance artists as well as being the hub of Portland’s contemporary dance scene. Leading figures including Tere Mathern, Mary Oslund, Gregg Bielemeier, Jim McGinn, Keely McIntyre, Minh Tran, and Jae Diego were identified with Conduit, and visiting artists ranging from Trisha Brown to Bebe Miller to Stephen Petronio used the space. Conduit will keep its board and nonprofit status, and assess whether it has a further role to play without a physical home.

Classes will continue until July 21, and A Wake for Conduit, a celebration and farewell party, will happen 7-9 p.m. July 13 at the Ford Building, 2505 Southeast 11th Avenue #120. Raise a glass and give a toast.



The festival chorus, bringing it all home. Photo: Oregon Bach Festival

The festival chorus, bringing it all home. Photo: Oregon Bach Festival

BACK TO BACH. In an official sign of summer, the Oregon Bach Festival kicks off this week with a performance Thursday of the great Mass in B Minor, conducted by Matthew Halls in Eugene’s Silva Hall. The festival is one of the musical prides of Eugene, and for Portlanders, a gathering well worth the downvalley trip: some world-class stuff happens here. The festival runs through July 10, and the schedule’s packed with significant concerts. Among this summer’s guest artists are several with fervent followings in Oregon, including tenor Nicholas Phan (singing Schubert and Britten Friday night), violinist and violist Ida Kavafian, violinist and Portland Baroque Orchestra leader Monica Huggett, and father/son pianists Jeffrey and Gabriel Kahane (their program includes Gabriel’s song cycle/oratorio Gabriel’s Guide to the 48 States, an evocation of the New Deal and WPA projects of the 1930s). The rising young opera star Nicole Cabell drops in to sing, and the big news is a double appearance by the Scottish composer and conductor Sir James MacMillan, whose new Requiem will have its world premiere at OBF on July 2. On June 28, MacMillan will conduct a program that includes two of his own previous works, For Sunny and Sinfonietta.



Emily June Newton in "Frank: to be frank" at CoHo Summerfest. Photo: Arnista Photography

Emily June Newton in “Frank: to be frank” at CoHo Summerfest. Photo: Arnista Photography

OTHER GOOD BETS in a very busy first week of summer:

COHO SUMMERFEST. Northwest Portland’s CoHo kicks off four weekends of small-scale, edgy theater with Frank: to be frank, Emily June Newton’s solo show on “the Rat Pack’s 17th member.” It’s a tale the tabloids somehow never told. Friday through Sunday. Later in the festival: Rebecca Ridenour and Matthew Kerrigan in Shakespeare’s long poem Venus and Adonis; A Little Bit Off, by the troupe Bella Culpa; comic solo artist Kelly Kinsella in When Thoughts Attack.

MAKE MUSIC DAY PDX. That’s today, Tuesday, at parks and other music spots all over town, starting at 1 p.m. and thumping on into the evening. From Director Park to The Old Church, the Community Music Center to Peninsula Park, McCoy Park to Ventura Park and several more, it;s a day if sound from barbershop to funk to folk to hip-hop, with a lot of stops between. And it’s all free: check the schedule and put on your dancing shoes.

ORIGINAL PRACTICE SHAKESPEARE. This motley crew of Shakespeare originalists (it’s a highly original approach to originality, a sly and cheerful and partly improv take on historicism) kicks off a busy summer of outdoor shows with a Summer Solstice version of A Midsomer Night’s Dreame (original spelling, too) on Tuesday on the summit of Mt. Tabor. A brand new production of The Tempest opens Saturday at Gabriel Park, and The Merry “Husbands” of Windsor on Sunday at Post5. Check the tour calendar for times, dates, and locations.

PORTLAND ACTORS ENSEMBLE’S SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARKS. The grandaddy of Portland’s outdoor summer-Shakes troupes opens its 46th season of free shows on Saturday in downtown’s Pettygrove Park with the great, too rarely produced political tragedy Coriolanus: excellent for an election year. Coming later in a season that stretches through Labor Day is the comedy Love’s Labour’s Lost.

LAKE OSWEGO FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS. There’s usually a pretty good time to be had at this ambitious smaller-scale festival, which provides a bit of breathing space after the gigantic bacchanal of the Rose Festival, and it’s themed more specifically to the arts (though there’s plenty of food, kids’ activities, and outdoor music involved, too). It sprawls across the Lakewood Center for the Arts and the nearby George Rogers Park on the banks of the Willamette all weekend, Friday through Sunday. The theme of this year’s juried art exhibition is Chasing Paper: Exploring the Boundaries of Paper as an Art Form.

SILETZ BAY MUSIC FESTIVAL. Summer time is beach time, and for the next couple of weeks this eclectic festival led by American/Israeli conductor and music director Yaacov Bergman might just fill the bill between beach combing and saltwater taffy snacks. The festival, in Lincoln City and the nearby Salishan Resort, ranges freely from concert rock to trad and contemporary jazz to classical, in intimate and relaxed settings. Concert rock violinist Aaron Meyer kicks things off on Wednesday, followed this week by a Schubert and Dvorak chamber concert Thursday and, on Saturday, a recital of  Ravel, Stravinsky, and Strauss by the young Chinese pianist Mei-Ting Sun.

THE QUIET MUSIC FESTIVAL OF PORTLAND. Time to turn down the volume. Chris Johanson has been producing “the lowest key festival in the land” annually since 2011 at Disjecta, aiming, in the North Portland art center’s words, to “transform the contemporary art space into a tranquil cave of sonic serenity. Tuning in and zonking out are equally encouraged as this year’s line-up takes you through soft sets tailored to the festival’s ethos while you float on a sea of plush surfaces.” You can tiptoe in Friday through Sunday.

THE SKRIKER AT THIRD RAIL REP. This play by the always innovative and provocative Caryl Churchill opens Friday and runs through July 2, produced and performed by Third Rail’s mentorship company in the troupe’s home space at Imago Theatre. The Skriker, an ancient shape-shifting spirit, confronts two young women and poses some elemental questions.



ArtsWatch links


Quang (James Ryen) and Nhan (Will Dao) have a run-in with a redneck biker (Paco Tolson) in "Vietgone." Photo :Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Quang (James Ryen) and Nhan (Will Dao) have a run-in with a redneck biker (Paco Tolson) in “Vietgone.” Photo :Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival

ONSTAGE IN ASHLAND. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s eleven-play season kicked into overdrive last week with the addition of its three big shows on the open-air Elizabethan Stage, and Suzi Steffen’s been following the action for ArtsWatch. Look for her full reviews in days to come. In the meantime, you can feast on Skiing the mountain of Hamlet, her fascinating interview with actor Danforth Comins, who plays the brooding prince; and Pow! Bam! Love, M*therf!&er!, her review of Qui Ngyuen’s invigorating, foul-mouthed sex comedy on love and war. And catch up with From shipwreck to fairy tale, Steffen’s reviews of the first four plays to open in the festival’s current season.

MENTORING A COMMUNITY OF 21st CENTURY COMPOSERS. The Oregon Bach Festival isn’t just about the concerts, though they are its core. It’s also about teaching and passing along the torch. Gary Ferrington writes about the festival’s Composers Symposium and its reach.

POETIC JUSTICE: CAFE LENA COOKS AGAIN. For one night, on Wednesday, the legendary cafe and hangout for poets, which did weekly open-mike poetry readings ending in 2001, will be remembered and celebrated. Let the good rhymes roll.

FILMWATCH WEEKLY. Marc Mohan tracks the good, the bad, and the occasional ugly on the weekly film front.

DA PALMA TRACKS THE 50-YEAR CAREER OF A HOLLYWOOD MAVERICK. Marc Mohan reviews the new documentary on the legendary director of Carrie, Dressed To Kill, and The Untouchables.

DANCE WEEKLY. Jamuna Chiarini’s weekly column keeps track of everything that’s happening on the city’s dance performance scene.

MOCK’S CREST’S RUDDIGORE: OVER THE TOP. Bruce Browne suggests that, when it comes to this particular Gilbert & Sullivan, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.

JOE RUDKO: THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S EYE. Jennifer Rabin reviews Rudko’s exhibition of photo assemblages at PDX Contemporary.

MAKROKOSMOS 2: MUSICIANS IN THE MIDST. Gary Ferrington goes behind the scenes of the makings of this intimate contemporary music fest, which plays Thursday at Blue Sky Gallery in Portland and Sunday at Oveissi & Co. in Eugene.

JEWISH FILM FEST: HEARTY YUKS TO SCARY DYBBUKS. Marc Mohan gives the lowdown on the ongoing festival, from a raunchy comedy about circumcision to the can’t-miss flick The Kindergarten Teacher.

AIN’T NO PLACE LIKE MOTOWN, HITSVILLE U.S.A. Christa Morletti McIntyre traces the musical and cultural roots of Motown the Musical, the Berry Gordy version of the Motor City music story, whose national touring company played Portland last week.

BECAUSE THE PAST IS JUST A GOODBYE. Patrick Collier reviews Blake Andrews’ exhibition of black and white photographs, Pictures of a gone world, at Blue Sky Gallery.

"Emmett" (2013)/Blake Andrews, at Blue Sky Gallery

“Emmett” (2013)/Blake Andrews, at Blue Sky Gallery




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