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News & Notes: ‘Natasha Plays’, a new performance film series, more!

By Barry Johnson
November 20, 2013
Culture, News & Notes

This edition of News & Notes is all about catching up with things that either exist now or will exist in the future. Actually, they probably exist in some form now, we just can’t see them. Sometimes I confront the calendar of possible arts events I could attend, and I shudder myself into a state of paralysis, and these items are intended as a sort of antidote. Except for the last one, which nominates an interesting spot to wait while the paralysis lifts.

Yelena Gorina in "Natasha's Dream"/Courtesy Meyerhold Center Moscow

Yelena Gorina in “Natasha’s Dream”/Courtesy Meyerhold Center Moscow

Ruth Wikler-Luker’s Boom Arts continues its savvy and provocative programming with workshop performances of “The Natasha Plays,” by the young Russian playwright Yaroslava Pulinovich in English translations by John Freedman. The two short plays look at what life is like in contemporary Russia for 16-year-old girls—one “have” and one “have-not.” Karin Magaldi directs Portland actresses Lily Burnett and Anneke Wisner in the two monologues. In characteristic fashion, Boom Arts will follow the performance with talkback conversations on themes including Russian theatre today (with playwright Yaroslava Pulinovich, Nov 21); girlhood and gender in Russia and the US (Nov 22); and inequality in contemporary Russia, co-sponsored by the World Affairs Council (Nov 23).

Since the Cold War ended our knowledge of Russia seems to have declined, oddly enough, and stories of individual, “normal” Russians are extremely rare. And given the large number of Eastern European and Russian immigrants to Portland, the “Natasha Plays” seems especially pertinent here. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday (Nov. 21-23), in the Lincoln Hall Studio Theatre at Portland State. They’re free, but donations are suggested. Reservations here.


The Bolshoi Theatre's "Spartacus"/Dmitry Kulikov

The Bolshoi Theatre’s “Spartacus”/Dmitry Kulikov

Portland experiments with film versions of opera, theater, and ballet performances by major international companies are continuing, starting Sunday, December 15, at the Hollywood Theatre, with the “Opera and Ballet in Cinema” series, presented by Emerging Pictures. I don’t see these as replacements for local productions, more as supplements. After all, it’s expensive to see the Bolshoi on its home turf, but the company sets a certain sort of standard in the ballet world. And frankly, a YouTube video isn’t quite sufficient.

I mention the Bolshoi because yes, three Bolshoi productions are on the schedule along with an “Aida” from Teatro alla Scala, and two “spectacle” operas from Sydney that were performed on a floating stage in Sydney Harbor.

The schedule:

  • December 15 – “The Sleeping Beauty,” Bolshoi Ballet, featuring Svetlana Zakharova and David Hallberg, the first American ever to join the Bolshoi as a principal dancer
  • December 22 – “Aida” – Teatro alla Scala, with soprano Violeta Urmana in the title role opposite tenor Roberto Alagna
  • January 5 – “Spartacus” – Bolshoi Ballet
  • January 19 – “Carmen” – Opera Australia/Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour
  • February 2 – “Le Corsaire” – Bolshoi Ballet
  • February 16 – “La Traviata” – Opera Australia/Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour

Performances are on Sundays at 1:30 pm; tickets are $18. Available through the Hollywood Theatre link or through Opera in Cinema.


Our friends at BodyVox are presenting the Arcane Collective and its production “Cold Dream Colour” by Morleigh Steinberg and Oguri with music by U2 guitarist The Edge and Paul Chavez of Feltlike. The dance (we’ll see excerpts) was inspired by the painting of the late Irish artist Louis le Brocquy—Steinberg lives in Dublin. BodyVox artistic director Jamey Hampton will moderate conversations with directors/choreographers  Steinberg (who was integral to Momix and Iso)  and Oguri (a dance force in Los Angeles) about the process of turning le Brocquy’s imagery into music and dance.

7:30 pm Dec. 5-7, BodyVox, 1201 NW 17th. Tickets are $25.


"Bridging" on the North Park Blocks/Photo by Sabina Samiee

“Bridging” on the North Park Blocks/Photo by Sabina Samiee

I noticed “Bridging” on the North Park Blocks yesterday, a sculpture made from 4×4 cedar posts that doubles as dining area and park bench. Created by 16 University of Oregon students in the Portland urban architecture program, it will sit between Davis and Everett streets through November 23, be disassembled, and then make appearances in O’Bryant Park, Jameson Square, and Holladay Park through the winter of 2014. I liked how RACC’s public art manager Kris Calhoun talked about it in the press release:

“The work is an open ended invitation for people to come together and relate to each other on a very basic human level- sharing a meal together. I am looking forward to seeing and experiencing the work in the various locations and seeing how the stories unfold. That is part of the magic of putting work out into the public to me, seeing how it is received, used and interpreted by the broadest possible audience.”

“Bridging” was developed by students in the “Place Branding for Public Services” studio taught by Philip Speranza.The studio culminated in the design and building of a single, full-scale urban installation. The students involved included Jesse Alvizar, Natalie Cregar, Vijayeta Davda, Sermin Yesilada, Tina Wong, Grace Aaraj, Charley Danner,Wilfredo Sanchez, Srivarshini Balaji, Timothy Niou, Oliver Brandt, Hanna Lirman, Haley Blanco, Jenna Pairolero, Eli Rosenwasser and Henry Smith.

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