News & Notes: Season announcements from CoHo and Portland Playhouse

New plays on the horizon and an analysis of the rich and the arts

Today we have season announcements from two Portland theater companies with strong neighborhood roots, Portland Playhouse in the King Neighborhood and CoHo in Northwest. Then we have a little analysis by the website Hyperallergic into how the ultra-rich are dealing with the arts. And finally, our Quote of the Day, courtesy of Sol LeWitt, who is part of a group show at the Lumber Room.

Portland Playhouse has determined the identities of the plays for its 2015-16 season, the company’s eighth. It’s got hip-hop, Scrooge, North Korea, and Peter Pan on its mind, which is WAY more elastic than mine, apparently.

A scene from the Forum Theatre production of "How We Got On"/Courtesy Noe Todorovich

A scene from the Forum Theatre production of “How We Got On”/Courtesy Noe Todorovich

How We Got On, by Idris Goodwin, September 23-October 25: Can three midwest suburban teens find fame in hip-hop’s Golden Age? Goodwin takes you through their journey and adds a little hip-hop history lesson to boot. Directed by Jennifer Rowe.

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, adaptation and original lyrics by Rick Lombardo, original music by Anna Lackaff and Rick Lombardo, music arrangements by Anna Lackaff, Dec. 2-26: Back for its third year, this adaptation of the familiar seasonal story has been both box-office boffo AND a critical hit. Directed by Cristi Miles.

You For Me For You, by Mia Chung, February 3-28, 2016: Two sisters explore the alien universes of American and North Korea, in Chung’s supernatural drama. Directed by Gretchen Corbett.

Peter and the Starcatcher, by Rick Elice, April 27-May 29, 2016: Based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson with music by Wayne Barker, this play is a prequel to the familiar Peter Pan story, complete with pirates and mermaids. Directed by Brian Weaver.

Tickets are available now. All shows at the Playhouse, 602 NE Prescott.

CoHo, the little theater in Northwest Portland, has announced its 2015-16 season. That will make 20. We are shocked. We are also SO old. But enough about us!

CoHo’s new season is full of locally grown, nourished, acted and directed plays: Remme’s Run, The Yellow Wallpaper, and The Few.

Tricia Castañeda-Gonzales in "Remme's Run" during Fertile Ground.

Tricia Castañeda-Gonzales in “Remme’s Run” during Fertile Ground.

Remme’s Runby Wayne Harrel, Oct. 16-Nov. 8: Portlander Harrel’s play is based on a true-account of a man racing on horseback from Sacramento to Portland in 1855 to save his money from a bank going bust, while his card shark gal takes the steamboat north to meet him. It was a hit in the 2014 Fertile Ground festival.

The Yellow Wallpaper, adapted by Sue Mach, Jan. 15-Feb. 7, 2016: Portland playwright Mach has adapted a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman about “a woman confined to a single bedroom for three months in 1890 – a ‘rest cure’ for her nervous depression,” and turned it into an experimental performance piece, starring Grace Carter.

The Few, by Samuel Hunter, March 25-April 17: MacArthur Fellow Hunter’s play was workshopped in the JAW Festival and focuses on a little newspaper that tends to long-haul truckers. Brandon Woolley directs and Val Landrum is featured.

You can subscribe immediately for these shows, all of which will take place in the CoHo Theater, 2257 NW Raleigh.


Early this year Oxfam determined that the 80 richest humans on the planet were wealthier than the bottom 50 percent. That’s up (or down) from 2010 when it took the 388 wealthiest to exceed that same poorest half.

What does that have to do with art, you might well ask! Well, the arts and culture site Hyperallergic decided to figure out how that top 80 intersected with the arts, using the list of the richest people compiled by FiveThirtyEight. Some of them were quite active, one way or another.

We’ll focus on the three Northwesterners in the bunch: Bill Gates (who is #1), Phil Knight (#44 ), and Paul Allen (#56 ).

According to Hyperallergic, Gates collects important examples of American art and spent $30.8 million on Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester. This is balanced by his statement that giving to museums is morally reprehensible, given the needs of poor people on the world. Why he would collect art at all, in that case, is a bit paradoxical, as Hyperallergic suggests.

About Phil Knight, Hyperallergic simply suggests: “No known arts connections.” We don’t know of any major arts gifts that Knight has made (sports palaces down in Eugene, yes), but maybe the animation studio Laika should count. It’s more of an entertainment business, but art is certainly in the middle of it.

Paul Allen owns "Orchard with Peach Trees in Blossom," by Vincent van Gogh (1888), which will be part of “Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection.”

Paul Allen owns “Orchard with Peach Trees in Blossom,” by Vincent van Gogh (1888), which will be part of “Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection.”

Allen is associated with the arts to a far greater extent than his slightly richer peers (though his foundation has de-emphasized giving to the arts recently). He’s a top collector with a collection worth more than $750 million (Turner, Georges Seurat, Paul Gauguin, Alberto Giacometti, Monet, Rodin, Roy Lichtenstein, Georgia O’Keeffe, Ed Ruscha). A show from that collection, Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collectionopens at the Portland Art Museum in October. He also founded the EMP Museum and helped launch Art Fair Seattle.

In the end, this is just an exercise, and from my point of view, it’s not about “shaming” the wealthy into giving more to the arts (not that ArtsWatch could do that). But it is important to understand that the arts scene in the Northwest is NOT driven by our very wealthiest citizens. Another tier of donors beneath them on the wealth ladder is FAR more important to the health of the arts here, for example. And the greatest contribution by far comes in the the form of the vast amount of unpaid or underpaid work the artists of the Northwest do to keep the culture vital and moving forward.

Quote of the Day: “”2. Rational judgments repeat rational judgments. 3. Irrational judgments lead to new experience.” Sol LeWitt, Sentences on Conceptual Art

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