Friday, March 25, 2011

The Weekend Ahead: An Omnivore's Dilemma

Miracle Theatre's Boomcracklefly is on the schedule.
By Barry Johnson

Like many of you, though certainly not all, I'm a cultural omnivore. That's why Arts Dispatch wanders hither and yon, from art to music to theater to, well, you get the picture. At various times, I've had to focus on one art form or another almost exclusively, but I don't think that's my natural state. If I were a bee, I'd be pollinating ALL the flowers.

The problem is narrowing the field of possibilities, because this particular cultural ground, Portland, Oregon, is jammed with appealing opportunities every week.

As an omnivore AND a journalist, I'm driven two contradictory ways. One is toward the center, where the biggest events with the largest audiences are happening, events that have a chance to become common cultural currency for a while. Who wouldn't want to report and comment on that sort of thing? But journalists also like to "discover" things and generate that first early public description of them, because that seems at least equally useful to those who read, listen or watch what we do. I could write much more about these forces and even how they overlap sometimes, because I've thought about it a lot, but I'll save that for journalism class.

Anyway, this is one of those push-pull weekends for me. Target-rich environments -- events likely to stir the simple mind to action -- beckon in every direction, and as I type this, my plans are still in flux.

Here are a few of my options.

Boomcracklefly at Miracle Theatre: This is my one definite commitment so far. Olga Sanchez will direct the premiere of young playwright Charise Castro Smith's experiment in phantasmagoria, which received a staged reading from Miracle last fall. The Oregonian's Marty Hughley calls it "extravagantly fantastical." Opens 8 pm Friday and continues through April 16. The playwright will be on hand at the 2 pm Sunday matinee to take questions and comments.

Mini-Fringe Festival at Fuse Theatre: This festival of experimental performance has been chugging along for the past five weeks, and I'd like to catch it, even if this is the last weekend. On tap: Original Practice Shakespeare Festival will perform Much Adoe About Nothing at 7 pm  Friday and A Midsommer Nights Dreame at 7 pm Saturday, and both shows will be followed by LA monologist Les Kurkendall's Christmas in Bakersfield.

Arnica String Quartet and Free Marz Trio at the Community Music Center: Yes, I'm a believer in a wide dispersal of art throughout the metro area, within whichever one you happen to reside, and that's the mission of the Community Music Center. Arnica will play a promising program (Gorecki, Lutoslawski, Beethoven, etc) at 8 pm Friday, and Free Marz will be joined by trombonist Stuart Dempster for work by Lutoslawski(!), Schnitke, Brian Wilson, etc. at 8 pm Saturday. The music center is at 3350 SE Francis St. and both programs are free.

Some Days Are Better Than Others and Cool Weather: Portland filmmaker Matt McCormick's first feature film features the Shins' James Mercer and Portlandia (and former Sleater-Kinney) star Carrie Brownstein and will be playing at the Hollywood, and Portland native Aaron Katz's mystery, Cold Weather, is at the Living Room Theaters. And I'm sorely tempted to create my own little Oregon film festival by adding Henry Weintraub's The Darkest Corner of Paradise, which plays Thursday at the Northwest Film Center, to the first two.

And I could go on! I won't be attending the Japan benefit at the Aladdin on Sunday, at least not to write about, because my companion conflicts me out of it. I suspect by the time you read this, both shows will be sold out (UPDATE: and they are, per organizer Stephen Marc Beaudoin), but if not, that cause couldn't be more worthy.  PDX Gallery is hosting a Japan benefit art show, and I need to see some museum shows, too (Portland Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Craft, Oregon Jewish Museum).

Don't worry, we'll make some choices and then we'll report back on Monday... with any luck at all.


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