SE Portland theater group continues novel entertainment

Find out why folks say the best place to see interdisciplinary performances of music, theater, dance – and to see the arts in general – is right off SE Foster Road, at PerformanceWorks NW. The next installment of their ‘Alembic Series’ is playing this weekend

Richard Decker and his artistic director Lucy Yim, perform “Over, here and now” during “Distilled” at PerformanceWorks NW.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
After spending two decades in New York City, native Oregonian Linda Austin couldn’t find theaters around here offering casual, intimated performances of the arts. So, she created that space, and called it PerformanceWorks NW.

We visited as performers were doing a technical rehearsal – working out lighting and sound cues for their show, “Distilled” – on January 9.

And, with the organization’s cofounder, Jeff Forbes, Austin told us how this unique theater began.

“When I came to Portland, I looked for a theatrical rehearsal space,” Austin began. “Once I had it, I wanted to surround myself with creative people, lots of activities, and also enliven the neighborhood.”

Austin explained that she started out by organizing programs similar to those she enjoyed when living in New York. “There was a plethora of activities there. I used to be part of an improvisation series; so I started an improvisation series here, so I could have one in my ‘house’ – in my building.  After that, our cabaret started out as a replica of programs I’d experienced – a setting that provided an informal way for people to watch live performance and have fun. In a casual and not intimidating setting, people would be able to see unusual performances they wouldn’t normally see.”

That evening’s program, “Distilled”, was a fundraiser supporting their “Alembic Series” of guest artist organized events. “Different artists, from the worlds of dance and performance and video and film have each organized, and invited other artists in, for an evening of performance each month,” Austin said.

Later that evening, ten performance artists performed snippets of their shows or productions giving the audience a wide sampling of Portland’s more lively performance and dance artists.

Dora Gaskill performs her interpretative dance, “Also, of sorts” at the “Distilled” benefit show.

See Alembic #6: DOMESTIC/WILD this weekend
It’s now playing, and running January 23 at 8 pm and on Sunday, January 24 at a 4 p.m. matinee, see “Domestic/Wild”, Curated by Kathleen Keogh and devised by Emily Stone, this “performance lecture” is … well, hard to describe.

In their words, “Intricately weaving sound, dance, performative lecture, and digital video, this show draws connections between overgrown brambles, animal husbandry, dust, late-night kitchen dances, monsters in the closet, mud in your mouth, your pants falling down on a cold day, and getting lost and finding a place to sleep for the night. There will be refreshments at intermission and doors blown open by the wind.  There will be a singing saw and a bass clarinet. Come make yourself at home.”

Admission ranges from $10 to $15 on a sliding scale; reserve seats by calling (503) 777-1907 or visiting “Box Office Tickets” website: CLICK HERE to bring up that web page.

New show in February
In February, look for their next production in the series, called “Alembic #7: Other Wise”.

They describe it as “a collaborative movement inquiry into how we use secondary perceptive mechanisms as a primary way of knowing. Jen Warnock, Adela Basayne, Wendy Tucker and Chelsea Burnett explore the curiosities of intuition, the plasticity of perception, and the potentiality of minor brain malfunctions.”

Other Wise plays at 8:00 p.m. the evenings of February 12, 13 and 15; and features a 4:00 p.m. matinee performance on February 14. Ticket prices are on the same sliding scale as January’s shows.

PerformanceWorks NorthWest is located at 4625 SE 67th Ave. a block north of SE Foster Road. To visit their website, CLICK HERE.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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