SCOUTING IN THE 21ST CENTURY Jimmy Grzelak takes to the stage, and the woods, to teach
audience members How to Be a Terrorist.
Summer is finally upon us, but for theater-goers, that doesn't have to mean all show tunes and Shakespeare-in-the-parks: The exhilaratingly non-mainstream anomalies, innovations, and debaucheries of PortFringe, Portland's festival of new, edgy, and experimental theater works, are back for a second year. After last summer's wide-reaching and extraordinarily well attended inaugural festival, PortFringe's intrepid organizers, the Portland Theater Collaborative, have lined up nigh on 50 shows for PF-13. These productions — which include everything from a neo-Jungian original fairy tale (Reba Short's the Memories that Make Us) to an interactive game show (Cast Aside Theatrical's Gameshow: The Show) — will be staged from June 26 to 30, at Geno's, SPACE Gallery, and Portland Stage Company's Studio Theater and Storefront, and will include special "Late Night" selections for grown-up audiences.
What's on this year's bill? The full lineup and schedule is available at portfringe.com; here are some highlights and themes to look for as you plan your personal Fringe.
Post-apocalypses and other disasters are trending high lately, including plenty in PF-13. They are brought to impromptu life in the Post-Apocalyptic Improvised Zombie Puppet Musical, by the IMPROVISED PUPPET PROJECT, in which the power of music helps zombies and humans finally make nice. The TOOTH AND NAIL PUPPETRY FRONT also uses puppets — as well as junk band instruments and old-timey panoramas on "crankies" — in staging The Seed of Oppression and Greed, which explores the disasters of our own ravaged present. In Defiance Alliance! Atomic Comic, the Minneapolis-based RAW SUGAR delivers the "triple-threat of puns, puppets and protons" from which Quantum Ghost must save humanity; and the titular android of MECHANICAL PRODUCTIONS' The Mechanical grapples with the post-human question of what it is to live. Finally, in The Cleansed: A Peak Oil Audio Experience, the Portland production company ISH-ESQUE asks audience members to don headphones for an "audio-visual experience" of John Prophet's battle to save humanity from "corrupt ex-military, savage survivalists, deadly pig farmers and megalomaniac religious leaders," bringing audio drama to the stage.
Fusions of theater and film will also play into the PF-13 mix. Portland film company PENINSULA PICTURES presents a stage edition of its web series An Evening With No Refund for Content, in which the staff of Capitol Cinemas agrees to screen the work of a self-proclaimed "real filmmaker" only if they can put on their own show. Short films and sketch comedy make up the human edition of wildlife documentary Wild America, from HER MAJESTY'S CABARET; and FINYETTE FILMS puts on a "rodeo" of film, comedy, and interpretive dance.
New dance works staged in PF-13 include MARIEKE VAN DER STEENHOVEN's lamellae, which explores isolation and intersection, with a soundscape by Matt Brown and video projections by Derek Kimball. The dance company VIVID MOTION presents Choices, about a girl who moves to the city to become a ballerina, but whose life gets gritty fast; and APPARATUS DANCE THEATER takes on suburban life with trapezes, shopping carts, and found-object circus equipment.