In a three-part performance full of bizarre gestures and circular wording, a Japanese theatre troupe examines office politics in an off-the-cuff way. Performed completely in Japanese, everything in Cheltfisch is translated via a series of projected subtitles, allowing the subtle social dynamics of Japan to really shine through.
Part One: Hot Pepper
Three office temps sit around the table. Cue music -- and it is revealed that these three office temps are in charge of organizing a coworker Erika's farewell party. These three workers are organizing Erika's farewell party. As they discuss organizing Erika's farewell party in a roundabout fashion, they are offering very little information as they are speaking in circles. They are hardly saying anything at all despite spewing out many words, and while they speak, they are moving around the stage with exceptionally awkward gestures and positions. Their movements are completely erratic and unpredictable, quite unlike the words they are saying, which are constantly repeating the same themes in every short segment. Every few minutes is punctuated by awkward movements and repetitive text which says nothing but is humorous in its ability to say almost nothing despite their extended duration. Though the office workers spend an exorbitant amount of time talking about the same things ad nauseum, they entertain the audience with their body movements, which are much more erratic. Everything about their movements is stiff and intense, governed by no rhyme or reason, and all of the words they say harp on the same topic. Myriads of words are exchanged but little is said, just like in this paragraph. Everything about part one of Cheltfisch is about form and format and less about content. Movements follow a pattern of stilted spontaneity and words beat horses to pulpy, bruised death. Discussions about farewell parties, free monthly magazines called Hot Pepper, and motsu hot pot ("Motsunabe (もつ鍋?) is a type of nabemono in Japanese cuisine, which is made from beef or pork offal.", according to Wikipedia, which the performance itself in fact cites), offer little information, but somehow, part one never seems to stop being interesting. SEE FULL PERFORMANCE REVIEW

 

Imagine the possibilities of world revolution – an upheaval of design, and distribution of resources lighting the path to global peace and (relative) happiness. The largesse of this task is daunting, and has throughout history been commandeered by a few ambitious individuals. Thoughts like these swirled about in a small man with coke-bottle glasses: the inimitable R. Buckminster Fuller. Inventor, engineer, architect, theorist, orator, among many other things, Fuller was first and foremost a futurist – an optimistic man bent on improving his social, political, psychic and physical world with radical thought. His unique life and lifestyle have created an altogether compelling character of sizeable proportion, comprised of all the quirks, hiccups, and gemstone moments worthy of a Wes Anderson-inspired montage. And certainly, director Sam Green’s treatment of Fuller and his life work is admirable in The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller, a live documentary collaboration with indie rock veterans Yo La Tengo.
SEE FULL REVIEW

 

Tuesday's late night TBA fare began with a bang at Washington High School with Terrifying Women. The ambiguously advertised event promised "a video, comedy, performance, live, streaming, extravaganza" featuring Sarah Johnson, Kathleen Keogh, Angela Fair, Tanya Smith, Wendy Haynes, Diana Joy and Alicia McDaid. SEE FULL PERFORMANCE REVIEW
It's worth including an excerpt from the Facebook invite, which read:
A lot of people ask me "What do you mean by "terrifying?" And I say, "You know, like, kind of crazy but, like, good crazy? Most of the time?" Are you a terrifying woman? Or have you ever been terrified of a woman? IS TERRIFYING WOMEN FOR YOU? 1. Have you ever been told you are "too sensitive" or "too intense" yet often accused of being "too reserved" or "independent"? 2. Has anyone ever said, "You're crazy," or "What the fuck are you talking about? Can we please go to sleep now?" to you? 3. Have any mental or holistic health care professionals ever noted that "your moods seem to get in the way of your life"? or that "you feel a lot"? 4. Have you ever had an unsolicited spiritual experience? 5. Do you experience rage? Do you express it? 6. Have you ever confused love and sex? 7. Have you ever asked someone to "define obsessive"? 8. Have you ever habitually used any drugs or refused to take any drugs? 9. Have you ever been told that you vibrate at a high frequency or that you're "smart"? 10. Have you ever felt an overwhelming sense of love and joy that made you cry tears of gratitude even though you knew you would most likely experience gut wrenching pain and anguish at least one more time that day? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you should definitely come see our show. If you answered "no" to all of these questions, you're a liar.
("And liars should come to the show, too!!!!" adds Kathleen Keogh in response.) The official press release described the event thusly:
"It's the Vagina Monologues on nitrous oxide wearing strap-on penises. Don't be scared, be terrified."

 

Okay, so that was enough to pique my curiosity (and apparently the curiosity of many others; the auditorium was standing room only at start time). The festivities began with a group breathing exercise led by the bleached-blonde MC, Alicia McDaid, who then proceeded to pee -- or something like it -- onto the stage, perhaps setting the tone for an evening of absurd antics. She then led her audience on a self-depricating photo tour of her recent hair exploits before going on to introduce the rest of the all-girl cast, three of whom appeared via video chat, each repping their own persona. Diana Joy, most memorably, was clad in football shoulder pads, with Blade Runner-inspired Daryl Hannah hair (wig?), and freaky pitched down voice. Basically anything she said throughout the course of the night coasted on the hilarity of her hyper-masculinity. As for her other two on-screen counterparts, each was funny, or adorable and disappointing in her own distinct way. The effect was a sort of "choose your avatar" scenario for the audience.

 

"Love in the world is very short/ Don’t look back," sang the Portland-via-Somalia Iftin Band. Their translated message wrapped up the Global and Mobile Pop event at TBA Festival 2012. The crux of the evening was indeed about not looking back, but about looking everywhere, in a celebratory program of global music paired with local savvy. Co-curated by Portland's purveyors of tropical pop, Brainstorm, and self-proclaimed amateur ethnomusicologist, Christopher Kirkley of sahelsounds, Global and Mobile Pop strung together the work of musicians (foreign and domestic) in the African tradition, but with an Information Age twist. A triad of tall screens provided a data-rich backdrop with imagery evoking the foreign and the familiar: hyperbolic, color-saturated music videos hailing from West Africa; Safari windows devoted to on-the-spot search results piloted by local musician turned website jockey, Jason Urick; and a live Twitter feed soliciting audience participation, with all the facets of the microblogging world -- sometimes informative, other times insightful, or irreverent.
SEE FULL SHOW REVIEW Brainstorm - "Flat Earth"

 

At the start, I am paired with a stranger. We are the only two participants for this iteration of the piece. An assistant equips each of us with headphones and an iPod Nano. We follow her up Multnomah County Central Library’s grand staircase. She motions for us to take our seats at a table in a public reading room. Before us lay twin stacks of three books: Blindness by José Saramago, The Notebook, The Proof, and The Third Lie by Agota Kristof, and When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro. We sit in silence for two minutes. Then a hushed voice with a British accent comes through the headphones and reveals the library to be “dedicated to the collection of sounds.”
SEE FULL PERFORMANCE REVIEW

 

Andrew Dickson is neither licensed nor experienced as a life coach. He simply believes that no one is broken or requires fixing; everyone just needs a little help to bring their own answers out. He encourages us to see the life coaching process as a catalyst for working on our own lives. Dickson humorously launches each Life Coach session with a disclaimer reminding his audience they didn’t pay anything to attend, so they shouldn’t be too judgmental if they’re not terribly entertained. Life Coach lacks the energy and humor of Dickson’s previous TBA performances. Yet while not particularly amusing, Life Coach may be one of TBA’s most genuine and truly interactive offerings.
SEE FULL PERFORMANCE REVIEW

 

Portland's greatest interdisciplinary festival, TBA Festival, is back in 2012 with some of the most diverse and impressive programming it's had in years. Check out our picks in dance, theatre, performance, and music for a what's what in local talent and international ideas.

Sam Green & Yo La Tengo - The Love Song Of R. Buckminster Fuller

Wednesday, September 12th @ 6:30pm and 8:30pm @ Washington High School (SE Stark, Between 12th and 14th, Portland, OR 97214) $20 Members / $25 General Filmmaker Sam Green executes a "live documentary" witha live score by Yo La Tengo, as Green cues images and narrates a film that explores the utopian ethos of theorist and idea-weaver R. Buckminster Fuller. - VIVIAN HUA

 

See all PERFORMANCE-related picks

 

Nora Chipumire - Miriam

Friday, September 7th, 8:30pm Saturday, September 8th, 8:30pm Portland State University: Lincoln Performance Hall (1620 SW Park, Portland, OR 97201) $20 Members / $25 General Zimbabwe-born choreographer Nora Chipaumire and dancer Okwui Okpokwasili explore what it is to be feminine, personally and in society. Chipaumire's style is both rigid and delicate, befitting of true feminine ideals. - VIVIAN HUA

 

See all DANCE-related picks

 

Brainstorm / Sahel Sounds - Global And Mobile Pop

Monday, September 10th @ 10:30pm @ Washington High School (SE Stark, Between 12th and 14th, Portland, OR 97214) $5 Members / $7 General Local hyperpop band Brainstorm and African-inspired label Sahel Sounds curate an evening of projections, media, music performances, and more in a diverse celebration of cultural influences.This comes after Sahel Sounds and Brainstorm's collaboration and 7", where Brainstorm covered the music of Mdou Moctar. - VIVIAN HUA

 

See all MUSIC-related picks

 

Perforations

Perforations, a series of four works by Serbian and Croatian artists, got off to a bad start when TBA representatives walked through the audience line warning the show may induce claustrophobia and requires standing. For people already waiting in line to get in, this was irritating to hear.