Everything You Need to Know About the Risk/Reward Festival

A chamber play, a “Butch Queen,” an attack on the self-help industry, and a line of naked butts? You may be wondering what in the world the Risk/Reward Festival is all about, so we've put together a quick primer for you.

By Fiona McCann July 7, 2015

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Dani Tirrell. Photo by John Pai

Maybe you caught the picture of a line of naked butts we ran in our print magazine this month. (If not, see below). Or maybe you’ve heard whispers of some offbeat performance festival hitting PDX this hot weekend. But you still have questions: what’s it all about? What should I expect? And why the naked bottoms? We’re here to answer at least some of your questions about the two-week Risk/Reward festival—and possibly leave you with more. 

What is Risk/Reward? 
It’s an annual performance arts festival, now in its eighth year. This year, eight artists or performing groups were selected to create eight brand new pieces of performance art, each to clock in at under 20 minutes. 

What should I expect?
This year Risk/Reward kicks off with Markeith Wiley’s 31 & Counting, a dance performance about the experience of a black man in today’s America. There's also Faith Helma’s I hate positive thinking, which explores the self-help industry and the power of the mind through some madcap performance that includes “semi-coherent ranting.” Meanwhile, Nancy Ellis brings her comic and emotional personal story to stage through dance and theater, while Eowyn Emerald & Dancers explore human relationships to dance duets. And that’s all just THIS weekend.

If that all feels like your jam, you should know that next weekend features “a semi-patriotic, gender non-conforming Butch Queen” (Dani Tirrell), some feminist comedy improv about Springfield, Missouri (Katie Piatt), a performance piece where street art meets a dystopian future (Tim Smith-Stewart), and, from Jessica Jobaris, “a Shangri-La chamber play.”

Sounds interesting but how much will it set me back?
Tickets to Risk/Reward shows are $14-18 advance, $20 at the door, or $30 for both weekends.

Fine, I'm sold. When? Where? What are the details?
Risk/Reward kicks off this Friday, July 10 at the Artists Repertory Theatre. Performances take place at 7:30 pm on Friday and Saturday, and 5 pm on Sunday, July 12. The festival’s second half takes place from July 17–19, with performances at 7:30 pm on Friday and Saturday, and 5 pm on Sunday.

What's this about naked butts? 
Ask and you shall receive . . . 

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Jessica Jobaris's A Great Hunger. Photo courtesy Tim Summers

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