PoMo Picks

Top Things to Do This Weekend: May 24–27

Sticking around town for the long weekend? Portland delivers with ballet, sketch comedy, concerts by Bon Iver and David Byrne, and much more.

By Rebecca Jacobson, Fiona McCann, and Natasha Tandler May 24, 2018

 obt1339 cover image dancer xuan cheng photo yi yin jnw9zq

Catch Oregon Ballet Theatre principal dancer Xuan Cheng at the company's season closer, titled ... Closer.

Books & Talks

Michael Ondaatje

7:30 p.m. Thu, Powell's City of Books, FREE
Michael Ondaatje (author of the Booker Prize-winning The English Patient) joins poet Mary Szybist to discuss his newest novel, Warlight. Described by the Washington Post as “an elegiac thriller [with] the immediate allure of a dark fairy tale,” the book traces the lives of two London siblings left in the care of a stranger known as “the Moth” when World War II ends. (Their parents have inexplicably absconded to Singapore.) As the brother and sister meet the Moth’s motley crew of friends, all of whom served in covert positions during the war, they become entangled in a web of wartime secrets.


Nacho Gold

8 p.m. Fri–Sat, Siren Theater, $16–19
Sketch comedy troupe the 3rd Floor spent 20 years plying their goofball trade in Portland before calling it quits in 2016. Then last year a half-dozen 3rd Floor alums decided to give it another go, under a new name. Behold the results.



7:30 p.m. Thu–Sat, BodyVox Dance Center, $29–102
Oregon Ballet Theatre brings the audience, ahem, closer in this program of new work by the company’s own dancers, presented alongside Helen Simoneau’s Departures to just 175 audience members at BodyVox. New tracks by Grammy-winning musician RAC are also in the mix.


Bon Iver

8 p.m. Thu, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, $45–100
Soothing vocals, melancholic lyrics, and guitar strums: those are the components that have brought Bon Iver international success. 22, A Millionthe band’s latest albumdeparts from that acoustic sound, instead embracing a mix of electronic tunes, samples, and loops to accompany lead singer Justin Vernon’s highly manipulated vocals.

David Byrne

7 p.m. Sun, Keller Auditorium, $50–180
The former Talking Heads lead vocalist has been busy since the new-wave band split up in the early ’90s, collaborating with the likes of Fatboy Slim and Twyla Tharp, writing a musical about Joan of Arc, and advocating for urban cycling—in addition to releasing 12 solo albums. Tonight, joined by a 12-piece band, he’ll perform tunes from his latest record, American Utopia, alongside Talking Heads classics.


CLOSING Watsonville: Some Place Not Here

7:30 p.m. Thu–Sat,  Milagro Theatre, $20–27
Milagro ends its season with playwright Cherríe Moraga’s bilingual story of a group of Chicana women who take part in a strike at their cannery while politicians debate the merits of an anti-immigration bill. For more on Milagro—and its unique struggles in the Trump era—check out our recent story on the company.


7:30 p.m. Thu–Sat, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sun, Artists Repertory Theatre, $25–50
There’s no greater glue to unite two seemingly incompatible teenagers than a deep analysis of Walt Whitman’s "Song of Myself," right? In this drama by Lauren Gunderson (one of the most produced playwrights in America), two classmates—Anthony is popular, athletic, and polite, while Caroline is feisty but homebound due to illness—find that the more familiar they become with Whitman’s poem, the closer they grow to one another.


7:30 p.m. Thu–Sat, 2 and 7 p.m. Sun, Portland Playhouse, $34
For Fences, the seventh August Wilson play staged by Portland Playhouse, the Northeast Portland theater company taps Obie-winning director Lou Bellamy to helm the story of a hardworking African-American family man in 1950s Pittsburgh. Denzel Washington tackled the lead role in the recent film adaptation; here it’s played by Lester Purry, a veteran of Wilson’s work.

OPENING Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.

7:30 p.m. Fri–Sat, 2 p.m. Sun, CoHo Theater, $25–45
Language is loaded—perhaps especially when it comes to sex and gender. Alice Birch’s play, presented here by Third Rail, blasts open those complications. “Kaleidoscopic, unruly, searing, sharply funny,” wrote the Guardian.

Visual Art

Robert Lyons

10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Thu–Sat, Elizabeth Leach Gallery, FREE
In his latest series of photographs, critically acclaimed photographer Robert Lyons—best known for his work capturing the Egyptian landscape and the horrors of the Rwandan genocide—turns his lens to a familiar place, his hometown of Easthampton, Massachusetts. In One Eye Crying (from a German expression that roughly translates as “with mixed feelings”), Lyons depicts his internal tensions around returning to the US after many years abroad by presenting scenes that “appear both familiar and exotic.”


Noon–6 p.m. Thu–Sat, Ori Gallery, FREE
New York–based Alisa Sikelianos-Carter explores black hair as armor, weaponry, and royal symbol, through collages of braids, dreads, and black textured hair: what she calls a response to—and an escape from—the policing and dehumanization of black bodies.

Special Events

Vanport Mosaic Festival

Various times thru Mon, various venues, prices vary
Seventy years ago, Vanport—Oregon's second-largest city and the largest public housing project in the country—was destroyed by a flood. This fest, now in its third year, memorializes that tragedy and the city that was, with a robust lineup of tours, concerts, movie screenings, discussions, and more. Also on deck: an exhibit of new paintings by Dutch-born Portland artist Henk Pander (more on that here) and the return of Rich Rubin's play, Left Hook, which we covered last year. For more on Vanport, check out our interview with a survivor of the deluge.

Racing to Change: Oregon’s Civil Rights Years

10 a.m.–5 p.m. Thu–Sat, noon–5 p.m. Sun, Oregon Historical Society, FREE–$11
The Oregon Black Pioneers—a nonprofit dedicated to African American history—curate a new exhibit about the ’60s and ’70s in this state, from protest movements to clashes with police to housing and employment discrimination.

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