Books & Talks
7:30 p.m. Thu, Mississippi Studios, SOLD OUT
Helen Zaltzman brings her award-winning podcast about the secrets of language to Portland, in an already-sold-out live event. The Allusionist, named best new podcast on iTunes in 2015, is known for hilarious deep dives into the origins of words, discussions about crossword puzzles, and the occasional toe-dip into graphology (the Holmesian art of deducing personality quirks from handwriting).
9 a.m.–6 p.m. Sat, various venues, $15–20
The literary extravaganza formerly known as Wordstock returns with a new name–Portland Book Festival–and the same one-day roster of readings, conversations, and authors, this year with added actors! Tom Hanks and Abbi Jacobson are on the 2018 lineup, alongside Rachel Kushner, Jonathan Lethem, and locals Patrick deWitt and Leni Zumas. Need some help navigating the scrum? Check out our picks.
8 p.m. Thu, 7:30 and 10 p.m. Fri–Sat, Helium Comedy Club, $20–23
Posehn owns a serious comedy niche: a metalhead telling nerdy, jovial jokes about farting and fatherhood.
8 p.m. Fri, Newmark Theatre, $35–45
In France, Elmaleh is famous. He sells out arenas. His breakups are covered by the tabloids. But in a serious feat of cultural (not to mention linguistic) translation, he recently made his way into the world of English-language stand-up, and now splits his time between Los Angeles and New York. He’s flashier than your average American comic: when performing in France, he springs about the stage, twists his face dramatically, even pulls out a guitar. But in the US, he’s worked to dial back the theatricality, without abandoning it entirely.
7 and 10 p.m. Fri, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, $39.50–299
For its 30th anniversary tour, MST3k brings back all the classics. With two different B-movies to riff on (the 7 p.m. show features a screening of Canadian sci-fi film The Brain, while sword-and-sorcery flick Deathstalker II is up at the 10 p.m. show), audiences can expect shiny new sketches from Jonah Heston, quick-witted robots, and even original host and creator Joel Hodgson back in his iconic red jumpsuit as Joel Robinson for the first time in 25 years.
7:30 p.m. Fri–Sat, 2:30 p.m. Sun, New Expressive Works, $15–25
PDX Contemporary Ballet founder Briley Neugebauer has said she takes modern dance and puts pointe shoes on it. This season, the company’s fourth, muses on existentialism and Richard Yates’s novel Revolutionary Road, opening with an in-the-round production about the choices we make as we grow up.
7:30 p.m. Fri–Sat, 2 p.m. Sun, Polaris Dance Theatre, $17.50–25
Polaris Dance Theatre’s new show comments on our tumultuous political climate, exploring how we move through a divisive reality. The show features work from longtime artistic director and Polaris cofounder Robert Guitron, as well as from Polaris’s new sister company, ELa FaLa Collective—an all-female dance company headed by Brazilian choreographer and dancer Barbara Lima.
7:30 p.m. Thu, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, $25–75
What can a 19th-century Russian composer and a 21st-century Canadian rapper possibly have in common? One Oregon Symphony show, at least. Three vocalists and a rapper (Drake not present) join the symphony to mash up the composer’s Fifth Symphony (Tchaikovsky not present) with hip-hop hits.
8 p.m. Thu, Winningstad Theatre, $23–25
The 27-year-old Virginia native brings her fresh strain of melancholic Appalachian bluegrass to town. Freeman’s sophomore album, last fall’s Letters Never Read, is testament to her lyrical and vocal honesty, shot through with twangy notes of abandonment and lost love.
8:30 p.m. Thu, Wonder Ballroom, $20–25
Greta Kline, who’s been praised by the New York Times as “one of the leading lights of today’s fiercely independent singer-songwriter scene,” launched her musical career posting DIY home recordings on Bandcamp. Today, the 24-year-old Kline—who performs under the name Frankie Cosmos, with a backing band—is a fount of upbeat, quirky, and emotional songs, as showcased on her third and latest album, Vessel.
7:30 p.m. Thu–Sat, Shout House, $15–25
Two years ago, local writer and Write Around Portland cofounder Ben Moore presented a series of performance pieces based off suicide letters and research his grandfather obsessively collected for over a decade. Now, two new shows—complete with live music, projected images, and vocals—are set to premiere as Moore continues his own obsessive study of life’s value.
7:30 p.m. Fri–Sat, 5 p.m. Sun, Chapel Theatre, $15–30
The 2001 Pulitzer-winning story of sibling rivalry by Suzan-Lori Parks makes its way to Milwaukie’s new Chapel Theatre. Brothers Lincoln and Booth (dark humor thrives in this show) compete to be the best in what the New York Times chose as the best American play of the past 25 years—a decision that required “very little debate,” according to chief theater critic Ben Brantley.
CLOSING La Traviata
7:30 p.m. Thu and Sat, Keller Auditorium, $35–250
Portland Opera opens the season with Verdi’s beloved La Traviata, which, with its themes of sexual politics and heartbreak, is more relevant in the modern world than you might expect from a 165-year-old opera. It’s directed by Elise Sandell and conducted by Christopher Larkin, making his first return to the company since 2009’s The Turn of the Screw. Soprano Aurelia Florian (called “incandescent” earlier this year by the San Francisco Chronicle) makes her Portland debut as Violetta Valéry, with Jonathan Boyd (who performed the titular role in 2017′s Faust) as Alfredo Germont.
7:30 p.m. Thu–Sat, 2 p.m. Sun, Milagro Theatre, $10–40
When a young bride’s imagination is stolen by an alebrije (fantastical creature), what’s her groom to do? The answer: meld present-day San Luis Potosí, 1936 Xochimilco, and the jungly afterlife. This brand-new, bilingual show—written and directed by Georgina Escobar, with original music by Luis Guerra—is Milagro’s annual Día de Muertos production and serves as the kickoff to the theater company’s 35th season.
CLOSING A Life
7:30 p.m. Thu–Fri, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sat, 2 p.m. Sun, The Armory, $25–57
Portland Center Stage commissioned this play by Adam Bock—though it actually premiered two years ago, in New York City—about a middle-aged, recently dumped gay man who decides to look for answers in astrology. (Can’t hurt ... right?)
OPENING Books & Boxes
Noon–9 p.m. Fri, noon–5 p.m. Sat, Roll-Up Studio & Gallery, FREE
This whimsical exhibition presents 10 individual artists’ unique approaches to book arts and assemblage—think mixed-media collages and sculptural scenes. Maybe it’ll even inspire you to tackle that unread stack by your nightstand (or just take scissor and paint and transform them into something new...).
Noon–6 p.m. Thu–Sun, Ori Gallery, FREE
Curated by Ori co-founder Maya Vivas and featuring artists April Felipe, Habiba El-Sayed and Natalia Arbelaez, Inheritance uses ceramics to explore ideas of identity, belonging, power, and loss.
5–9 p.m. Fri, 5–10:30 p.m. Sat, Landmark Saloon and Hawthorne Theatre, $10–25
If you needed proof that the city has a booming podcast scene, look no further than this second annual festival. With a whopping 22 shows each presenting a 20-minute version of their podcast—from the most metal things in the universe to deep dives into LGBTQ stereotypes to terrorizing comedians in haunted places—there’s a little something for everyone.