The Essentials

12 Things to See and Do in Portland: April 2019

Laika unleashes Missing Link, Ranky Tanky plays the Newmark, and a world-premiere play about Sacajawea comes to Portland Center Stage.

By Rebecca Jacobson and Fiona McCann March 26, 2019 Published in the April 2019 issue of Portland Monthly

1. Missing Link

US release, Apr 12
Local stop-motion animation giant Laika doubles down on local lore with its hotly anticipated new movie,
Missing Link, the story of monster expert and myth investigator Sir Lionel Frost (above right, voiced by Hugh Jackman) and the Pacific Northwest’s legendary—and surprisingly articulate—Sasquatch-like beast (left, Zach Galifianakis).

2. Ranky Tanky

Apr 1, Newmark Theatre
Drawing on Gullah music—the spirituals and work songs of slave descendants on the Georgia and South Carolina coasts—this quintet blends jazz, gospel, and R&B to soul-shattering effect. Lead singer Quiana Parler, who is Gullah herself, holds it down with powerhouse vocals.

3. Susan Seubert

Apr 16–June 1, Froelick Gallery
The award-winning Portland photographer turns her lens on grief in
A Typology of Lament, a series of photographs of delicate lace handkerchiefs—for wiping tears, perhaps?—that the artist says “tend towards stereotypes of femininity.” They’ve all been rendered using the 19th-century technique of wet plate collodion, a process that produces a negative image on glass from which prints are made.

4. Oregon Book Awards

Apr 22, The Armory
On one night every year, scribes throughout the city and state come together to accept accolades, celebrate successes, and rub shoulders with their readers at this bibliophilic hootenanny. The 2019 ceremony will be emceed by local lit empress Cheryl Strayed.

5. Philadanco

Apr 24, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
Founded in 1970 to create opportunities for black dancers, this Philadelphia company has earned national regard for its commitment to showcasing African American dance traditions. White Bird brings the troupe to the Schnitz for its Portland debut.

6. Caitlin Starling

Apr 2, Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing
A caver on a foreign planet finds herself pitted against the manipulative and deceitful Em in The Luminous Dead, a high-stakes debut by local writer Caitlin Starling that Publishers Weekly calls a “claustrophobic, horror-leaning tour de force.” Starling is in conversation with Hugo winner Sarah Gailey.

7. Director's Choice

Apr 11–14, Oregon Ballet Theatre
Oregon Ballet Theatre artistic director Kevin Irving—a contemporary dancer turned ballet master—curates some of the company’s acclaimed recent contemporary works from Gioconda Barbuto, resident choreographer Nicolo Fonte, and Spain’s Nacho Duato, for a best-of show at the Newmark. Local pianist Hunter Noack performs the Franz Liszt score live for the evening’s final performance.

8. How to Keep an Alien

Apr 12–May 5, New Expressive Works, Corrib Theatre
Irish actor and playwright Sonya Kelly’s humorous and moving play chronicles her real-life fall for an Australian stage manager and their subsequent wrangling with the Irish government to prove their love and avoid her girlfriend’s deportation. It was hailed by the Irish Times as “a stirring dossier of an accelerated romance.” In this Corrib production, Sara Hennessy plays Kelly.

9. Terrible, Thanks For Asking

Apr 26, Revolution Hall
In a world of superficial small talk and manicured Instagram posts, the podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking is a snot-streaked antidote, in the best way possible. Host Nora McInerny, whose first husband died of brain cancer at age 35, tells stories of heartbreak, loss, and grief with nuance and heart (and, somehow, humor). This stage show adds live music and multimedia pizzazz.

10. Crossing Mnisose

Apr 13–May 5, The Armory
Sacajawea sometimes gets rendered as a mere sidekick to Lewis and Clark on their westward journey. Consider this Portland Center Stage world premiere—written by Mary Kathryn Nagle, a playwright, attorney, and Cherokee Nation citizen—a corrective to that, tracing Sacajawea’s story to present-day struggles for land rights.

Read It

Grace Paley wrote vivid short stories and was a tenacious political activist. Now, after 25 years out of print, Grace Paley’s Life Stories—a biography by local writer Judith Arcana, herself a pioneer of ’70s-era abortion work—is available again, after a Kickstarter campaign by Portland’s Eberhardt Press.

Hear It

On Anna Tivel’s fourth album, The Question, the Portland singer-songwriter brings raspy, intimate vocals and vivid imagery to Americana tracks that touch on themes of fear, loneliness, and belonging. Mark your calendar for her May 2 show at the OMSI Planetarium.

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