The Essentials

12 Things to See and Do in Portland: October 2019

Ta-Nehisi Coates in town, OBT roars into its 30th anniversary season, Teicher levels up on tap dance, and All Jane brings the laughs.

By Rebecca Jacobson and Fiona McCann September 23, 2019 Published in the October 2019 issue of Portland Monthly

Ta-Nehisi Coates

1. Ta-Nehisi Coates

Coates, the National Book Award winner, MacArthur Fellow, and current author of Black Panther and Captain America comics—whose 2014 essay “The Case for Reparations” kick-started a national conversation that culminated in a congressional hearing this June at which he testified (pause for breath)—also released his debut novel, The Water Dancer, last month. Get closer to the force at the Schnitz. Oct 21, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

2. Rene Denfeld

The Portland author has already channeled her background as a private investigator into two engrossing novels about missing children and death row inmates. In her third, The Butterfly Girl, Denfeld revisits the protagonist of The Child Finder—herself a skilled investigator—as she’s drawn to a 12-year-old girl fleeing a dangerous home. Oct 1, Powell’s City of Books

3. Mother, Come Home

When his mom dies, 7-year-old Thomas finds solace in a fantasy world. His dad spirals into delusion. That’s the premise of Paul Hornschemeier’s Mother, Come Home, a graphic novel published in 2003 by Portland’s Dark Horse Comics. Now, theater company Third Rail delivers a multimedia-rich adaptation to the stage. Oct 5–12, CoHo Theatre

4. Hidden Stories

Boom Arts consistently brings captivating performances from around the world to town—up next is this show from France’s Begat Theater, co-presented by Hand2Mouth. Set on the city’s streets, audiences will don headphones, privy to a handful of stories as they traipse through downtown in what Begat calls “an invisible performance” exploring secrets and anonymity. Oct 11–13

5. Caleb Teicher & Company

Yes, Teicher is a tap dancer. But the twenty-something plays with a slew of other percussive and vernacular styles, including Lindy Hop and jazz, which he injects with oodles of charm and virtuosic skill. At this White Bird–presented show, his company performs work set to live recordings of Ella Fitzgerald, Bach’s Goldberg Variations, and more. Oct 17–19, Lincoln Hall

6. Portland Dance Film Fest

Film festivals and dance festivals are de rigueur. But did you know Portland has its very own dance film festival? Now in its third year, PDFF invites submissions of narrative and nonnarrative film, animation, and docs that showcase dance on camera. The final selections are screened over four nights in October—past years have flaunted work from all over, Belgium to Brazil, Australia to Vietnam. Oct 3–6, Whitsell Auditorium

7. OBT Roar(s)

Oregon Ballet Theatre kicks off its 30th anniversary season with a trio of visionary works from decades past: In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, William Forsythe’s fiercely off-kilter 1987 piece; Stravinsky Violin Concerto, George Balanchine’s abstract work from 1972; and the revival of Dennis Spaight’s Scheherazade, the first ballet choreographed for OBT. Oct 5–12, Keller Auditorium

8. All Jane Comedy Festival

Now in its eighth year, All Jane consistently draws some of the sharpest women—both locals and out-of-towners—in comedy today. Previous headliners include Fortune Feimster, Jackie Kashian, and Maria Bamford. Oct 2–6

9. Thom Yorke

Joined by longtime producer Nigel Godrich and visual artist Tarik Barri, the Radiohead front man’s Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes tour promises intricate bleeps and bloops, trippy graphics, and hopefully some wonderfully weird swaying and swiveling. “If there were ever a rock star to affirm the power and necessity of dancing, to return it to the realm of vital human expression, it is Yorke,” wrote the Washington Post’s dance critic after seeing the show last December. Oct 22, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

10. Redwood

What happens when an online ancestry search reveals that your fiancé’s ancestors kept your forebears as slaves in antebellum Kentucky? Playwright Brittany K. Allen chomps into that thorny question, assisted by a hip-hop dance class chorus, in this world-premiere production at Portland Center Stage. Oct 26–Nov 17, The Armory

Read It

Portlander Alison Farrell takes three kids on a ramble through a Pacific Northwest forest in The Hike (Chronicle Books, Oct 9), which lovingly labels the flora and fauna they meet along the way—and intros smaller readers to navigating the natural world.

See It

Portland chamber music group 45th Parallel teams up with the Oregon Jewish Museum on October 22 and 23 to celebrate composer Leonard Bernstein, performing his work live at the museum alongside a concurrent exhibit of photographs, personal items, scores, and more.

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