(Better than "TBA for Idiots," no?)
I've had a few people ask for recommendations on stuff to see at the Time-Based Art festival, which opens Sept 9—specifically, picks tailored to those who are a little leery of the contemporary art scene, but definitely identify as TBA-curious.*
TBA for Idiots TBA Picks for the Discriminating Performance Goer has to include Zachary Oberzan's Flooding with Love for the Kid—David Morrell's novel First Blood, which is about Rambo, as performed by one man in a studio apartment. I'm not sure how this will hold up to that great fan remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark that screened at the Hollywood a few years ago, but it does look to be fun of a sort that people don't necessarily associate with TBA.
•In a similar vein, Nature Theater of Oklahoma (of which Oberzan is a member) are recreating Romeo and Juliet. I've wanted to see this show since I read the New York Times review, so I'll just direct you there.
• Monologist Mike Daisey is doing a show about the fact that Apple products are built in sweatshop conditions in China, and also that they are intelligently designed and culturally significant and, for many of us, basically irresistible. Daisey's monologues are most impressive for the way they are structured—it's like a guided epiphany, having the perfectly enjoyable experience of listening to an interesting talk, then gradually realizing how intelligently and surprisingly and deliberately the pieces fit together. Plus he is smart as hell, and funny, and cares very much about communicating his ideas clearly to his audience, which is not something that you can take for granted in a contemporary art festival. Here's an excerpt of my interview with Daisey; I'm still working on polishing up the complete transcript, which came in a 6,000 words, of which possibly 100 were said by me. (Comedians make notoriously unfunny interviews, but monologists apparently really do love to talk.)
•The Wooster Group's anti-war film There Is Still Time..Brother has a few things going for it: The Wooster Group is one of those crazy influential performance art troupes that you hear about all the time, but has never shown in Portland before. (Fun fact: Mike Daisey is frequently compared to Spalding Gray, who was a founding member of the Wooster Group.) The show is a TBA steal at only $10. And it should be interesting to see how the relationship of content to form plays out—the screen wraps in a full circle, and its up to an audience member to 360-degree projection is revealed is up to the audience, so the narrative is different with every viewing (check out a schematic here).
Do yourself a favor and get over to the Works to check out both the visual art installations and the late-night scene, too. Matt Stangel wrote a rundown of the fest's viz art offerings—which, yes, do include two artists burying themselves alive—and here are Andrew Tonry's thoughts on the late-night lineup. The big festival opener this year is Rufus Wainwright—soprano Janis Kelly will perform excerpts from Rufus' opera Prima Donna, and then Wainwright himself will tear through a set list of his own old works and a few covers. I'm neither an opera buff nor a Rufus fan, so I'm gonna pass on this one, but it looks to be a well-rounded program, if that's your scene.
*look, making this shit funny is basically impossible, okay?