An entirely arbitrary summation of 2011's performance highlights. ALISON HALLETT
Best Anal Sex Scene That Made Audiences Palpably Uncomfortable—When two dudes hooked up in a park in Angels in America, there was thrusting and through-the-pants penis touching. Portland Playhouse's audience blushed.
Best/Worst Trend—2011 was the year of the stand-up comedy showcase. Some of them were well curated and hilarious, and some were disorganized and indifferently booked. Just because bars can host comedy doesn't mean they should host comedy. Here's hoping the worst aspects of this trend self-correct in 2012.
Most Meta—Our Shoes Are Red/the Performance Lab's An Oak Tree featured a play within a magic show within a play, and cast a brand-new actor every night. DID YOUR BRAIN EXPLODE YET?
Best Incoherent Mumbling—William Hurt.
Best Aesthetic Decision Couched as a Historical One—Portland Center Stage's all-black version of Oklahoma! claimed historical accuracy as justification for its casting, but my arch-nemesis over at the Willamette Week, theater critic Ben Waterhouse, advanced a plausible alternative theory: "I think [Portland Center Stage's Chris Coleman] wanted to work with a cast of really good, black singers and came up with a historical framework to sell it to the board."
Best Hipster Theater—Competition in this category grows fiercer every year, but the Working Theatre Collective's The Peter Pan Project proved hip young people can produce work that's heartfelt and earnest, even if their facial hair is ironic.
Best Open Assault on a Subscriber Base—Third Rail Rep's The Pain and the Itch took direct aim at the hypocrisy of the kind of affluent liberals who buy African art and subscribe to local theater companies. Runner-up in this category: God of Carnage at Artists Rep. Conclusion? White people are terrible!
Best Show That Sounded Boring but Ended Up Being Great—Theatre Vertigo's The Adding Machine was, actually, about an adding machine, and I loved it. Go figure!!!
Best/Only Reference to the Dollanganger Family—Camille Cettina's love letter to her own precocious childhood reading habits, Mr. Darcy Dreamboat, included a shoutout to V.C. Andrews' novel about pale teenagers having sibling-sex.
Number of Times I Heard Comedian Ron Funches Tell That One Joke About Blackberries—Counting his appearance on Conan? 47. It's still pretty funny though.