EVERYONE'S FEAR, when embarking upon a night of "contemporary performance," is that they'll end up trapped in a theater watching a mime drink a glass of water for two hours. (Right? That's a pretty universal fear?)
The aptly named Risk/Reward festival is a curated lineup of six contemporary West Coast artists. Each artist is given 20 minutes of stage time, which means even in a worst-case scenario, our boogey-mime would have to drink its water pretty fast.
There are no mimes on this year's bill, however. (There never are. It's a silly fear. Get over it.) Instead, we've got four Portland acts and two down from Seattle, curated by some of the Pacific Northwest's smartest artists and arts administrators (including reps from PICA and On the Boards) and operating on the bleeding edge of contemporary performance art, theater, and dance. The risk is small—only 20 minutes! The rewards can be pretty great.
Laura Heit—The award-winning Portland puppeteer works in stop-motion and animated art, with an emphasis on the handmade; her Risk/Reward offering builds hand-drawn worlds within worlds.
Ilvs Strauss—Pronounce it "Elvis" for scene-points! And accuracy. Strauss is a mixed-media artist from Seattle who's known for witty slideshow presentations; she's been described as the "artistic love child of Miranda July and Tracy + the Plastics."
The Neutral Fembot Project—A collaboration between Grace Carter, Camille Cettina, and Anne Sorce, their Risk/Reward show, Untitled #______, is a performance-art piece inspired by the work of photographer Cindy Sherman, with original music composed and performed by Ron Mason Gassaway.
Erin Pike—Among the projects of Seattle theater-maker Pike: a piece called Segway Patrol and Mating Dance that features two Segway riders gliding around each other in an intricate choreographed mating ritual, soundtracked by R. Kelly's "Pregnant." I mean... we're in.
Lucy Lee Yim—A member of Portland dance center Flock, Yim's work investigates identity and the body. Her piece Devastation Melody promises an unusual perspective on sadness and sorrow.
Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble—PETE is doing some of the most interesting theater work in town these days; they'll be previewing their new show, (after thought).