Scott Kelman was a well-known director and performance teacher who, after building a reputation in New York and LA, moved to Portland to start the Brooklyn Bay performance space and produce the popular show Tao Soup (which I, in 2005 found to be a "refreshingly disciplined, self-aware exploration of the relationship between Eastern and Western thought"). Kelman died in 2007, but the effects of his teaching method—known as "kelmanworks"—are still being felt.
Currently running at Hipbone Studio is Man to Man, a show developed around Kelman's performance principles by the UK-based company the Kelman Group. I asked director/company founder Bob Lockwood how a company based in West Yorkshire came to produce a show in a studio theater on East Burnside.
"Essentially Taru [Sinclair] and I worked with Scott and members of his performance and workshop companies since 2001. I co-directed a piece with him when I first came to Portland in 2003, and in 2004 contributed to the process of development for Tao Soup (his last complete work).
"Man to Man was our first full exploration using kelmanworks to develop a performance from a pre-existing script. In autumn of 2006, Taru spent five weeks working intensively with Scott in Portland and one of the focuses for this time was the exploration of solo performance. Man to Man is a response to the work, conversations, and findings undergone during this visit."
The show itself is a more-than-worthwhile solo performance, directed by Lockwood and starring Taru Sinclair, about a German woman who crossdresses her way through German history from the Weimar Republic through Hitler's rise to the Russian occupation. The script itself isn't particularly interesting—these days, post-Hedwig and I Am My Own Wife, German transvestites are borderline passé—but Sinclair is simply magnetic as she paces the stage, raging and mourning. The intimate Hipbone Studio is a perfect venue for a performance like this one: It's a rough space, wood-floored and high-ceilinged, with a Jazzercise studio upstairs and a comic book store in the basement, and the makeshift quality of the staging adds to the impression of seeing something intimate and rare.