FROM NOW UNTIL February, nearly every available performance space in Portland will house something you've never seen before. This is the beauty of Fertile Ground, the city's proudly uncurated festival of new, homegrown performance. With passes holding steady at $50, low-cost single tickets, and plenty of free performances, attending Fertile Ground may be the most efficient way to flood your theater-brain with every possible definition of performance. From socially engaged theater to conceptual art involving pigs to Liberace's glittery hot pants, here are (merely a few of) our best bets for this year's festival.
A Cavalcade of Awesome
January's been busy for the purveyors of serialized, partially improvised comedy at Action/Adventure Theatre. Not only did they just launch the second season of (very funny) Sidekicks!, they've also prepared this slate of readings of original plays-in-progress, A Cavalcade of Awesome—featuring a cavalcade of subjects, including ghost towns, death, Prince Harry, and sweet, sweet summer jams.
Action/Adventure Theater, 1050 SE Clinton, Jan 25-28 & Feb 1, 7:30 pm, $8, action-adventure.squarespace.com
David Saffert's 40th Birthday— The Liberace Edition!
Instead of just eating a lot of cake and making unreasonable demands of his friends like the rest of us, David Saffert plans to celebrate his birthday by embodying the soul of Liberace. Saffert's 40th is the final chapter in a long line of annual birthday shows, making this year's jazzy glitter-bomb a touch bittersweet. Go see him in his crunchy wig and shiny outfits before it's too late!
Curious Comedy Theater, 5225 NE MLK, Jan 23, 24, 30, and 31, 7:30 pm, $12
The frowny-faced emojis on overunder arts' promotional materials speak the truth: down is a play about sadness, "aimed at exploring the lived experience of depression." Down also boasts what's arguably one of the festival's most experimental stage set-ups: simultaneous video projection and live performance, with a partial barrier between performance and viewing spaces, mimicking the bell jar isolation of depression.
Museum of Modern Life, 4504 SE Milwaukie, Jan 22-26, 7:30 pm, $10, overunderarts.org
I'd Rather Goya Robbed Me of My Sleep Than Some Other Son of a Bitch
Boom Arts received a Precipice Fund grant from the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art for this project—to no one's surprise, because Goya promises to be one of Fertile Ground's weirder productions (in a great way), pulling elements from performance and conceptual art—plus pigs!—into an investigation of art's value amid financial ruin.
Disjecta, 8371 N Interstate, Jan 28-29, 7:30 pm, $15, boomarts.org
Roots, Reality, and Rhyme
"Black women are more likely to live in poverty and be victims of interpersonal violence than many of their peers," Portland poet and educator Turiya Autry writes about the impetus for her new play, Roots, Reality, and Rhyme. "These are not easy things to discuss and they are not easy things to survive." But discuss them Autry will, in this, her first-ever one-woman show, through autobiography and multimedia performance.
Conduit Dance Inc., 918 SW Yamhill #401, Jan 24, 25, and 31, & Feb 1, 2 pm, $10, turiya- autry.com
Time, A Fair Hustler
Hand2Mouth Theatre puts Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho front and center in this new play, a case study on nostalgia for "the raw, youthful, and seedy Portland of 1990" and the Portland we live in now. Employing interviews with people who appeared in My Own Private Idaho and archival images and music, Time won't premiere fully formed until July, making this workshop presentation a worthwhile peek into Hand2Mouth's process.
Artists Repertory Theatre, 1515 SW Morrison, Jan 26, 7:30 pm, free, hand2mouththeatre.org