Sex We Can

Between Fertile Ground and regularly scheduled programming, Portland is full of new performance this month. Here's what I recommend this week.

Dance Naked Productions' latest show, Sex We Can: An Erotic Uprising, is a fun romp. My favorite moments were O'Brien's opening campaign speech-style monologue calling for an end to rape culture, and her comedic story about getting over her skepticism of cunnilingus and Portland's goddess fixation (a real, documented thing). There's also a disarmingly funny story about coming out as asexual, and a lot of delightful people speaking their truths. Oprah would be proud.

That said, my enjoyment was somewhat soured by the performance's penultimate piece, in which Wilhelm Reich impersonator said that the hope of a future sexual revolution lies with "postmenopausal women," effectively erasing what I see as an ongoing sexual revolution pioneered by young women and gender-non-conforming youth, who are miles ahead of the rest of us when it comes to understanding that sexism is part of a kyriarchy that also oppresses queer people and people of color.

Still, I commend O'Brien and Dance Naked Productions for gracefully and boldly taking on the challenging, important work of envisioning an alternative to the culture of bad sex and a profoundly poor understanding of consent we currently inhabit. I'm well-versed in the problem (see: everything I've ever fucking written) and I appreciate the prompt to get going on solutions. If you're sick of #MeToo hot takes and ready for real action on solving America's sexual dysfunction, there's much to appreciate here.

While not part of Fertile Ground, I'm still thinking about Nikki Weaver's autobiographical one-woman show, Weaving Women Together, long after actually seeing it. As an actor, Weaver's consistently great, and this performance, which she's workshopping in front of audiences through this weekend, is a poignant, funny theater pieces that really works. Solo shows can be disastrous—nothing like watching an actor talk to themselves about themselves onstage—but Weaver pulls it off because she's able to instantly inhabit the characters the piece introduces. It's also an honest, nuanced meditation on death, motherhood, the reverberations of childhood trauma (her mother died when Weaver was 10), and the legacies we inherit even from absent parents. What I liked most about Weaving Women Together was that it felt so complete, but allowed room for thematic complexity. It talks about some very hard things, and doesn't demand that they ever quite resolve. It's a wise, measured performance with a frenetic, funny-sad veneer, and I'm glad to have seen it.