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Image: Jeff Busby

Small Metal Objects

TBA

Small Metal Objects

Back to Back Theatre
Pioneer Square
September 9-12; $25
PICA.org/tba

Over its seven years of existence, the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s Time-Based Art Festival, or TBA, has honed a streak of rebellious creativity. It’s not enough to think outside of the box, after all—the
box must be torn asunder, tossed in the air, and maybe even set on fire. Pushing boundaries is good, but demolishing those boundaries? Even better.

Which makes the subversively potent play Small Metal Objects a perfect example of what it means to experience TBA in 2009. On the surface it’s modern theater, a kind of Guy Ritchie–esque caper full of wisecracking hoods and foul-mouthed dupes involved in a shady deal gone wrong. Except in this case, the actors, members of Australia’s Back to Back Theatre, all have developmental or intellectual disabilities, which gives a solid tweaking to the old tropes of good and bad, normal and abnormal.

Then there’s the presentation. The audience is assembled on a small riser overlooking a public area (Pioneer Square is the group’s dream venue) and given headphones. In this slightly sensory-deprived state, we watch as Small Metal Objects uses Portland’s living room as a bustling backdrop, clueless pedestrians mingling with the play’s principals, who slowly emerge from the crowd as the plot unfolds. And if one of the square’s more colorful “characters” decides to throw himself into the action? Well, then, the proverbial box is destroyed—just another day at TBA.—Bart Blasengame

Bolero Variations

Raimund Hoghe
September 11-12; 8:30 PM
Newmark Theatre

Armed with a seemingly infinite collection of boleros, Hoghe and his dancers throw their bodies into various interpretations of this classic slow-tempo Latin musical form in a celebration of physical virtuosity. Even as Hoghe morphs his body until he resembles a dwarf or a hunchback, his movements remain beautiful.

Crushed

Locust
September 7-8; 6:30 PM
The Works at Washington High School

In this visceral dance/music/video performance, the line between chaos and composure is blurred, and the dancers seem to battle against their very own bodies for control. Arms and legs pop and flay in a combination of contemporary and hip-hop dance styles, all backed by a wall of images and pulsing electronic music.

Block Ice & Propane

Erik Friedlander
September 10-12; 8:30 PM
Winningstad Theater

Friedlander has performed with everyone from Courtney Love to John Zorn, but here the cellist takes the stage alone as photos of long-ago vacations taken by his father, Lee Friedlander, are displayed in the background. The music and images combine for a story of adventure, bonding, and family tension.

Maybe Forever

Stuart and Gehmacher
September 4-5; 8:30 PM
Newmark Theatre

Dancers Meg Stuart and Philipp Gehmacher turn the thrill and promise of young love into movement in Maybe Forever. As singer-songwriter Niko Hafkenscheid strums his guitar, the pair act out a relationship on the verge, tiptoeing the delicate line between happiness and heartbreak.