Still image from Distancias film

Artist Profile: Moriviví Theatre in collaboration with Hand2Mouth

Moriviví Theatre in collaboration with Hand2Mouth (Portland, OR): Distancias Digital devised theatre work

In a new cut of the full-length documentary-style digital devised theatre work, Moriviví Theatre and Hand2Mouth premiere a work that will speak to so many of us about our experiences during the pandemic of the last year and a half.


Distancias is an exploration of the distance we have been experiencing during the pandemic. Through a series of vignettes, three Latinx artists explore feelings of isolation, separation anxiety, and loneliness while also traversing their longing for a homeland, a home-people, a communidad that is rooted in their cultura.


Giovanni Alva is a theatre artist who likes to tell stories and help others tell theirs. He holds a BA in theatre arts from Humboldt State University and has worked in Portland at Milagro, Portland Playhouse, Action/ Adventure, CoHo, Roosevelt High School, and Hand2Mouth. Robi Arce is an actor, director and physical theatre poet. Robi holds an MFA in Ensemble-Based Physical Theatre from Dell’Arte International. He has performed, toured, and lead workshops in Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. His work is diverse, from theaters to churches, plazas and schools, bringing theatrical and educational shows to all. Fueled by social justice and change, his passion is to create a physical, dynamic and poetic theatre that connects with people as sports connects with the fans. Michael Cavazos is a Queer Chicano theatre maker and visual artist. He is the author of the play “Gritos y Chismesitos” and co-author of “Chic and Sassy” and “Chic and Sassy: The Higher the Hair, the Closer to God.” Before moving to Portland, he was a member of the sketch comedy troupe Gender Offenders and performed on many New York City stages, including the Beechman Theatre, Cherry Lane Theatre, The Culture Project, and P.S.122. Michael directed and performed in the theatrical concert, “Universo,” for Hand2Mouth and has worked with Imago, Milagro, Crave, Profile and Portland Center Stage. He is a company member at Hand2Mouth and is co-directing the new musical “Bad World” with Crave. He is part of two cross-cultural theatre collaborations with companies in Egypt and France. His art was recently selected as part of RACC’s new public art collection: Capturing the Moment. Michael is one of five Oregon performing artists to receive the 2021 Oregon Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship for artists of outstanding talent, demonstrated ability and commitment to the creation of new work.




LanDforms (Seattle, WA): The Garden of Expectations

LanDforms is making their Risk/Reward debut at this year’s festival. Recently finding themselves in Seattle after a stint at Martha’s Vineyard, where they made their hilarious and tragic Barbie-themed work, The Life in Plastic, Risk/Reward welcomes them to our Portland stage.


The Garden of Expectations is a movement piece that presents the audience with a surreal and abstract glimpse into another world, presenting a wealth of symbolic and metaphorical readings, including but not limited to life, death, decay, vulnerability, the consumption of living things for human pleasure, and the never ending search for approval. The Garden of  Expectations turns reality TV on its head, forming its own thoughts about what it means to get the Rose. In this version of dating game show absurdity, challenges include basking in radiant sunshine, drinking water, and putting down strong roots.


Under the moniker LanDforms, Leah Crosby and Danielle Doell’s productions span dance, theater, music, sculpture, and horticulture. LanDforms’ often funny, sometimes tragic, always unusual performances explore the absurdities of human relationships, nostalgia, and the intersections of power, control, and love. Crosby was born in upstate New York to artist parents; Doell went to 13 years of Catholic school in the Midwest. Their early socialization around what is “normal” regarding gender, power, sex, and identity was, to put it simply, different. As LanDforms, they examine how their disparate histories build their present and future expressive bodies. LanDforms began on Martha’s Vineyard, where Crosby and Doell lived for two years. Danielle joined the Seattle dance scene in 2017, knowing Leah would soon follow. They collaborated long-distance and during several developmental residencies while separated. Now, LanDforms is excited to be a Seattle-based company, making work within the PNW’s thriving performance communities. The Garden of Expectations was created in close creative collaboration with the dancers.




Risk and You Shall Receive 

Response by Beth Thompson (Find more info about her and her work at

The truth of the matter is I feel safe walking into Risk/Reward. This is a style of performance I identify with; new work made by the performers and using a variety of traditional and post-modern techniques of idea crafting. In the midst of that sense of belonging, I’m so appreciative that these artists did not shrink from pushing me against that comfort.  At times they told us less than we might want to know, they made us reflect on our most liberal and “educated” assumptions and sometimes pushed against our expectations of what a performance piece should require or restrict.
From my totally biased perspective, the Creation and External Reflection of Identity was a running theme. Several performers gracefully and fully let us experience them intimately, inviting us past/through/beyond the storytelling of histories and into simply being with one another’s bodies. From that intimacy, creators crafted reflections of the way they have been formed and boxed by external creations of gender and race.
Crafted by Producing Artistic Director Jerry Tischleder and the Festival Director, Spicy With Katie Watkins, this year’s Risk/Reward is a full and cohesive night of art and expiration. I’m grateful to them for organizing this weekend and for inviting me to respond with these short thoughts. And, I’m grateful to the artists for continuing to push themselves and the audience against the boundaries of The Known, even in a venue where we might be comfortable.
Wonder Full by Britt Karhoff 
A powerful performer with a clown’s instincts and a dancer’s gravity, clinging to a heavy table, trying to keep everything together. I was struck by the intimacy of simple acts; building a table, arranging her space. I felt invited into her work (which is to say, her being). And, as she stopped, breathing hard, dropping her head on the table….I was struck by how hard, how athletic it is to set up a life people want to see. A comedic chorus of “Yes. Yep. Uh-huh.” reflecting the language that women are set up to perform. The struggle to stay sane when the echo chamber of external expectations and stories ensues advancing into hysterical and exhausting. Invited back into the intimacy of this performer’s being as she lies on the floor, breathing hard, when the lights eventually come down.
Planet Pink by Bouton Volonté
I had been looking forward to Volonté’s work and they did not disappoint. A mesmerizing mover. A brilliant eye for beauty. A confident and compassionate Leader of Audience. A lover of Maria from The Sound of Music. Volonté kept their majority white audience on the hook for their privilege while also compassionately and generously inviting us to appreciate their experience of exclusion and then the embodiment of magnificent femme.  A stage littered with luggage and a mirror center stage which, from my seat, had a reflection of the exit sign. All of which felt like an invitation to exit our assumptions about how gender might play as we let the binary slip away.
In The White Frame by Angel “Moonyeka” Alviar-Langley
Early movement drawing with Boxes/Bodies. The impossibility of Balance and hard edges of Identity reflected as bodies move in and out of shadow, balancing themselves on the lines of the box of who they are/would be/can be seen as. The power of the very young bodies on stage; confident, communicative, naturally carrying the ability to impress and discomfort the audience. And, finally, the pain of an Alphabet Book describing limitation, judgement and racism being read aloud…the building blocks through which the world is understood are the accompaniment to which our young, confident dancer moves forward.
War by Eli Steffan
A Dress, A Tarp, A box of Glue and a Deck of Toxic Masculinity. A sense of tension between the desire to play and a reality that no one wants to be seen winning. A ritual act that is never explained, a gross mystery. An act of submission by the performer to the audience. The holders of the keys of masculinity never knowing what the rules are.
Bayanihan: A Collection of Physical Tales Created by the Captivating Cheryl Delostrinos

Simplicity, Something Known and Exquisitely Personal. The Vulnerability and Intimacy of Cheryl’s body as it bounces between something akin to violence and expanse. Too much to recognize in the dance between two lovers as they direct their bodies through their need for and dependency on the other. Foot dances. Seeing a group of woman dancing simply; a quieter, more reserved “party style” movement that allowed each dancer to both self express and to stay singular. I loved seeing these female identifying bodies on stage claiming space in an act that embodied both joy and simple independence; they dance for themselves.



Voicebox Karaoke NW
2112 NW Hoyt St
10pm – 1am

See the art, then BE the art – Join us for opening night celebration KARAOKE in a private lounge room at Portland’s premiere karaoke destination. We will be departing Artists Rep at 9:45pm, following the artist toast, and getting our sing on all night long.



Coley Mixan (Seattle)
Music/Visual Art
9:45pm – 11:30pm 

Stick around after Saturday’s festival performances to experience Seattle performance artist and musician Coley Mixan as they bring live visual and sonic experience that juxtapose queries into food justice, sound ecology & identity in the Artists Rep lobby following the show. Seeing the show another night? Come out just for this! You don’t want to miss this musician, visual artist, librarian, astronomical sleuth and vegan baker in action!


Coley Mixan’s work percolates love songs to the multiverse through the artists’s body and voice, embodying the making of space-as-time through an intra-exploration of queer agency.  As an agent fascinated by the intricate forms of cultural/caloric/mythological consumption, Mixan is often performed as a switchboard of athletics, (g)astronomic pursuance, and the tortuous discoveries of intra-connected holes, cavities, and channels between gluten chains & sound waves.

Check out Coley’s Soundcloud

Marcus Youssef and James Long – Winners and Losers

Marcus and Jamie are two of Vancouver’s most prominent theatre makers. We are incredibly excited to help bring them to Portland!

It seems like I’ve known these two forever as they are some of the most welcoming hosts for my annual pilgrimage to the PuSh Festival in Vancouver, BC.

My first encounter with either of these artists was in 2010, seeing Clark and I Somewhere in Connecticut by Theatre Replacement featuring James Long in a full body bunny suit. It was a fascinating piece about creating art with found objects (in this case a discarded photo album) and the way we project stories onto images. Since then we’ve shared many conversations and cocktails leading to this current moment. There are so many collaborators in this piece, it’s a veritable “who’s who” of Canadian theatre!


Winners and Losers is a staged conversation that embraces the ruthless logic of capitalism, and tests its impact on our closest personal relationships as well as our most intimate experiences of self.

Theatre artists and long-time friends Marcus Youssef and James Long sit at a table and play a game they made up, called winners and losers. In it, they name people, places or things — Tom Cruise, microwave ovens, their fathers, rainforests, druids, etc. — and debate whether these things are winners or losers. As each seeks to defeat the other, the debate becomes highly personal, as they dissect each other’s individual, familial and class histories. And because one of these men is the product of economic privilege, and the other not, the competition very quickly begins to cost.

READ: “Virtuoso wordplay gives way to nasty verbal sparring in this tour de force” Paula Citron, Globe and Mail. May 23, 2013.

READ: “Winners and Losers Hits the Bullseye”Village Voice

READ: “Now Playing: Winners and Losers”. The New Yorker.

READ/VIEW: “Friendship Frays, a Topic at a Time” Charles Isherswood, The New York Times. February 1, 2015.

READ: “Winners and Losers is one of the best shows of the season” Colin Thomas, The Georgia Straight. November 26, 2012.






Theatre Replacement is an ongoing collaboration between James Long and Maiko Bae Yamamoto. Whether working together or apart, we use extended processes to create performances from intentionally simple beginnings. Our work is about a genuine attempt to coexist. Conversations, interviews and arguments collide with Yamamoto and Long’s aesthetics resulting in theatrical experiences that are authentic, immediate and hopeful.


Neworld Theatre creates, produces, and tours new plays and performance events. We tell stories that are as complicated and contradictory as the enormously small country we live in. Historically, our work is rooted in an experience of ethnic and cultural diversity. While diversity remains a core value, our programming now asks a broader range of questions about political responsibility, identity, and difference. We ask artists and audiences to embrace work which challenges assumptions about the nature of theatre and its function in the world

MARCUS YOUSSEF (writer/performer)

Marcus’ plays include Winners and Losers, Leftovers, Jabber, How Has My Love Affected You?, Ali & Ali and the aXes of Evil, Everyone, Adrift, Peter Panties, Chloe’s
Choice and A Line in the Sand. They have been performed dozens of times at theaters and festivals across North America, Australia and Europe, including: the Dublin Theatre Festival, Soho Rep, Festival Trans Ameriques, PuSh Festival (four times), Noorderzon (Netherlands), Ca Foscari (Venice), Brno Festival (Czech), Aarhus Festival (Denmark), On the Boards (Seattle) the Magnetic North Festival (five times), and many others. Marcus’ essays, journalism and fiction have appeared in Vancouver Magazine, the Vancouver Sun, Grain, This Magazine, the Georgia Straight, The Tyee, and many programs on CBC Radio and TV.

Awards and nominations include: Governor General’s, Rio-Tinto Alcan Performing Arts, Chalmer’s Canadian Play, Seattle Times Footlight, Arts Club Silver Commission, and Vancouver Critics’ Choice (three times). Marcus is Artistic Director of Vancouver’s Neworld Theatre, sits on the city’s Arts and Culture Policy Council, and co-founded the East Vancouver production hub, PL1422. He has served on the faculties of Concordia and Capilano Universities, teaches widely, and is currently a Canadian Fellow to the International Society of Performing Arts., @marcusyoussef,

JAMES LONG (writer/performer)

James Long has been making theatre since 1995 and currently artistic directs Theatre Replacement with Maiko Bae Yamamoto. The company’s work has been presented in 40 cities and venues across North America and Europe and includes Clark and I Somewhere in Connecticut, Sexual Practices of the Japanese, BIOBOXES: Artifacting Human Experience, WeeTube, Dress me up in your love, The Greatest Cities in the World, Winners and Losers and Kate Bowie among others. Upcoming works with TR include Town Criers and Three Lectures on the North. As a freelance artist he has worked as a director, writer and actor with Rumble Productions, Neworld, urban ink, Leaky Heaven Circus (now Fight with a Stick), The Only Animal, The Chop Theatre, CBC radio and The Electric Company, among others. Recent favorite freelance work includes: Morko and its upcoming partner piece Loch – both site oriented performances created with visual artist and animator Cindy Mochizuki; How To Disappear Completely created for the Chop Theatre with lighting designer Itai Erdal: and, with Neworld, a new incarnation of the King Arthur story as told by Niall McNeil and Marcus Youssef. In addition to creating new work, James has taught performance and methods of creation to established artists across Canada and to students at The University of British Columbia, The University of Regina, Simon Fraser University, Studio 58 and Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts. He is a graduate of SFU’s School of Contemporary Arts.


Chris Abraham has been the Artistic Director of Crow’s Theatre since 2007. At Crow’s, he has directed numerous productions including Eternal Hydra, I,Claudia, Boxhead, The Country, and Instructions to any future socialist government wishing to abolish christmas. Chris is a multi-award winning theatre and film director, dramaturg and teacher who has worked with Canada’s foremost artists and theatres, including the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Canadian Stage Company, Tarragon Theatre, Segal Centre, Centaur Theatre, Globe Theatre, Theatre Junction, among many others. In 2000, he co-founded and was the Co-Artistic Director of Bill Glassco’s Montreal Young Company. In 2003, Chris directed the film adaptation of Kristen Thomson’s award winning hit I,Claudia for which he won a Gemini award. The film was also named one of 2004′s top ten Canadian films by the Toronto International Film Festival.

A graduate of the National Theatre School’s directing program, Chris later served as Co-Director of the school’s renowned directing program (2006-2010). Chris was the recipient of the John Hirsch and Ken MacDougall awards and the Siminovitch award for Directing in 2013, as well as the Siminovitch protege award in the award’s inaugural year. Chris has directed the highly lauded Stratford Shakespeare Festival productions of For The Pleasure of Seeing Her Again, The Little Years, The Matchmaker, Othello in 2013 and returns in 2014 to direct A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Chris lives in Toronto with his wife, actor Liisa Repo-Martell, their daughter Hazel and son Leo.







From the dancing brain blog by Beth Thompson:

Beth in Orlando at Profile Theater (photo by David Kinder)

Beth in Orlando at Profile Theater (photo by David Kinder)


A wonderland of sun and clouds intermittently warmed my face on the way to the theatre today. A fresh breeze to compliment the click of my boots – a literal breath of fresh air – and with the freedom of the breeze I became aware that I was free from any expectations as to what I would see at the opening night of Risk/Reward 2016. I had no expectations of the subject matter or mediums I would see. And, I had no expectation that I needed to like what I saw. I was free of any need to ‘get’ something out of these creations.

From my humble perspective, the work created by this year’s Risk/Reward artists is intelligently structured, clearly delivered, and rooted in an appreciation for that special gift of live performance; the simple fact that 100+ human beings are in a room together, each having an individual experience of a shared moment in close quarters surrounded by strangers. Ahhh, the audience, my favorite thing about live performance, and it’s delightful to watch several very different styles of performance rooted in that interest.
Milton Lim’s work okay.odd., demands the most from this special relationship. His work opens with a quietly intimate and professional ritual acknowledging his ancestors and ours. He exits and a video/sound installation guides the audience into a meditative awareness of their breath. From this intimate place of meditative awareness, Lim throws us into a visual onslaught of seemingly random words which command the entire space while the beat drives and shakes the theatre. Observing my breath through the brutality of light and language, I could feel the subtle tightening of my shoulders and ass. I was present with the tension that sneaks it’s way into the never-ending stream of stimulus that greets me daily. At the end of this exhausting immersion (Lim’s description notes that we are experiencing a short length session), Lim comes back on stage to connect and invite the audience to end the experience by sharing a ‘tender touch’ with the artist. The work is passionately ritualistic. Lim believes he can truly connect with his audience and isn’t afraid of pissing them off with a form that is, frankly, uncomfortable. After Lim’s piece I realized my heart was racing and I was out of breath, his strobe affect had sent me into a kind of adrenaline state. Lim’s relationship to the audience is certainly the most demanding on the audience, though other works acknowledge this special gift of audience in their own ways.
Anthony Hudson (Carla Rossi) is using some of theatre oldest forms remade through his dance-drag-song-comedy-multimedia extravaganza. He speaks directly with the audience, sharing and responding.  He reveals himself to us as he strips away his wig and white face, he leaves his ‘mask’ behind and his identity becomes more complex. Revelation, comedy and culture are his tools. As he makes us laugh, we want him to be our friend so he can call us out in the midst of this mess of a racist culture we were both raised in.
Comparatively to Hudson’s ease of style, Vanessa Goodman’s solo dance work is marked by a trapped and tortured movement quality, the few moments of release are flung out through barrels of explosion. At the top of the piece her gaze is fixed and searching towards the sky. It is only as she slowly (oh, so slowly) becomes willing and able to hide her torture under a mask of socially appropriate gesture, that her gaze lowers towards the audience. She smiles. She is more accessible to the world and yet further from her self. This simple, slow change in her gaze took my attention away from my empathy for this character putting on socially acceptable mask and toward the question, “Am I complicit in the self-injuring performances given by others around me simply by agreeing to be their audience?”
Aside from my own fascination with how different artists are driven to engage with their audience, it was also simply wonderful to see five deeply disparate forms on the same stage. Goodman’s dance and Hudson’s drag narrative are followed by Lim’s violent ritual of meditation and connection. And, after a brief respite, we sink into Portland’s SNKR and their visual sonic landscape. I was immersed in the color, rhythm and vibrancy of their video creation and struck by the artistry of how they were able to co-mingle the architecture they created on stage with the architecture of the video media. I had no sense of “This piece is about…” and I didn’t need it. I was simply drenched in the moment at hand. Their work gave me new hope for how video and live performance can work together. Finally, Ilvs Strauss’ Doin’ It Right dived into my home vocabulary. Weaving subtle gesture, dance and relationship through a score of music and pre-recorded text, Strauss narrative simply and honestly invites the audience to peer into her personal exploration of that never simple question, “Is there such a thing as right and wrong?”
Thematically, this year’s Risk/Reward line up is all wound up in the experience of where we come from, how we’re negotiating that history, and the immediacy of sharing these questions with the people in the room today.
I walked into the theatre calm, free of expectation. I walked out riled up. Riled up with questions about and appreciation for these artists, the structures and media they created to share with this unsuspecting audience. An audience who didn’t know what they came for. Who didn’t have to enjoy every moment of it. An audience just has to show up and be willing to offer their presence as generously as the performers do each night.

ON DEMAND: Frédérick Gravel – Usually Beauty Fails

Deux couples 300CR

Portland, get ready for Frédérick Gravel!

I was lucky to catch Usually Beauty Fails at the PuSh Festival in Vancouver, B.C. in late January. I had heard rave reviews and some skepticism when the piece toured to Seattle at On the Boards the week prior (where the film we are screening was captured). I was in awe of many parts of this piece – the raw energy of the performers, the incredible live music, the casual humor in Gravel’s addresses to the crowd, and the incredible intimacy that traveled back 30 rows to where I was sitting. Hopefully we will see Gravel’s work live on our stages soon, but until then I’m excited to be able to bring this film version of Usually Beauty Fails to Portland!


Frédérick Gravel is a dancer, choreographer, guitarist, singer, and lighting designer whose work is presented not only in underground performance spaces in Montreal and New York, but at scholarly symposia as well. Gravel cultivates artistic ambiguity, cultural meeting points, the mixing of disciplines, and post-modern irony. He plays with the contemporary zeitgeist; flippant and skeptical. He is complicit with the audience, thumbing his nose at the avant-garde; at the exclusive preserves of the elite. In lucid, offhand fashion, he takes popular culture and establishment culture out of their assigned roles and brings them together.


Socio animalus. Three musicians plugged into the power grid, six dancers ready to explode, the energy of Pop to intensify the beat, the energy of desire to set things ablaze. Quebec’s Frédérick Gravel ignites bodies and blows up the stage in Usually Beauty Fails, a surrealist and unbridled metaphor about our relation to beauty, the shock of love and the challenges of relationships. The performers’ combination of physical restraint and furious involvement produces a nervous dialog made of projected bodies, ruptures, false starts, repetitions and aborted gestures. No more gender-related clichés, all individualities are asserted: desiring and desired beings make use of symbols and their own bodies to better arouse the audience. The choreographer-dancer-musician grabs the microphone to distil with humor and impertinence a speech about dance and humans as social animals. An audacious integration of popular culture and choreographic art; an invigorating and carnal work that posits conflict as art and elevates reality’s imperfections to the rank of most efficient aesthetic.

Once more bringing together dancers and musicians in a space where choreographic show and concert are interwoven, Quebec’s Frédérick Gravel plays with the codes of contemporary dance and pop culture to question their respective canons. Built upon a series of short scenes in the manner of Gravel Works (which itself preceded Tout se pète la gueule, chérie), the work goes by like the songs of a sweet and savoury album about the fury of life, our unease at experiencing beauty and the difficulty in finding harmonious contact points in relationships.

Inspired by the aesthetic of videos where the desire to please is so strong that they become quasi-pornographic, the choreographer exacerbates frontality and tackles the game of seduction in group movements where dancers are as vulnerable as provocative. It is difficult for the public to remain indifferent to this silent appeal. But from one sequence to the next, the atmosphere transforms itself, we are plunged into another universe : guitarist, dancer and sometimes also singer, Gravel grabs the microphone in between two songs, like an irreverent M.C., and takes a few jabs at contemporary dance clichés as he breaks the fourth wall.

In the sections where the duo embodies the paradox of relationships that the body calls for but that the mind refuses, he refines his aesthetic of the accident, using physical constraints to generate conflicts that in turn produce movement. Combining choreographed and reflex gestures, the dancing results from a succession of frictions, accidents and failures that reveal the nature of beings endowed with wild vitality and unstoppable perseverance despite their repeated setbacks. No exuberance, no lyricism, no crisis nor any other theatrical construction. The movements are raw. The hips and the eyes carry the strong emotional and sexual charge. Dancing bodies in the instant of instinct. Animality and candor of the human beings stripped of his or her masks and judgment filters.

As a choreographic entity integral to the show, the live music sets the tone and gives a color and a direction, or on the contrary, appears to break an image, sweeps through a scene like a tidal wave. Perfectly integrated to the mise-en-scene, the bodies of the musicians bring us back to the reality of the show’s space-time, offering the spectator a perspective on the fiction created through the abstraction of the dance.

Like all previous works by Frédérick Gravel, Usually Beauty Fails was created in close collaboration with all members, dancers and musicians of GAG : the Grouped’ArtGravelArtGroup. (Text: Fabienne Cabado / Translation : Michel Moussette)