Memorial gatherings are coming for two important and much-loved figures in Portland theater who passed away this year: Connie Carley, Founder and CEO of PassinArt: A Theater Company; and Stan Foote, longtime director, performer and artistic director of Oregon Children’s Theatre.
Constance G. “Connie” Carley died earlier this summer at age 72 of cancer. She had been with PassinArt since its founding 40 years ago, helping to provide a cohesive home for black stories and black performers performing works by playwrights like August Wilson, Pearl Cleage, John Henry Redwood, Langston Hughes and many more. .
For four decades, she was the behind-the-scenes glue that held things together and a determined force that drove the company forward. “Connie was an activist whose work spoke for her,” PassinArt Artistic Director Jerry Foster says in this story about her life and career. “She was not competitive but always supportive. She worked tirelessly to ensure that every young person had a voice through the arts and that everyone had access to the stage if they so desired.
Carley’s celebration of life will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 20 at Alberta Abbey, 126 NE Alberta Street, Portland. Everyone is welcome. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to the PassinArt: A Theater Company Living Legacy Fund.
Stan Foote, who as a visionary artistic director helped make the Oregon Children’s Theater a nationally significant enterprise, died May 18, also of cancer. He was 69 and had moved to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico after retiring from OCT in 2019. Under his leadership, OCT produced 20 world premieres, including collaborations with novelists Lois Lowry (The donor) and Louis Sachar (Holes) and playwright/adaptor Eric Coble (The donor, The storm in the barn, Sacagawea).
A man of keen theatricality and wry, upbeat humour, Foote was known and revered not only as a brilliant director and leader, but also as a memorable teacher and, to many inside and outside the theater world, a good friend. You can read more about his life and work in this appreciation.
A celebration of life for Foote will be held at 4 p.m. on Monday, August 29 at the Dolores Winningstad Theater at Southwest Broadway and Main Street in downtown Portland. It will be laid back, everyone is welcome and masks are highly recommended.
THE – ISM PROJECT. Art is stories, and stories come from people of all ages and places, with all kinds of backgrounds. Portland’s multicultural production organization, MediaRites, collects and disseminates many of them, including from its – ISM Youth Files, a collection of tales from writers aged 12 to 21 who come from places as far afield as as Connecticut, India, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Indiana, and Oregon.
Their stories focus on responding to the challenges of youth isolation and its effects on mental health and self-care, particularly in BIPOC and disability communities. An ebook of their writings featuring monologues, personal essays, poetry, and short graphic novels will be released this fall, and several short films and podcasts are also in the works.
In the meantime, you can catch a peek at 2 p.m. Saturday, August 27 at Portland’s Curious Comedy Theater, 5525 NE Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., as part of a partnership between MediaRites and Oregon Children’s Theater . This is a mask-requiring event and will include live readings and pre-recorded videos, followed by a BIPOC panel of mental health experts to talk about mental health resources and options for young people.
MediaRites’ executive director is Peabody Award-winning producer Dmae Lo Roberts, whose Stage & Studio podcasts are produced and distributed in conjunction with ArtsWatch.
TBA AT 20 YEARS. Time flies, and the bouncing baby that was TBA, the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art’s time-based art festival, is a 20-year-old. What began in 2002 as a festival highlighted by an extraordinary outdoor performance by Japanese butoh-inspired duo Eiko & Koma has kept the contemporary flag flying every year since, and has just announced its 2022 lineup, which will will take place from September 8 to 18. Los Angeles musician San Cha will headline an opening night of visual and musical performances. You can get the full story and full festival lineup on the PICA website.
REDESIGN YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY. The Multnomah County Library system is a public treasure, but lately it’s been less than an open book. Do that, an open branch. Thanks to a 2020 county voter-approved library building bond, seven secondary libraries are to be renovated or expanded, and East County will get an all-new flagship branch. Among old building necessities such as plumbing upgrades, the library branches will prepare for the future with gigabyte-speed Internet.
Renovation, of course, means disruption, even temporary closure. Portland’s downtown central library closed Aug. 1 to expedite renovations and is expected to remain closed until Nov. 1. Jeans.
Veteran Portland journalist Fred Leeson, who tracks architecture, planning, and historic preservation issues on his Building on History website, reports in some depth on plans to relaunch the Albina branch, 216 NE Knott St. In a column titled Good news to Albinait describes plans to restore the original lines of the 1912 Spanish Renaissance building, one of seven branch libraries in the county funded by Andrew Carnegie, in its original lines and detail.
According to the proposal, it would become the children’s reading room and connect to a new two-storey building behind, which would serve more general purposes and, because the street behind is at a lower level, “would barely be visible behind the historic entrance to Knott. The full project, Leeson reports, is expected to be completed in late 2024.
PROFILE RECOVERY AFTER RUN-IN. The note from Profile Theatre, which has explored the works of modern and contemporary authors for 25 years, was both urgent and determined. “We need your help,” he began. “In the early hours of the morning” on August 1, thieves broke into the company’s Pearl District office and stole all of the theater’s computers. “To make matters worse, after getting their hands on our company’s management computer, they were able to break into our Quickbooks, create dozens of fake employees, and manage tens of thousands of dollars in payroll before the staff arrived the next morning, called the police and froze our accounts.
Profile’s bank canceled the stolen payroll and returned the money to Profile’s account, but “we find ourselves having to buy six new computers in the next three weeks before rehearsals start for the upcoming season” . The missing computers are crucial to the company’s marketing, ticketing, management and production departments — all that offstage stuff that gets things done onstage — and rehearsals start Sept. 7, which doesn’t leave much of the time. Profile is looking for $15,000 in donations by Labor Day and has a “donate” page where you can throw some cash in the hat if you feel like it.
The first appearance of the new season is Kristoffer Diaz’ professional wrestling comedy Chad Deity’s Elaborate Entrancewhich is set to open on October 4.
FREE LAJOS BALOGH CONCERT IN THE PARK. Outdoor concerts come and go, but a few have special staying power. Conductor Lajos Balogh has conducted free concerts in Washington Park nearly every summer for the past four decades, most of those years as conductor of the Portland Festival Symphony, where he became conductor emeritus in 2016, and this month with his own Lajos Balogh Symphony Orchestra. Showtime at 6 p.m. Sunday, August 21 at the Washington Park Amphitheater.
Balogh, who came to the United States from Hungary in 1967, started concerts in the parks in 1981, and it has always been important to him that they be free. “It’s his way of giving back to the great country that adopted him, celebrating the European tradition of bringing open-air symphony concerts to the people,” said his son and fellow musician, Béla R. Balogh of 3 Leg Torso, in a Facebook post.
“It’s especially dear to me because it’s the first time I’ve been fully involved in the production of a concert with my father – everything from working with the city of Portland to acquire permits, overseeing the management of the event insurance, jumping through hoops with noise prescriptions, and even making sure there are portable potties on site. I admit it was a hell of a ride. These gigs are fun, so let’s do it!
Bring your own blanket and chairs, pack a picnic if you wish, and settle in for an evening of music from Beethoven, Sibelius, Dvorák, and Copland. The musicians are good, and the free is a very good price.