8 Days: Hellish Concerts, Strange Dates, and a World-Building Workshop

THURSDAY, 16   SPICE OF LIFE | Take my advice and unplug from current events. Turn your phone off (heck, why not leave it at home for once?). Link up with your favorite human, and attend this variety show brought on by the Art Department and Bomb Diggity Arts. Hilarity will likely ensue, and you could use a dose of that. If you’re craving something a little out of this world, stick around for Tim…

Gilbert Gottfried talks Trump, Classic Hollywood, and the Amazing Afterlife of Disney's Aladdin

Comedian Gilbert Gottfried is famous for his screechy, loud voice and abrasive comedy style. But here’s the thing, the squinty man with the grating voice is just an act.   When he uses his regular speaking voice, Gottfried is nearly unrecognizable. He’s mild-mannered, self-deprecating and quick to laugh, often in response to his own wry jokes and observations.   Gottfried’s first big break was on Saturday Night Live, but he had the misfortune of being…

8 Days a Week: LSD Lessons, Ladies' Health Rallies, and Letter-Writing Parties

THURSDAY 9 MADCAP THEATER | The actor and writer Brent Askari has spent the last several years carving out a status as one of the best character actors in Portland — truly, if only there were awards for such a thing. One wonders, however, that the distinction might overshadow his considerable talents as a playwright. His original comedy Digby’s Home drew strong praise in its production last year, and his award-winning madcap play Cocktails and…

Crass gags and a smart cast in Cocktails and Travails

Are the nonstop national news alerts making you anxious, desperate, and easily triggered into dread and nausea? Well, you’ve got nothing on Greg (Mark Rubin) – he’s up for tenure. He and his wife Emily (Heather Perry Weafer) are about to host tenure committee heavy-hitter Professor Stilton (Lisa Muller-Jones) for cocktails, and his career depends on absolutely nothing going wrong. What could possibly go wrong? Ever so much, in Portland writer and actor Brent Askari’s…

Good Theater's "The May Queen" delivers colorful, contentious comedy

There are four desks in the office world of The May Queen, a “pod” in Kingston, New York’s Vallor Group Insurance Agency, and the first one you’ll notice belongs to middle-aged Zumba enthusiast Gail (Laura Houck) – a Hawaiian heaven of grass skirt and hula dolls. The desk where Mike (Rob Cameron) works, when he’s not suspended, is a minor mess of homage to New York sports teams and fast food trash. Of the other…

Old world elegance, sadomasochistic rituals, and murder fantasies on display in The Maids

The powerless have a complicated relationship with power in Jean Genet’s 1947 Absurdist drama The Maids: Claire and Solange both hate Madame and love her, aspire to both kill and be her. Genet’s unnerving look at class, power, and Otherness never really gets old, and Gary Locke directs an exquisitely acted production at The Players’ Ring, starring the exceptional Seacoast-area actors Whitney Smith and Constance Witman.   Genet, the orphaned homosexual son of a prostitute…

8 Days a Week: Playing Rough, Standing Up, and Fighting the Fight

THURSDAY 2 BITTER SILVER | There's a silver lining to this moment in history, albeit thin, and it's this. If you're a person who's feeling stressed, unsafe, or in despair, conditions are actually better than ever that you could talk to someone about it. A friend, acquaintance, bartender, stranger — whoever — they're probably feeling similarly. (I wouldn't bother the bartender too much if they're working. On the other hand, what is work, really?) Not all people find comfort…

A dark battle between technology and human desire rages in The Nether

The line between the real and the virtual is blurring, and Jennifer Haley takes it a leap further in The Nether: she imagines a future in which customers act out, through virtual avatars, urges that are socially taboo in the “real” world. But is one world really more “real” than the other? Are ugly virtual acts morally defensible? Under the finely tuned direction of Christine Louise Marshall, Mad Horse stages a strikingly designed, hauntingly performed…

8 Days: History Lessons, Musical Mayhem, Shaman Journeys and Straight Up Witchcraft

THURSDAY 26   HISTORY LESSON | The Portland Public Library doesn’t want you to forget history. Like other educational organizations in the city, the folks there have been hosting some important discussions and events around racial justice through a historical lens. Tonight, as part of their Civil Rights Film Series, they’re screening the 1994 Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary, Freedom On My Mind. It follows a group of young activists in Mississippi as they…

Scott Cairns on poetry, politics, and the possibility of peace

Scott Cairns was born in Tacoma, Washington. He earned a BA from Western Washington University, an MA from Hollins College, an MFA from Bowling Green State University, and a PhD from the University of Utah. This interview was conducted by Tim Gillis ahead of Cairns' reading in South Portland on Jan. 30.   TG: How does geography influence your poetry?   SC: I don’t know that I consciously am aware of how it might. I…
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