This week, on State of Wonder: a multicity birthday party for Oregon’s milestone in silent film history, Buster Keaton’s “The General,” with a brand new live score; moments of reckoning as the Oregon Shakespeare Festival responds to threats against black actors, and opens up about dealing with resistance to its equity work; and Erin McKeown drops in to bend your mind, taking gospel music into the bathroom stall.
Love It Or Loath It - Portland’s Newest High-Rise: The Yard
The new chocolate-brown highrise building at the east end of the Burnside bridge has received a lot of attention from Portlanders, from those who think it’s a daring modern style to those who call it the Death Star and the Borg and think it represents all that’s wrong about Portland growth. Our columnist-in-residence, Randy Gragg, talked with the building’s architect Jeff Kovel of Skylab Architecture about the design of the building, factors that went into why it looks the way it does, and what sets it apart.
Erin McKeown Takes Prayer into the Bathroom with the Queer Gospel - 11:55
Erin McKeown got her start in the New England folk scene, but she’s since grown into a genre dancer of the highest order, gliding from folk to big band to gospel without straining her crystal clear voice. But even for an artist who regularly tackles politics and social justice, something feels particularly urgent about the six songs that make up her first studio album in three years, the EP “According to Us.” She released its first single, “The Queer Gospel,” just days after the Orlando shooting at the Pulse Nightclub. She stops by the studio to play three songs and talk about the EP and touring with the hit podcast “Welcome to Nightvale.”
The Hollywood Theatre Gives Buster Keaton’s Silent Film “The General” a New Score for its 90th Birthday - 19:28
Filmed in Cottage Grove, Oregon, Buster Keaton’s 1926 silent film “The General” is considered one of the greatest movies of all time. The Hollywood Theatre, which is also celebrating its 90th anniversary, decided to throw a co-birthday party by commissioning an original score from the well-known Oregon composer Mark Orton, who has scored everything from “Nebraska” to Ken Burns’ “The Roosevelts” and episodes of “This American Life.”
Orton and a group of talented musicians will take the film and live score on a week tour, starting at the Hollywood Theatre on Aug. 12 and hitting Cottage Grove (Aug. 13), Coos Bay (Aug. 14), Bend (Aug. 16) and Klamath Falls (Aug. 17), before returning to the Hollywood on Aug. 19. The Hollywood and Oregon Film are also going to release a DVD of the film with the new score, and Cottage Grove’s Historical Society has a number of local celebrations.
Converge 45 Brings The Art Crowd To Portland - 29:46
Last weekend, collectors en route to the Seattle art fair were invited to come south to Oregon for a few days of art, sun and socializing by a new event called Converge 45. We talked with the organizer and gallerist Elizabeth Leach about the event that steered collectors and art connoisseurs toward exhibitions and artist talks by local and international artists. Leach says getting Portland to be a part of the international conversation is crucial for the future of art in Portland and across the state.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival And Ashland Community Unite After Racist Threats - 36:07
The community of Ashland and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival are coming together after two African-American actors became the recent targets of racist comments and death threats. OPB’s Dave Blanchard talked on Think Out Loud with the festival’s executive director Cynthia Rider about what happened, the open letter to the Ashland community that she co-wrote and how the festival is working with the community to prevent this from happening again. You can hear their full conversation on Think Out Loud.
Nothing to Laugh About: Curious Comedy Theater Teams Up with the Hillsboro Police - 42:48
After Hillsboro’s police department decided to try something new earlier this year by working with improv performers from Portland’s Curious Comedy Theater to improve the quality of its training, tensions between police and the community have only continued to escalate around the country. But it’s challenging to get funding for such intensive scenario-based training. After stopping in on an improv-fueled training session, we check in with Curious Comedy artistic director Stacey Hallal again to see where Hillsboro’s training program stands and why she thinks this kind of training is effective for local law enforcement.