Portland's first weed-and-theater pairing comes unexpectedly this summer from Northwest's demure CoHo Theater.
The theater, located off Trendy-Third behind St. Jack, stoked controversy when it opened in 1995 in the basement of the Benson Hotel with a violent show that caused one patron to call the police. This season, itsannual Summerfest harks back to those edgier roots.
CoHo is offering audiences a discount on 1-gram pre-rolls at nearby Thurman Street Collective (2384 NW Thurman St.) to pair with each performance. Patrons who show their theater program at the collective can buy any pre-roll for $5, before or after shows, which change every week and run through July 17.
"They are full of laughter, usually a little bit rude, sometimes sexy," says Jess Drake, CoHo's marketing director, about the summer shows, which veer from the theater's monthlong productions during the regular season.
In Drake's personal experience, theater has always paired nicely with marijuana, and Summerfest usually partners with a neighborhood bar or restaurant. Drake was looking for a nice fit for the short, lighthearted spirit of Summerfest.
The performance that lit the fuse last weekend was Frank, a one-woman play with cross-dressing and cabaret from Australian comedian Emily June Newton. That set the tone for the next month of clowns, weed, drag and comedy. "With Newton, the funniest thing is seeing the transformation—because she's this really striking, beautiful Australian woman—into this raunchy, cigar-smoking man," Drake says.
Next up is Shaking the Tree's twist on an erotic Shakespearean poem, Venus and Adonis, performed by familiar faces to Portland stages, Rebecca Ridenour and Matthew Kerrigan (June 30-July 3). Following that, the clown-inspired company A Little Bit Off will perform its silent play, Bella Culpa (July 6-9), and New Yorker Kelly Kinsella's re-creation of a woman having a meltdown while ordering food in When Thoughts Attack (July 14-17).
The one-hour run times mean that audiences will leave the theater around 8:30 pm, with time left to capitalize on the partnership deal at Thurman Street Collective, which stays open until 10.
"Recreational cannabis has changed the way people are recreating in their summers," Drake says. "But it can also feel limiting with, like, what to do with that?" From a marketing standpoint, recreational marijuana is an ideal partnership for the arts. It is an industry currently with a lot of disposable income. Thurman Street Collective, in particular, is already a supporter of local arts, featuring a gallery inside the dispensary.
As Newton told me after her opening performance of Frank, "Willamette Week is just lies. All lies." So don't take my word—experience Summerfest yourself.
see it: The Summerfest show Venus and Adonis is at CoHo Theater, 2257 NW Raleigh St., 503-220-2646. 7:30 pm Thursday-Sunday, June 30-July 3. $20. Full schedule at cohoproductions.org.