Two years ago the members of Hand2Mouth Theatre, tired of just telling Portlanders about the interesting new performances they'd seen at Seattle's On the Boards festival, decided to bring a sampling to town. Now in its third year, the company's Risk/Reward Festival brings eight artists from Portland and Seattle to a single stage to perform 20-minute excerpts of new works in two shows. Many of the artists were featured in On the Boards' Northwest New Works Festival at the beginning of June.
The first half of the split showcase includes excerpts from My Mind Is Like an Open Meadow, Hand2Mouth member Erin Leddy's solo show about her grandmother, derived from 20 hours of oral history she recorded in 2001, which Leddy delivers in a characteristically broad variety of styles; a wide-ranging monologue by Seattle actor and director Paul Budraitis (who just returned from seven years in Lithuania) about trust and fear; a new dance collaboration by Oslund+Co and Imago Theatre director Jerry Mouawad; and House of Cunt veteran Angela Fair doing her creepy satire thing.
The second show includes the whole Hand2Mouth company performing a portion of Uncanny Valley, a sci-fi-inspired work they workshopped in May; dancer-choreographer Katherine Longstreth, who moved to Portland from New York last year and who received a positive review from WW dance critic Heather Wisner for her local debut at Conduit in March; a "conceptual look at death, duality and dissociative disorders" by Seattle performer Mike Pham that promises wild costumes, ice skating and Japanese commercials; and the Cherdonna and Lou Show, a drag/dance theater/comedy duo that sounds like a hoot.
Part of the challenge of presenting new performance art is convincing a gun-shy audience it won't wind up trapped for hours in folding chairs while dancers scrunch rubber bands and stomp on bubble wrap. It's a reasonable fear—we've been burned before—but there's no need to fear Risk/Reward. If you don't like what you see, you know it won't last long, and it'll only cost you $10.
BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 NW 17th Ave., hand2mouththeatre.org. 5 and 8 pm Saturday, June 19. $8 for one show, $15 for both in advance; $10 each day of show. Tickets at brownpapertickets.com.