Murder, conspiracy and apocalypse! No, it's not the latest Ron Paul slogan. As grim as the farcical presidential race has become, it has nothing on some of the bloody, unsettling and bizarre plays premiering at this year's Fertile Ground Festival. The city-wide, uncurated celebration of new work by local artists, now in its fourth year, will bring more than 100 performances and readings to very nearly every theater in town over 10 days, and the mood is dark. There's political intrigue (The North Plan, They), supernatural terror (Ablaze, Bite Me a Little), gore ([I Am Still] the Duchess of Malfi, Grand Guignol 4) and rumblings of doomsday (Waxwing, B'aktun 13). So get out there and take in a little light entertainment—that is, if you've got the guts.


GO: Fertile Ground events at various venues Jan. 19-29. See Theater Events for full listings and reviews. Individual admissions vary, all-festival passes $50 at fertilegroundpdx.org.

Headout Picks

THURSDAY JAN. 19

DR. DEMENTO
Vollum Lecture Hall, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd., 771-1112, reed.edu. 8 pm each day. $5.

FRIDAY JAN. 20

BLACK ELK
Branx, 320 SE 2nd Ave., 234-5683, 9:30 pm. Free. All ages.
SHACKLETON’S ANTARCTIC NIGHTMARE 
Lawrence Howard revives his solo performance about Ernest Shackleton’s doomed expedition to the southern extremes. Hipbone Studio, 1847 E Burnside St., portlandstorytheater.com. 8 pm Fridays-Saturdays through Jan. 28. $15-$20.

SATURDAY JAN. 21

AN EVENING WITH JOANNA PRIESTLEY
[MOVIES] She ranks among Portland’s best animators. She has new movies. At least one is about the (former) planet Pluto. She’ll be there. It’s winter. What else are you doing? Watch the stars! Maybe they’re not stars. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium, 1219 SW Park Ave., 221-1156. 7 pm. $6-$9.

MONDAY JAN. 23

SATURDAY MORNING CARTOONS AT NIGHT
[MOVIES] It hardly seems possible this has not happened in Portland previously, but it hasn’t. Here are Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, Thundarr the Barbarian and Schoolhouse Rock, all together on a big screen with beer. Hey, hey, hey. Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy Blvd., 281-4215. 7:30 pm. $5. Free cereal for early arrivals. 

TUESDAY JAN. 24

CONCRETE BLONDE
[MUSIC] If the recent release of the 2012 Coachella lineup weren’t indication enough that the ’90s are back in full force, how about the resurrection of Concrete Blonde? A new self-released, two-song 7-inch finds the group brandishing its same old desert-baked and punk spirit. Star Theater, 13 NW 6th Ave., 248-4700. 9 pm. $25 advance, $30 day of show. 21+.