Andrew Dickson wants to help. In his piece Life Coach, the performance artist and Wieden Kennedy 12 teacher—he's one of the people behind those crazy-ass Old Spice ads—will be exactly that onstage: a life coach to a local stranger. He's invited Portlanders to apply to be coached about their problems, by him, in front of an arts audience in the Mark Spencer Hotel ballroom. It won't be at all like the coordinated bitchy spectacle of your average Dr. Phil, he says, because it's not necessarily meant as entertainment. "There is no agenda, no show," he says. While he allows that someone might be funny or even come in character, "it could just be really sad. You could have someone boring, or really grating." He wants instead to bring the audience into the interaction between coach and coachee, while still trying genuinely to help the person onstage. To that end, he's even taken brief life-coaching workshops with expert million-watt smiler Carl Casanova. What the eight performances will turn out to be, Dickson doesn't really know himself. "It depends on what happens in the moment," he says, "and what that person brings to it." The first person he accepted for coaching is an activist who worries he's concerning himself too much with his work and not enough about himself—an uncommon problem, perhaps, in beautifully self-indulgent Portland, but Dickson is convinced that Portland's three overachievers will be able to relate.
If Dickson is concerned with the frustrations of the Portland individual, Big Art Group's The People—Portland will concern itself with the noisy political ejections of the Portland masses. The New York-based group will film topical interviews with locals and use the projected footage—in combination with live theater—to loosely restage an ancient Greek tale of tabloid-style murder, murderous revenge and merciful justice: namely the Oresteia trilogy, which tells the story of the murders of Agamemnon and his wife, Clytemnestra. Through the magic of editing (and woozy-dreamy atmospherics, and some outright interviewer hostility), the Portland crowd becomes the Greek chorus. Expect a constant questioning and re-arrangement of form, po-mo thematics and more than a little disorientation, as what's outside and what's inside become constantly confused.
SEE IT: Life Coach is at the Mark Spencer Hotel ballroom, 409 SW 11th Ave. 1:30-2:30 pm and 3:30-4:30 pm Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 8-9 and 15-16. Free. The People-—Portland is at Washington High School, Southeast Stark Street between 12th and 14th avenues. 8:30 pm Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 6-8. $15-$20. All ages. See pica.org/TBA.