This weekend's Risk/Reward Festival is all about the women. Every year since 2008, the micro-fest has presented six 20-minute performances: all new, all devised by West Coast artists and all performed each night, meaning there's none of the picking and choosing that other festivals require. This time around, not only do all the performers hail from either Portland or Seattle, but nearly all are women—and several will interrogate exactly what that means. Seattle's Ilvs Strauss has a solo piece asking what it means to be a woman who doesn't want children. Dressed in slacks and a red tie, she circles her arms and sways like seaweed caught in the waves. And, because she happens to be a marine-life aficionado, it all unfolds with a voice-over track about sea cucumbers, which Strauss describes as "oceanic cleaning tubes." There's also a piece by powerhouse Portland performers Anne Sorce, Grace Carter and Camille Cettina, who call themselves the Neutral Fembot Project. Riffing on the mind-bending work of artist Cindy Sherman—known for photographing herself as a clergyman or film-noir star or cowgirl—the trio will manipulate posture and gaze, all while wearing various dramatic wigs. And then there's That'swhatshesaid from Seattle solo performer Erin Pike, who will work off a script by Courtney Meaker that draws exclusively from female dialogue in America's most produced plays. Because playwrights have always been known for portraying women so accurately, expect hysterical outbursts and a whole lot of crying.
SEE IT: The Risk/Reward Festival is at Artists Repertory Theatre, 1515 SW Morrison St., risk-reward.org. 7 pm Friday-Saturday and 5 pm Sunday, June 20-22. $14-$20.