Many Portland Arts Venues Are Closed, but That Doesn’t Mean That Nothing Is Happening. Here Are the 20 Best Things to Do, Watch and Livestream This Fall.

From experimental plays on Zoom to VR programs from around the world.


Too Reel Outdoor Cinema: Night of the Living Dead

Held in Lakewood Center for the Arts' parking lot, Too Reel's drive-in screening of Night of the Living Dead will include some spooky scenery and real-life jump scares provided by entertainment team Creatures of the Night. Sure, Halloween isn't for another two months, but we could all use a little campy fun and adrenaline-fueled escapism from the hellscape of modern existence right now. Lakewood Center for the Arts, 368 S St., Lake Oswego, 8:45 pm Friday, Sept. 4. $35.

Venice VR  Expanded

While many major local events have been shut down, one of the biggest art events in the world is coming to Portland. The Venice Biennial—arguably the most prestigious every-other-year art survey—is launching its first virtual reality showcase, and its only U.S. outpost will be here in Portland. Hosted by NW Film Center, the 44 different VR programs set up throughout the Portland Art Museum's ornate ballroom will include an abstract void created by a French filmmaker, a Sweedish director's take on Alice in Wonderland, adventures into space, and an animated game by Iron Man director Jon Favreau. Portland Art Museum's Fields Ballroom, 1219 SW Park Ave., Through Sept. 12. $25.

Ungodly: The Spiritual Medium

Disjecta's final exhibit by guest curator Justin Hoover is a small but impactful show that offers a multimedia meditation on spiritualism and mythmaking, including a quilt that reimagines mosques as spaceships, African walking sticks suspended from the ceiling, and an interactive virtual piece inspired by femme trans-futurism. It's available as an online exhibit and for in-person visits. Disjecta, 8371 N Interstate Ave., Through Sept. 20. Free.

Hallowed Ground

Drive-in storytelling and music series Hallowed Ground debuts with an eclectic lineup of local musicians, from jazz pianist Darrell Grant to house music DJ Gila River Monster. The event will be held in an as yet undisclosed location. Tickets will be distributed via lottery to anyone who makes a donation, and all proceeds go to the Black United Fund. If you can't score a spot, the concert also streams online and will be simulcast on Visit for more informaton. Sunday, Sept. 20.

Union PDX

Dancer-run Union PDX held its first festival last year, mounting an ambitious schedule of new contemporary dance works, panels and classes. Organizers committed to holding the festival in November, though they haven't announced a contingency plan if it can't take place at Portland Opera headquarters as planned. Hampton Opera Center, 211 SE Caruthers St., Friday-Sunday, Nov. 13-14.


Chanel Miller in Conversation with T Kira Madden

There is no longer an "Emily Doe" in the 2015 Stanford University rape case that called for a nationwide reckoning of on-campus sexual assault and the criminal justice system. Her name is Chanel Miller, and her award-winning memoir, Know My Name, is a thoughtfully crafted reflection on the pursuit of accountability at great personal cost. Miller is joined by author T Kira Madden. Streams on Zoom. Register at 5 pm Thursday, Sept. 3. Free.

Renaissance: Technically

Portland Center Stage's inaugural digital play is intended as an exploration of the possibilities, rather than constraints, of digital theater. Experimental in more ways than one, the devised, still-in-process work will draw on the talents of actors, dancers and visual artists, led by Portland playwright Josie Seid. Streams on Zoom, 7:30 pm Friday, Sept. 4. Tickets are pay what you will.

Poetry Reading with Gina Williams, Dan Raphael and Christopher Luna

Local poets Gina Williams, Dan Raphael and Christopher Luna come together for a virtual reading, bringing selections from their latest work. On the docket will be poetry on beautiful things, ugly things, cosmological babies and jazz quartets. Streams on Crowdcast. Register at 7 pm Monday, Sept. 14. Free.

Bad Citizen

Northwest Theater Workshop and Theater Vertigo's series of eight new short works by local playwrights grapples with what it means to be a good citizen in a broken society. The first four free, online plays debut this month, the rest in October. Streams on Zoom, 7:30 pm Friday, 2 and 7:30 pm Saturday, Sept. 18-19 and Oct. 9-10. Free, donations accepted.


Milagro Theatre's festival of new plays is a yearly highlight, offering imaginative, heartfelt full-length works by emerging Latinx playwrights. This year should be no different, even though the festival has moved entirely online. Sept. 20-28. See for more details.
Colson Whitehead and Mitchell S. Jackson

Acclaimed authors Colson Whitehead and Mitchell S. Jackson meet for an evening of conversation on literature, social justice and the nature of juvenile corrections. Whitehead's most recent novel, The Nickel Boys, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, while Portland native Jackson's recent memoir Survival Math earned widespread praise for its meditations on race, violence and masculinity. Streams via Literary Arts, 6 pm Thursday, Sept. 24. Sold out.

Elisa Gabbert in Conversation with Samantha Irby and Sarah Rose Etter

Poet Elisa Gabbert is joined by authors Samantha Irby and Sarah Rose Etter for a timely discussion on disasters and our new virtual frontier of living—plagues, witch hunts, techno-paranoia, etc. Each author, through comedy, fiction or essay, gives fresh voice to the philosophical problem of what it means to exist online. Streams on Zoom. Register at 5 pm Friday, Sept. 25. Free.

Mlima's Tale

Rather than canceling or postponing its season, Profile Theatre has switched to audio plays. First up is Mlima's Tale, which follows the ivory tusks and ghost of a poached Kenyan elephant named Mlima. In the hands of Profile Theatre, Mlima's Tale—which debuted in New York two years ago with sparse staging—is unlikely to lose any of its spectral magic in audio format. Streams at Oct. 7-Nov. 4. Tickets sliding scale.

Soovin Kim
Chamber Music Northwest's new artistic directors, Soovin Kim and Gloria Chen, are starting new jobs at a weird time, to say the least. But unlike most other Portland arts institutions, CMNW has essentially already made it through a season of digital programming—in June, the organization managed to pivot its popular five-week summer festival entirely online. Kim kicks off CMNW's first virtual season with a free performance of Bach's solo violin sonatas and partitas. Streams via Chamber Music Northwest, 7 pm Saturday, Oct. 10. Free.

Helen Macdonald

Naturalist Helen Macdonald is best known for writing about birds and, perhaps more impressively, convincing others they need to read about birds. Her latest book is Vesper Flights, a collection of essays about the human relationship to the natural world. Expect ruminations on ostriches, nests, swifts and the delicate art of swan-catching. Streams via Literary Arts, 7:30 pm Tuesday, Oct. 13. Series tickets $90-$355, individual tickets available closer to the event.


Nearer Nature: Worth Your Salt

Like most of us during the pandemic, artist Malia Jensen has been itching to get out into nature. For her six-hour video Worth Your Salt—the first edition of the Portland Art Museum's virtual resident series—the Portland artist created salt block sculptures that she placed in six different locations around Oregon. With the help of motion-triggered cameras, she recorded the elk, deer and pheasants who passed by or licked the salt sculptures, including one shaped like a human foot. Streams at Through Nov. 7. Free.
Essential Sounds Season Finale

Though the Oregon Symphony has canceled all its live performances for the rest of the year, it's ramped up its free digital content. That includes Essential Sounds, a YouTube series that started in June in which musicians share stories and play musical tribute to essential workers. The five preceding episodes are already online, and the sixth and final installment, which features violinist Gregory Ewer's ode to community, debuts this week. Streams at Premieres 7 pm Wednesday, Sept. 2. Free. 


Like most Portland dance studios, BodyVox is closed to the public until further notice. In the meantime, four of the company's past theatrical performances are available for streaming on its website, including the goofy, whimsical Urban Meadow. Streams at Free.

Church of Film TV

Before quarantine, Church of Film's thrice-weekly, mostly free screenings were the best place to see unheard of, visually striking movies from almost every continent, dug up by series programmer Muriel Lucas. Now, Lucas' labor-of-love finds are available for free on Church of Film's regularly updated Vimeo page. Streams at
CST CoVideothon

Clinton Street Theater is hardly the only local movie theater to move online during the pandemic—Hollywood Theatre and NW Film Center's streaming options are definitely worth paying attention to—but the Clinton's online options are almost all local, DIY productions, including titles from the recent quarantine edition of local horror film festival Guignolfest. Streams at

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Many Portland Arts Venues Are Closed, but That Doesn't Mean That Nothing Is Happening. Here Are the 20 Best Things to Do, Watch and Livestream This Fall.

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