Here Are Five Spring Arts Events Worth Seeking Out

Theater? Check. Music? Check. Road trip? Check.

Sudan Archives IMAGE: Dylan VanWeelden (Dylan VanWeelden)

Fertile Ground Festival of New Works

After going virtual during the pandemic and taking a hiatus in 2023, Fertile Ground is ready to bloom again with a fresh roster of in-person productions. Portlanders can once again experience the community-driven festival’s diverse and eclectic mix of artistic voices, styles and genres: world premieres of plays, workshops and readings, comedy, film, and more. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to see what’s new in Portland’s arts scene at this 11-day festival, which has a history of unleashing performances that offer the raw, vibrant rush of pure innovation. Multiple locations, 503-449-6270, April 12-21. Festival passes $35-$75.

Rogue World Music Festival

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival isn’t the only event worth a road trip to Ashland. Over Memorial Day weekend, Rogue World will present live performances, visual art, and workshops featuring artists from around the world. Among the buzziest attractions are the HeartBeat Stories (an evening of music and stories of “home”), a celebration of songs from the Celtic diaspora (featuring Rogue World Music’s Travis Puntarelli), and a percussion workshop in Pear Blossom Park. Hey, if you’re driving over four hours, you may as well return with some new skills. Multiple locations, 541-203-0731, May 24-27. Free.

She Persisted: The Musical

When Mitch McConnell declared, “Nevertheless, she persisted,” he inadvertently provided Elizabeth Warren with one of 21st century America’s snazziest political slogans—and inspired the title of Chelsea Clinton’s book She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World. In turn, the book inspired a musical, about a fourth grade girl whose class trip to a museum turns into an adventure through time, featuring encounters with Harriet Tubman, Virginia Apgar, Ruby Bridges, Sally Ride, Florence Griffith Joyner and Sonia Sotomayor. Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, 503- 248-4335, April 28-May 26. $26-$49.

Sanctuary City

Third Rail has long been a destination for sleekly produced, intellectually provocative plays. So it’s no wonder the company was drawn to Sanctuary City, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Martyna Majok (Cost of Living). Ezri Reyes, Melory Mirashrafi and Brave Sohacki star in this tale of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. exploring their dreams and their love for each other. Providing a human perspective on an eternally politicized issue, the production is a call to action from the fabulously inventive theater director Cristi Miles, who is currently a co-artistic director of Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble. CoHo Theater, 2257 NW Raleigh St., 503-235-1101, March 1-17. $45.

Sudan Archives with special guests Melanie Charles and Bad Snacks

Singer, songwriter and avant-garde violinist Sudan Archives has a reputation for blowing away crowds from Coachella to Pitchfork’s Midwinter festival (and collaborating with fellow luminaries like St. Vincent, Ibeyi, and Michael Kiwanuka). Now, thanks to the PDX Jazz Festival, the righteous vocals and brilliant songwriting of R&B’s surging star can be heard in concert at the Portland Art Museum, where she’ll continue expanding the genre beyond the traditional standard of greatness. You’ll want to experience her musical mastery in person, whether you’re among her throngs of new fans or one of the already converted. Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park Ave., 503-228-5299, Friday, March 1. $49.75.

See the rest of 2024′s Spring Arts Guide here!

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.