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Five Portland Performances You Shouldn’t Miss This Spring

Following the smash success of Nanette, Hannah Gadsby is not leaving comedy—she’s going on a tour with three dates in Portland.

Escaped Alone
Caryl Churchill produced her first play in 1958. In the six decades since, she's written dozens more and won four Obie Awards over the years while writing about sexism and sexual politics. This May, Portland is getting the West Coast premiere of one of Churchill's newest plays, Escaped Alone, a satire about the end of the world, which The New York Times called "a short and wondrous play that plumbs the depths of 21st-century terrors, large and small." In Escaped Alone, scenes of four women drinking tea and making small talk in a garden are interspersed with monologues about a bizarre apocalypse. It's absurd, hilarious and touching, and since it will be staged by Shaking the Tree—whose productions are also often absurd, hilarious and touching—Escaped Alone is all but guaranteed to be a highlight of the season. Shaking the Tree Theatre, 823 SE Grant St., shaking-the-tree.com, 7:30 pm Thursday-Sunday, May 3-June 1. $10-$30   

Hannah Gadsby
The past year has been a wild ride for Hannah Gadsby. Her 2018 Netflix special, Nanette, which boosted her profile from relative obscurity to international headliner, is about white male toxicity in comedy, along with her experiences as a lesbian, "gender not normal" woman, and why she's decided to stop doing comedy. Now, following the smash success of Nanette, she's not leaving comedy—she's going on a tour with three dates in Portland. Douglas, a new show named after one of her dogs, kicks off in Melbourne, Australia, later in March, and picks up where Nanette left off. Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, portland5.com, 8 pm Wednesday-Friday, May 15-17 $42.25-$63.50

Crossing Mnisose
Crossing Mnisose is next in Portland Center Stage's incipient Northwest Stories series, following last year's epic Astoria. Pronounced "mini-so-shay" and titled for the river that Europeans renamed the Missouri, Mnisose examines the legacy of Sacajawea through the present-day lens of the Dakota and Lakota Nations' ongoing battle over lands containing ancestral burial grounds. Playwright, activist and lawyer Mary Kathryn Nagle, who was commissioned by PCS to write the play, captivated audiences last year at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival with her ManahattaPortland Center Stage, 128 NW 11th Ave., pcs.org, 7:30 pm Tuesday-Sunday, 2 pm Saturday-Sunday, April 13-May 5 $25-$82

Jump
At the beginning of Jump, a young woman named Fay arrives at a bridge over a deep gorge, looking for a place to grieve her recently deceased mother. Surprisingly, what follows is a whimsical, optimistic journey. Jump was written by up-and-coming playwright Charly Evon Simpson and produced by Milagro Theatre in collaboration with Confrontation Theatre, a floater company founded in 2016 with the aim of presenting "excellent, affordable theater, by and about the African diaspora." Simpson's play debuts as part of a program called New Play Network Rolling Premiere, so it debuts at two other theater companies in Chapel Hill, N.C., and Atlanta at the same time. Milagro Theatre, 525 SE Stark St., milagro.org, 7:30 pm Thursday-Saturday, 2 pm Sunday, March 21-April 13, $20-$27

Crowns
Based on the book Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats, Regina Taylor's musical tells the story of Brooklyn-born Yolanda, who travels to South Carolina after the death of her brother. The heart of the play centers on the relationships Yolanda develops with a group of women who teach her all about their ostentatious hats. Joyous, costume-forward, and full of gospel music, Crowns figures to be one of the biggest spectacles you can see on stage in Portland this year. Portland Playhouse, 602 NE Prescott St., portlandplayhouse.org, 7:30 pm Wednesday-Sunday, March 13-April 7, $25-$75

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