The New School
Willamette Week, September 15, 1999
By Steffen Silvis
These people are changing Portland’s artisticlandscape. If you don’t know of them already, you soon will.
What gets you off of your couch? Are you more likely to be drawn to the sunny waterfront for a brew-and-rib fest than to a darkened theater to see an experimental film? What are the chances that this Sunday you’ll pick up a comic book about race relations instead of peeking at Family Circus? Have you ever considered trucking down to a small gallery to see an installation instead of window shopping at the mall?
Don’t be ashamed if you come up short when it comes to artistic experimentation. We all get a little… comfortable. What you need is inspiration. And information. And a look at the new creative face of this city. The Portlanders in this issue are doing their damnedest to kick your butt into the local arts scene. Please comply.
In two years, Liminal has become one of Portland’s leading performance groups, producing a small but impressive body of work that is unabashedly intelligent, provocative and inspired by both modern European theatrical theories and the landscape of the Northwest.
As the artistic director and playwright, Bryan Markovitz is the driving force behind the success of the company. Markovitz came to Portland three years ago from Texas, where he was an acting and directing student at Trinity University.
Trinity not only offered Markovitz a good grounding in traditional theater but also encouraged enthusiasm for theories that lie beyond the average theater’s perspective. Current thoughts in anthropology, architecture and movement theory are integral to Markovitz’s work.
Markovitz spent a stint with a Houston company called Infernal Bridegroom, where he came close to burning to death on stage after his costume caught fire in an adaptation of Othello that was using cans of Sterno for lighting. Surviving that, he came to Portland, which he has found to be the ideal spot to develop his ideas because the city is still affordable for artists.
In a city that, in many ways, is still coping with the death of burlesque, Markovitz and his company offer other young and serious artists an excellent example of how to think globally and act locally.