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Kia Corthron, a playwright of lyrical language and hard subjects who has been associated with the Children's Theatre and Penumbra in the Twin Cities, has won a Windham Campbell Prize, Yale University announced on Friday.
The honor, administered by the university, comes with a $150,000 purse.
Corthron, a writer who uses fierce and lyrical language to tackle tough subjects, is best known for "Breath, Boom," "The Venus de Milo is Armed" and "Splash Hatch on the E Going Down," a play about environmental degradation.
She also has written for the television shows "The Wire" and "The Jury."
Corthron wrote "Snapshot Silhouettes" for the Children's Theatre, a drama about tensions between African-American and Somali students that played in 2004.
Corthron also has been commissioned by the Guthrie Theater.
The playwright, who is American, is one of eight writers named as winners of the Windham Campbell Prize, which awarded a total of $1.2 million Friday.
The others are dramatists Sam Holcroft of Britain and Noëlle Janaczewska of Australia; fiction writers Nadeem Aslam of Pakistan, Jim Crace of the United Kingdom and Aminatta Forna of Sierra Leone; and nonfiction writers Pankaj Mishra of India and John Vaillant, who is Canadian-American.
Minneapolis author R.D. Zimmerman, who writes under the pen name Robert Alexander, is thrilled that one of his novels, "The Kitchen Boy," is becoming a film with prestigious names attached -- Oscar-winning screenwriter Sir Ronald Harwood ("The Pianist," "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," "Quartet") has written the script, and Stefan Ruzowitzky, who won Best Foreign Language Oscar in 2008 for "The Counterfeiters," will direct. Kristin Scott Thomas will star as Tsarina Alexandra Romanov in the fictionalized tale of the tumultous final ruling days of Tsar Nicholas II before he and his family were banished to Siberia.
Zimmerman, who sold a business he co-owned in St. Petersburg two years ago, helped raise Russian money to finance the project so his book could go Hollywood.
"Or as they say in Russia, Gollyvood," he said.
The film will probably shoot for a month this summer in Lithuania, which offers a good film-production rebate, and a few days in Russia.
"Luckily there's a band of imperial Russian buildings in Lithuainia we can use" to stand in for the tsar's royal quarters, he said.
Amiri Baraka, the highly influential Beat poet, playwright, critic and publisher, has died. He had been suffering from a weeks-long illness. He was 79.
Baraka was an important member of the Beat generation, alongside Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, before he split with them to help launch Black Arts Movement. He influenced generations of writers, espeically black writers who became empowered by his call to create art in the service of struggle and liberation.
Baraka's 1964 play, "Dutchman," is considered a classic. A withering psychosexual work about race, class and privilege, it has been produced nationwide, including at Pillsbury House Theatre in Minneapolis where it starred founder Ralph Remington alongside Jennifer Blagen.
"Thanks for all that you contributed to the wonderful world of American theater," Remington, former head of theater and musical theater at the National Endowment for the Arts, posted on Facebook.
The Los Angeles Times has a comprehensive obituary of Baraka.
Photo of Hearne, Texas, street by Alec Soth.
The dreamy on-the-road partnership between photographer Alec Soth and writer Brad Zellar just wrapped another chapter. Chronicled in their self-styled newspaper, The LBM Dispatch, the two visit various parts of the country and attempt to capture that mix of geography, humanity and circumstance that creates regional character.
Though the results often seem serendipitous, they have an itinerary heading out, Zellar said. “We hate being in the van so we usually know where we’re going with some idea of why,” he said.
They’ve previously applied their particular documentary style to Ohio, Michigan, Colorado and upstate New York This time out the pair tackled the Texas Triangle, a more than 60,000-square mile swath that’s home to 70 percent of the state’s population. Among their stops were the site of JFK’s assassination on its 50th anniversary, the 16th execution of a Texas death-row prisoner in 2013, and a tatty shrine to the Virgin Mary erected by a farmer who claimed in a hand-lettered sign that she helped him get his tractor unstuck.
Throughout the trip, Zellar and Soth had looked in vain for that archetypal kind of town made immortal by “The Last Picture Show.” Toward the end, on the way back to Huntsville to cover the state’s 16th and last execution of the year, they stumbled onto tiny, desolate Hearne.
“It was at the exact epicenter of the Texas Triangle formed by San Antonio, Dallas and Houston,” Zellar said. “The light was perfect. There were no cars. Along six or seven blocks of this super-wide main street, everything was closed down but a drugstore. It was spooky, it was so abandoned. When we got back to the motel we found out it was one of the first towns that WalMart moved into.”
Unusually unprofitable itself, that WalMart was closed in 1990 and turned into a high school.
Like the LBM’s five previous editions, a print version of the collected stories and photos may be previewed and purchased at lbmdispatch.tumblr.com.
The duo have been attracting interest from far-flung corners, including the New Yorker’s Photo Booth blog and the Russian version of Esquire magazine, which flew a stylist and three trunks of designer clothes from Moscow to Grand Junction, Colorado, for a fashion shoot photographed by Soth and featuring Zellar as the model. Brad was game for the job, despite momentary hesitation on how to pronounce “Givenchy.”
See below for one of the surreal images from that experience.
Brad Zellar channels Cary Grant in "North by Northwest" for a fashion shoot for Russian Esquire. Photo by Alec Soth.
Internationally known Minneapolis photographer Alec Soth has produced a limited edition of 100 prints (above) whose sale will go to support the Soap Factory, a non-profit Minneapolis arts organization that showcases experimental projects in a former factory warehouse. This summer Soth staged a "slide show" review there at which participants in his Summer Camp for Socially Awkward Photographers explained and exhibited their own work.
Soth's own work has garnered international attention for the past decade at the 2004 Whitney and Sao Paulo biennials, in 2008 shows at the Jeu de Paume in Paris and the Photomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland, and a 2010 retrospective at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. While his gallery and museum career perks along, Soth uses the book format to tell stories in pictures. At regular intervals he turns out small editions of books and magazines that quickly become collector's items including "Sleeping by the Mississippi," (2004); "NIAGARA," (2006), "Fashion Magazine," (2007); "Dog Days, Bogota," (2007); "The Last Days of W," (2008); "Broken Manual," (2010). For the past five years he's been devoting a lot of attention to quirky publications issued through his publishing firm, Little Brown Mushroom.
The Soap Factory print is roughly 12 inches wide by 9 inches tall and will be issued in an edition of 100. Cost $400. Orders can be placed through the Soap Factory here.
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