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Posts about Theater

Over $1 million in support offered to new plays across the country

Posted by: Rohan Preston Updated: March 28, 2014 - 6:06 PM

The Theatre Communications Group on Friday announced the Edgerton Foundation New Play Awards had gone to 39 world premieres that are the recipient of over $1 million in financial support.

The impressive roster of winners for the 2013-2014 cycle includes plays that have already been produced, like film-maker Ethan Coen’s “Women or Nothing ,” which premiered at the Atlantic Theatre in New York last summer, and Matt Gould’s and Griffin Matthews’ “Witness Uganda” (pictured above, photo courtesy of ART), which closed March 16 at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge; and Rebecca Gilman’s “Luna Gale,” which closed in February at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre.

The list also includes works by playwrights who have some Twin Cities affiliation, such as Samuel D. Hunter, whose “Rest” opened Friday at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, Calif., and Marcus Gardley, whose “The Gospel of Lovingkindness” closes Sunday at Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago.

And there are some big names in the mix as well, including Pultizer-, Oscar- and Tony-winner John Patrick Shanley (“Outside Mullingar”), Tony winner Harvey Fierstein (“Casa Valentina”) and legendary musical theater composer John Kander, who has teamed up with new librettist Greg Pierce (“The Landing”).

In just seven years, the foundation has given over $6 million to support the world premieres of new works, primarily through extra rehearsal time. The foundation has an impressive track record. Thirteen of the plays it has supported have gone to Broadway, including Pulitzer winners “Next to Normal” and “Water by the Spoonful” and best play Tony winner “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.”

“The impact of this support is undeniable, with so many of the plays going on to numerous subsequent productions,” TCG executive director Teresa Eyring said in a statement.

What is striking is that while metropolitan areas such as Salt Lake City, Denver and Atlanta have theaters represented among the winners, there is not one Twin Cities playhouse on the list.

To be fair, there is new work being done in Minneapolis and St. Paul, including at the Children’s Theatre and Pillsbury House. Still, it’s surprising that such a fertile theater ecology would come up blank.

Mad King Thomas on (secret) home tour

Posted by: Claude Peck Updated: March 27, 2014 - 9:51 AM

POST BY CAROLINE PALMER, SPECIAL TO THE STAR TRIBUNE

Mad King Thomas members, from left, Theresa Madaus, Tara King, Monica Thomas. Photo by Mad King Thomas.

While the idea of bringing into a performance into someone’s home is not a new one, it’s still a concept worth exploring. A house is not a controlled environment like a theater – there are no special lights or sets or a proscenium to separate the artists and audience. On the other hand, there are many more choices to make about how to interact with the environment (and not break anything or need to call the fire department).

For the daring Sage Award-winning performance trio of Mad King Thomas (Theresa Madaus, Tara King and Monica Thomas) a house is the perfect setting for their new project “The Narrator is Suspect,” a glimpse into each woman’s background.

The many ideas underlying the work are drawn from travels the three artists took last year to one another’s childhood abodes (King: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Madaus: Cody, Wyoming; and Thomas: Great Barrington, Massachusetts). The three Macalester College alumni met one another’s relatives and observed how their own interactions with family differed from those of friends and colleagues.

Dubbing the entire effort an “immersive home experience,” Mad King Thomas plans to explore the secret histories we all hold and how they are translated with the passage of time and the capacity of memory. Public performances are at an undisclosed home in south Minneapolis this weekend (there have been some private showings as well).

“The Narrator is Suspect” will take place March 28 and 29 at 8 p.m. Reservations are required, so RSVP to madkingthomas@gmail.com for a spot. Admission is $10-$20 (sliding scale). For further information go to www.madkingthomas.com.

Just in, these added shows:
Thursday, April 3 at 7:30pm in St. Paul
Friday, April 4 at 7pm in northeast Minneapolis
Friday, April 11 at 8pm in south Minneapolis

Bedlam debuts Lowertown space with Morgan Thorson work

Posted by: Claude Peck Updated: March 24, 2014 - 12:38 PM
From left: Genevieve Muench,  Morgan Thorson, Max Wirsing and Jessica Cressey. Photo by Farrington Starnes.

Bedlam Theatre held its first performance Saturday night at its new Lowertown space in St. Paul and what good fortune to kick things off with the premiere of Morgan Thorson’s “YOU.” Thorson and her crew showed off some of the many possibilities for the big, airy refurbished room with a view of the Union Depot and waiting-to-be-used light rail tracks right outside the window. After the curtain call Bedlam co-founder Maren Ward thanked everyone for attending the “soft opening” (bigger festivities are planned for later this spring, when the space will open its accompanying bar and restaurant).

“YOU” explores the dynamics of a dance ensemble as well as the different personalities that emerge over the course of the creative process. This particular work delves into the positive aspects of interplay and how individuality sparks a collective goal. Joined by the terrific cast of Jessica Cressey, Genevieve Muench, Max Wirsing and special guest Emma Barber, Thorson (a two-time Sage Award-winner) has once again illustrated how a simple concept like collaboration can lead to a much deeper exploration of relationships and movement.

The audience is seated at each end of the space, so some of the experience depends on your location. Thorson plays with this dynamic, running the dancers around the space (and even some of the back rooms) but also experimenting with perspective, constantly shifting the front of the work so that it no longer seems necessary. The movement is pedestrian but when set to everything from Michael Jackson, Bee Gees and experimental harpist Zeena Parkins it acquires an extra level of confidence and showmanship.

Thorson injects several eclectic references to the work. There is a tiny twerk here and there, coupled with a skittering shuffle. All of the dancers don red velvet costumes with gold brocade, as if they ripped down the curtains from a Summit Avenue mansion (Cressey still wears the rod across her shoulders). They dance with determination and a high level of physical propulsion while looking like outcasts from a very peculiar marching band. It’s an excellent visual.

Midway through “YOU” the dancers chant “We trust that things are coming together,” reminding us that they are good dancers, we are “good lookers” and they look good in their costumes, too (created by Merrill Stringer and Thorson). As in many moments throughout the evening, Thorson uses self-reference to shift the perspective again. She and the other dancers work with such focus and commitment, that even the most lighthearted moments unfold with the same sort of care. This is a fine example of how five people can truly become one – or even one another.

Who:  Morgan Thorson

What: “YOU”

When: 8 p.m. Mon. & Thu.-Sat. Ends Mar. 29

Where: Bedlam Lowertown, 213 E. 4th St., St. Paul.

Tickets: $12-$18 (Mar. 24 pay-as-able). 612-341-1038 or www.bedlamtheatre.org

Gremlin gets its groove back

Posted by: Graydon Royce Updated: March 10, 2014 - 1:18 PM

Suzanne Warmanen, left, and Sara Richardson in "A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur."

 

Gremlin Theatre has turned lemons into lemonade for a production of "A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur." The small company had to shut down its run of the Tennessee Williams play last week at a St. Paul house rented from St. Clement's Episcopal church. Turns out the occupancy status of the house did not allow a theatrical production and negotiations with the city proved futile.

However, the show will go on, at Open Eye Figure Theatre in Minneapolis. Susan Haas, Open Eye's producing artistic director, offered Peter Hansen's company the use of an apartment space that is in the same building as Open Eye's theater. Hansen said the room, which Haas and Michael Sommers use as a workshop studio, will work perfectly. There's even a working kitchen in the back.

Jef Hall-Flavin directed the show, with a cast of Suzanne Warmanen, Sara Richardson, Jane Froiland and Noe Tallen. "Creve Coeur" is a late work from Williams that re-explores many of the themes of earlier plays. It's a one-act set in 1930's St. Louis.Hall-Flavin's production will move to the Williams festival in Provincetown, Mass., in September.

Gremlin's production opens at 7:30 Thursday and runs through the weekend (4 p.m. Sunday). The second week's performances run Wednesday through Sunday, with the same curtain times.

Go to gremlin-theatre.org for more information.

Playwright Kia Corthron wins $150,000 literary prize

Posted by: Rohan Preston Updated: March 8, 2014 - 4:06 PM

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. 

 

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