Welcome to Artcetera. Arts-and-entertainment writers and critics post movie news, concert updates, people items, video, photos and more. Share your views. Check it daily. Remain in the know. Contributors: Mary Abbe, Aimee Blanchette, Jon Bream, Tim Campbell, Colin Covert, Laurie Hertzel, Tom Horgen, Neal Justin, Claude Peck, Rohan Preston, Chris Riemenschneider, Graydon Royce, Randy Salas and Kristin Tillotson.
If you have 30 minutes to spare, check out “Theater People,” a web series created by Matthew Anderson. He wrote, directed and edited ten episodes about the drama behind drama. It’s all locally made – which is important these days, right? At least when it comes to garden produce.
Anderson had toiled for many years in the Twin Cities theater market and then took a stab at Los Angeles. He came back but has put his energy behind a camera. The concept here is just to lampoon the quirks and tics of theater life. But it all feels friendly and cheeky as it lands its punches – kind of like Kate Wetherhead’s “Submissions Only.”
Theaters, private homes and public streets provide cost-free locations and the actors in “Theater People” are doing it mostly for fun.
And it is fun. Stacia Rice and Steve Sweere play former spouses who still run Theatre Unhinged. Sweere is an aging lothario auditioning potential Juliets to his Romeo – but really just trying to make out with young women. Rice’s character watches with simmering but controlled rage. In another scenario, Mark Mattison does a florid and pompous director crafting an original production that he is says is based on the work of Aleister Crowley. Jane Froiland, Jen Rand, Matt Sciple, Katie Willer and Sara Marsh all contribute.
There are ten episodes on the web site, each about eight minutes long. Anderson would like to put together another season and is hoping for some real funding this time. It’s definitely worth having a look and supporting.
Minnesota artist Andrea Stanislav's "Nightmare" video of a white horse galloping on water was hobbled by technical problems in 2011 when the University of Minnesota associate professor planned to show the video as part of that summer's Northern Spark festival in the Twin Cities.
On July 25-26, 2014, however, Stanislav's magical illusion was a success in St. Petersburg, Russia under the aegis of Manifesta 10 Parallel Projects. There the full-scale white horse appeared on a video screen that was pulled on a barge along the Neva River, past the State Hermitage Museum, and through some 30 kilometer's of the city's canals.
Russian media loved the project and covered it in more than 60 print publications, 10 television stations and three radio outlets, Stanislav said. Thousands of people stayed up as late as 2 a.m. to view the horse from river embankments throughout the city.
"We were planning on performing 'Nightmare" on the Moscow River on September 19 in conjunction with the Moscow Art Fair," Stanislav said in an email. But that and another Moscow plan "is hostage to the current international situation and on hold."
Meanwhile she's working to present "Nightmare" in New York next year.
The old Brave New Workshop at 2605 Hennepin Av. S., Minneapolis, has been sold and will be rebranded as a performance space operated by a new nonprofit.
Dudley Riggs had moved his comedy troupe into the building in the early 1960s and it served as home to shows almost continuously until 2011, when the owners of the business moved the club downtown.
Still, the Workshop was using the 2605 Hennepin space as the Brave New Institute School, where classes in improvisation and other stagecraft were held. No one from the Workshop was available to comment on the future of that program. Mike Fotis and Joe Bozic, both veterans who had performed on stage, had been co-directors of the school. They both left earlier this year for other jobs. The Brave New Workshop business is owned by John Sweeney and Jenni Lilledahl, who purchased it in 1997 from Riggs.
The theater, which had about 200 seats, will be remodeled and operated as the Phoenix Theatre. A nonprofit called The Arts’ Nest is being launched to program the space, according to the group’s executive director, Jenna Papke.
Papke said the purchase price was $485,000 and the buyer was an individual who has organized a limited liability partnership called ERK. She did not identify the person, other than to say he or she is on the Arts’ Nest board of directors. The building is being rented to The Arts’ Nest for the cost of taxes and insurance, Papke said. Records show that the 2014 tax bill was about $25,000.
Those documents also show that the previous owner was RICMAR LLC, with an address for Richard Kohn of Cumberland, Wis.
Papke said the new space will open in November. Mission Theatre Company will be the first company to use the theater, with a new work by playwright Sam Graber. The play, "Detainee," will run Nov. 6-15.
Hundreds of actors and writers found their legs in The Brave New Workshop at 2605 Hennepin. Al Franken and Tom Davis did shows there. Hollywood screenwriter Pat Proft called the theater one of best rooms for comedy because of the way laughter resounded off the walls. Sweeney and Lilledahl had moved BNW shows to Calhoun Square for about three years but moved back in 2002.
Aparna Ramaswamy rehearsed "Song of the Jasmine" in Minneapolis in May, 2014. Star Tribune photo by Elizabeth Flores.
The work, incorporaing Ragamala's south Indian dance vocabulary with music by jazz saxophonist and composer Rudresh Mahanthappa, was premiered in Minneapolis in May. It was a commission of Walker Art Center.
Showtime Thursday is 7:30 p.m., at the Damrosch Park bandshell. Admission is free. Ragmala Dance co-founders Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy give a free talk at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Asia Society.
Ranee Ramaswamy, Rudresh Mahanthappa and Aparna Ramaswamy. Star Tribune photo by Elizabeth Flores.
There’s a fair amount of Minnesota heat at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.
The prestigious Opening Night slot goes to “The Judge,” written by Minneapolis native Nick (“Gran Torino”) Schenk. The film boasts the world’s biggest movie star, Robert Downey Jr., as a cosmopolitan superlawyer who finds himself in his corn belt home town, defending his estranged father (Robert Duvall) on a murder charge. First Clint Eastwood as a testy retired auto worker, then Duvall as a peppery retired jurist. Schenk sure has something about grumpy old men.
After decades away from the director’s chair, longtime producer William Pohlad takes the helm with “Love & Mercy,” a biographical drama about the Beach Boys’ troubled genius Brian Wilson. Since directing his first film, 1990’s “Old Explorers,” he’s collaborated with the likes of Ang Lee, Steve McQueen, Robert Altman, Terrence Malick, Doug Liman and Sean Penn. It should be interesting to see how the Twins scion has upped his game. His new film stars Paul Dano, John Cusack and Paul Giamatti.
The there’s “Wild,” a new drama from Jean-Marc Vallée (“Dallas Buyers Club”) based on the memoir by Minnesota native Cheryl Strayed. Reese Witherspoon plays Strayed as she copes with personal issues on a long-distance hiking adventure that challenges and heals her.
The Toronto International Film Festival runs Sept. 4-14.
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