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It’s a pity that “Word Becomes Flesh” had such a short engagement at Minneapolis’ Intermedia Arts over the weekend.
More people needed to have had an opportunity to see Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s potent and absorbing hip hop choreopoem about fatherhood, love, history and the present.
The show, performed by a lyrical quintet of spoken word artists and dancers, is more than an updated male version of Ntozake Shange’s landmark “For Colored Girls.”
Joseph, a Walker Art Center favorite, crafted the piece a decade ago after a spiritual pilgrimage to West Africa. “Word” is a sequence of letters written by a father to an unborn son. The show offers advice and explanations in monologues. It has deft word play, using elaborate rhymes and subtle repetition to extend and sometimes contradict meanings.
The five performers — Daveed Diggs, Dahlak Brathwaite, Ben Turner, Mic Turner and B.Yung — take turns embodying their vignettes. They are committed and heartfelt in their performances, delivering with honesty.
It is a hip hop-inflected show —deejay Dion Decibels is an essential part of the team — but it’s not about pose or swag or the masks of the form. It’s a deep exploration of symbols and archetypes as they affect the present and the future. In other words, it is well worth a longer airing.
"Lorca in a Green Dress" has been whited out.
Pangea World Theater and Teatro del Pueblo have cancelled their joint production of Nilo Cruz's surreal play because of the spring snowstorm that is expected to dump up to half a foot of snow on the Twin Cities.
For ticket info and exchanges, clal the Ritz Theater box office, 61-2-436-1129.
The Playwrights’ Center of Minneapolis has named Keri Kellerman (above) its managing director. She fills a newly created position at one of the nation's play-development meccas.
Kellerman comes from Seattle, a city where she has worked in nonprofit arts leadership for the past 15 years. She had been managing director of a revived Intiman Theatre for the past year. Intiman has been reorganizing under the weight of financial issues. The former regional company, founded in 1972, has come back as a summer festival.
Kellerman, who attended Pacific Lutheran University and Temple University School of Law, also had been director of advancement for a performance series at the University of Washington.
She will oversee the administrative staff and fundraising at the center, complementing the leadership of producing director Jeremy Cohen.
"We've haven't had a managing director in the past three years but it's clear that we need one," said Cohen. "One of Keri's assets is in fundraising, and we need that in an organization where virtually everything is free. She's a funny, warm, deeply engaging spirit. I'm thrilled to welcome her to this community."
Kellerman starts fulltime in May.
The Twin Cities has lost one of its most enigmatic and engaging stage presences.
Phil Kilbourne, 61, an actor known for essaying wonky, spooky roles in the Twin Cities and comic ones in the Boston area, died Saturday, April 6 on the two-year anniversary of his diagnosis for metastatic melanoma.
“He always had a great sense of occasion and timing,” said Marysue Moses, his high school sweetheart and widow. “I thought he may have left us on Easter, but that’s Jesus’ day. Then we thought that maybe he would’ve left us on April Fools. That also would’ve been very much like him.”
Kilbourne performed on many stages in the Twin Cities. He brought gentleness and humor to a range of characters in Penumbra Theatre's productions of "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," “Dinah Was,” “Black Eagles,” “Sex Diary of an Infidel” and “I Wish You Love.”
“He won a place in the company with his wit and solid craft that didn’t get in the way of his work,” said Penumbra's Lou Bellamy. “Phil could play any role and play it well. He just got lost in his characters and was a dream to be around.”
Kilbourne also was a regular at the Jungle, where he played a Russian scientist in “Hapgood,” a packrat in “The Dazzle” and the devil in "The Seafarer."
“He was a popular Jungle actor not only with me but with our audience,” said Jungle founder Bain Boehlke, who directed Kilbourne in a number of plays. “He was very intelligent and was excellent at accents. Phil always brought very imaginative choices to the table.”
For three decades, Kilbourne returned every summer to the Boston area, where he had done his undergraduate degree, to play swells and bon vivants in Noel Coward comedies.
“He had this bifurcated career,” said Moses, who owns and runs a theater training school in St. Paul. “People on the East Coast knew him as this comic guy and here he played these enigmatic physicist-devil characters.”
Born March 27, 1952 in Alexandria, Va., Kilbourne was raised in Ridgewood, New Jersey. He was named after both parents. His father, also named Phil Kilbourne, was a pediatrician. His mother, Phyllis (but called Phil) was a nurse and real estate agent. As a child, he was called Flip.
Encouraged by his mother, Kilbourne got the theater bug early, and earned his undergraduate degree in acting at Boston University and a master’s of fine arts in directing from The Ohio State University.
He worked in Ohio, San Francisco and other places before moving to the Twin Cities in 1997 to marry Moses, with whom he had gone to high school. Both of their previous respective marriages had ended.
“He was so funny,” said Moses. “We both enjoyed language and went through phases where we talked with nothing but English accents for months.”
Besides Moses, of St. Paul, Kilbourne is survived by stepdaughter Eliza Swanson, of Philadelphia, and siblings Kathy DiVittorio of Nahant, Mass., Tom Kilbourne of Harwich Port, Mass., Anne Hamilton of Morgan, Vt., Peter Kilbourne of Monroe, Conn., and two nephews.
Kilbourne’s body was cremated. A memorial service will be held at the Jungle in late spring.
“In the last month, as his memory got bad, he would be trying to say something and then become confused,” said Moses. “Then he would turn around and say, ‘I’ve still got it. I just don’t know where I put it.’”
The Ordway Center is saying goodbye to its 306-seat McKnight Theatre, which is being torn down to make way for an 1,100-seat concert hall, in grand style.
The St Paul venue has scheduled a blowout concert, called “The Night of a Million Stars,” for April 28. It will be the last public event there.
The show will feature artists who have performed in the theater over the past decades. The line-up offers such Twin Cities notables as Kersten Rodau, T. Mychael Rambo, Christina Baldwin, Jamecia Bennett, Dieter Bierbrauer, Gary Briggle, Yolande Bruce, Julius C. Collins III, Debbie Duncan, Nicole Fenstad, Ben Bakken, Jessica Fredrickson, Greta Grosch, Monica Heuser, Tonia Hughes, Jennifer Baldwin Peden, Kacie Riddle, Randy Schmeling, Erin Schwab, Austene Van and Regina Marie Williams.
The evening also will feature performances by James A. Rocco (above) artistic director at the Ordway, and conductor Raymond Berg. Tickets, $40-$250, are at 651-224-4222 or online.