When Mahershala Ali won the Oscar for best supporting actor in February for his breakout performance in Barry Jenkins’ celebrated film “Moonlight,” Ali’s effusive thanks included a heartfelt shout-out to Ken Washington, the late director of company development at the Guthrie Theater. Washington invited Ali to the Twin Cities in summer 1995 to be part of a cohort of graduate theater students who trained at the Guthrie Theater for two months then put on a show.
The Guthrie Experience, the program Washington founded, brings about a dozen of the nation’s most talented graduate students to Minnesota to hone their craft at the theater. Other notable alumni include Emmy winner Morena Baccarin of “Homeland” fame, Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us,” ), Ricardo Chavira of (“Desperate Housewives”), and Josh Radnor (“How I Met Your Mother”).
It’s likely that members of the 2017 Guthrie Experience class will find similar success.
They certainly are a talented bunch, as evidenced by “Incurable: A Fool’s Tale,” their devised, 90-minute one-act that plays through this weekend in the Dowling Studio.
The fluid, funny 90-minute one-act was written and is performed by its nine-member acting ensemble. The satirical play is inspired by the same story that gave rise to Verdi’s opera, “Don Carlos.” “Incurable” orbits mentally ill 16th-century Spanish prince Don Carlos (Oscar Emmanuel Fabela, above, in bed), whose father, King Philip II (DeLeon Dallas, center) married his the prince’s fiancé, Elizabeta (Shenyse LeAnna Harris, left).
A sadist who travels around with a bullwhip, Don Carlos molests many women of the kingdom. But he suffers a head wound that requires all the world’s best doctors. The play begins and closes with a funeral service for one of his victims.
Although a student production, “Incurable” is accomplished and quite polished. And it’s well worth seeing, even though it only runs this weekend.
The cast includes two actors — Ernest Bentley and Tia Jemison — who are both members of the Actors’ Equity union of professional actors. And all the others will no doubt be very soon.
They are supported by professionals, including Katharine Horowitz, who recently won a McKnight fellowship, designed the sound.
Noted director Marcela Lorca, who has helmed the training program since Washington’s death in Nov. 2014, directs “Incurable” with lyricism and humor. The performances are funny, in-the-moment and well-timed. The script, which has many contemporary touches, includes an angel on rollerblades (Aishling Pembroke).
“Incurable” has music composed by Brett Calo, who also is a nimble pianist. The ensemble is rounded out by Katie Rich and Kimberly Monks. They all work to create a work well to bring a fascinating story to beautiful life.
“Incurable” is well worth seeing. (7:30 p.m. Thu., 1 & 7:30 p.m. Sat., 1 p.m. Sun., Guthrie Theater, 818 S. 2nd St., Mpls. $9. 612-377-2224.)