Creativity should not require plausibility, correct? So, throwing caution to the wind, here are some ideas — fanciful or real, you choose — for the Twin Cities theater community to take on in the coming year.
Money is no object; talent is assumed, as is ambition. We just need to believe. So, in 2014, things I would like to see:
• The brightest spot at the Guthrie box office in 2013 was “Pride and Prejudice.” Gee, could it have been that everyone wanted to see Vincent Kartheiser on stage? How about asking Kartheiser back and pairing him with another TV denizen, James Denton, in a rib-tickling production of “The Odd Couple”? As an extra incentive, they play Felix and Oscar on alternating nights.
• The Metrodome is about to be a big empty room — perfect for some plucky theater company to come in, flood the field and do a site-specific take on “Mutiny on the Bounty.”
• There are so many great actresses in the Twin Cities, wouldn’t it be something to stage the classic play (made into the classic movie) “The Women”? I’ve got my cast already in mind.
• Here’s a novel idea. The Guthrie might consider putting on a three-play festival by a playwright not named Christopher Hampton. Would it need to be a single voice? How about a festival that mixes things up with perhaps new commissions from these three writers: Sarah Ruhl (“In the Next Room”), Suzan-Lori Parks (“Topdog/Underdog”) and Bruce Norris (“Clybourne Park”).
• While I’m on the idea of festivals, I could really go for a Tennessee Williams trilogy, in repertoire, by some place like the Jungle or Park Square. Imagine three straight nights of “Glass Menagerie,” “Streetcar Named Desire” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Perhaps even go with something less familiar — “Sweet Bird of Youth,” “Period of Adjustment” and “Suddenly, Last Summer.” Get 10 to 12 actors so no one is pulling too heavy a load (unless they want to) and then let them go.
• I dare some company to program an entire season of Chekhov. Tough sell? Certainly. But in the skilled hands of someone who really understands the brilliance of Chekhov’s major plays, this stuff can be transcendent. As a compromise, Chekhov and Ibsen — two each.
• New performance piece, based on the Minnesota Orchestra labor negotiations. This seems perfect for the Walker’s Out There series. The thinking here is an 8- to 10-hour Kabuki piece with perhaps a page and a half of dialogue. Feel free to get up and stretch your legs from time to time, go to dinner, get a drink, read the paper. The show will still be playing when you pop back in.
• Here’s hoping for a space to firmly establish itself as the successor to the McKnight stage at the Ordway. That nice 300-seat house was sacrificed to make a new home for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (and there is nothing wrong with that), but the McKnight had started to get legs as a good theater space. The Lab in Minneapolis — with, admittedly, a completely different aesthetic — makes perfect sense.
• Could you imagine Chanhassen Dinner Theatres putting “Avenue Q” on stage? I would love to be a fly in one of those cozy booths. (“Yes, Grandma, that puppet’s name is Lucy the Slut.”)
• I understand completely that no one (other than me) likes this idea, but I’ll throw it out there again: If unfettered freedom is what Fringe Festival crowds want, so be it. But if you added a juried, smaller festival alongside the free-for-all, you would add dimension without sacrificing the unmediated democracy.
• I’d like to see Sally Wingert and Wendy Lehr on stage together. Suggestions welcome. Two of the best actors in the Twin Cities deserve a chance to see what they can do.
• Real, sincere best wishes and hopes that Park Square Theatre will be able to christen the Andy Boss Thrust Stage in the basement of the Hamm Building. This project, several years in the cooker, will add another 200-seat theater under the able directorship of Richard Cook. If everything falls into place, we could see this open in September.
• To the Minnesota Legislature: No idle talk this year about what ideas you have for the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund. The State Arts Board has run this Legacy Amendment program right along the lines it was intended and the result has been a blossoming of performing-arts work getting into the state. If there’s any change that needs to be made, the fund should be tilted more to the arts board and away from the library system.
• On the idea of touring, Tom Hoch of Hennepin Theatre Trust and Peter Rothstein of Theater Latté Da have a dream of launching a show in Minneapolis and then taking it out to places such as Fargo-Moorhead, Duluth, St. Cloud, Mankato or Rochester. Here’s hoping they could pull that off with “Cabaret,” which opens in a couple of weeks.
• And how about getting a show — any show — to New York? It doesn’t even have to be Broadway. For all the firepower and creativity in this town, doesn’t it seem odd that we haven’t been able to get stuff into the big city? “Scottsboro Boys” and “Beyond the Rainbow” were imports that landed here for a buff-up before their Broadway debuts. How about a real, honest-to-goodness Twin Cities production getting on the truck?