The bigger theaters are up and running in this fall season. This weekend, three companies distinguished for their strong flavors of production and intention kick off the new year in Minneapolis.

Red Eye

This small company has marched to a different drummer for decades with an eye toward theater that often requires more time to digest. It can be experimental, just off the beam, and when done well quite provocative.

Artistic director Steve Busa this time has conceived of a show called “The Slow Motion Carnival,” inspired by Jean-Luc Godard’s film “Contempt” and August Strindberg’s play “Miss Julie.”

Playwright Katharine Sherman (who worked with Red Eye in “Will You Still Love Me, Tomorrow?”) wrote the script.

Briefly, the plot is about a screenwriter hired to create a commercial version of “Miss Julie.” However, the real meat of the production will reveal itself in the shifting realities of fiction (a play within a play) and the relationships that are tested through the process.

8 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Ends Oct. 25 • Red Eye, 15 W. 14th St. Mpls. • $8-$25 • 612-870-0309,

Classical Actors Ensemble

Joseph Papke has created a space for actors who really want to flex their muscles and stretch their capacity for memorizing material. The ensemble for several years has produced works from the classic British canon in repertory. That means learning two toothsome shows each time out.

Here, the actors will need to wrap their heads around Christopher Marlowe’s classic “Doctor Faustus” and Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” Marlowe’s play is based on Goethe’s famous tale of a scholar who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge and power. We know how that generally works out in the many adaptations that have followed through the centuries. Shakespeare’s play is about an exiled duke marooned on a strange island after a shipwreck.

Papke’s stagings are hefty affairs (longish), with snippets of music performed between acts (a custom from the period in which the plays were written). The acting company has been mixed but generally has a real taste for the material. Michael Ooms, who was terrific in “The Duchess of Malfi” last November, heads the cast.

The two plays will alternate performances.

7:30 p.m. Fri., 2 & 7:30 p.m. Sat., 2 p.m. Sun, 7:30 p.m. Thu. Ends Nov. 1 • Minneapolis Theatre Garage, 711 W. Franklin Av., Mpls. • $15-$30 • 651-3231-4024 or

Ten Thousand Things

Artistic director Michelle Hensley loves to see how much stretching and tweaking classic theater can take. Generally, her instincts are spot on and we find different dimensions in work with which we assumed we were familiar.

This weekend Ten Thousand Things opens Shakespeare’s “Henry IV, Part 1” with an all-female cast. Hensley directs this production, about the prince who must choose between a life of drunken thievery or fulfilling his father’s expectations and becoming a warrior. Duty or debauchery: Isn’t that the choice we all struggle with throughout our lives?

Michelle Barber plays King Henry IV, and Shá Cage is Prince Hal. The cast also includes Karen Wiese-Thompson as Falstaff and Anna Sundberg as Hotspur.

Ten Thousand Things previously has done single-sex casts with “Richard III” (men) and “Twelfth Night” (women).

7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 4 p.m. Sun., 7:30 p.m. Thu. Ends Nov. 1 • Open Book, 1011 Washington Av. S., Mpls. • $30 or pay what you can if under 30 • 1-800-838-3006,

Graydon Royce • 612-673-7299