We are in an age when old paradigms are being demolished. Dichotomies such as black and white, gay and straight, male and female, have proved to be too limiting. So, many people are wriggling with gusto out of the strictures. Some shows that are opening on Twin Cities stages reflect this trend.
It’s likely that Taylor Mac’s “Hir” will not only be the edgiest production opening on Twin Cities stages this weekend — it likely also is the one to be most in tune with the contemporary zeitgeist.
Mac is a transgressive, Obie-winning queer performance artist known for breaking rules, which he does with gusto in “Hir.”
The play, a dramatic comedy or comedic drama — take your pick — revolves around two polar figures in one family. Ex-Marine Isaac has returned from Afghanistan hungry for familiar structures and institutions. But he finds no comfort at home where his mother has become a free spirit, his hyper-macho father has become a shadow of himself because of a stroke and his onetime sister, Maxine, now goes by Max and wishes to be called by the gender-neutral “hir.”
The play, whose title comes from the elision of him and her, was hailed at its 2014 San Francisco premiere as “engrossing entertainment” by Robert Hurwitt of the San Francisco Chronicle.
But it’s a lot more than entertainment.
“This show is about the end of the white male power structure as we know it,” said Jack Reuler, founding artistic director of Mixed Blood. “In 39 seasons, this is the first show that we’ve done with an all-white cast, and that’s significant. It’s about putting the status quo in the past.”
New York director Niegel Smith, who helmed the premiere, stages a Twin Cities version that is headlined by Sally Wingert as the mother, John Paul Gamoke as the father, Dustin Bronson as Isaac, and transgender New York-based actor Jay Eisenberg as Max.
(7:30 p.m. Wed.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun., ends March 22; Mixed Blood Theatre, 1501 E. 4th St., Mpls. $20 guaranteed admission; free rush line. 612-338-6131 or mixedblood.com.)
‘Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women’
There’s a warning that comes with the promotional materials for this show that was created by Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein: It “contains feminine subject matter including teenage diaries, breast feeding, tampons, shadow puppets, pantyhose, menstrual cycles, slumber parties, menopause and maxi pads.”
But, of course, the production, which is like a comedic slumber party onstage, also is about other things, including humor and honor, seriousness and silliness. Actors Melanie Wehrmacher and Jen Scott lead this mix of sketch comedy, punning songs and improvisational games.
(7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 2:30 p.m. Sun., ends April 19; New Century Theatre, 615 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. $29.50. 612-455-9501 or hennepintheatretrust.org.)
‘Other Desert Cities’
Playwright Jon Robin Baitz pulls the scab off the wounds and hurts of a Reagan-esque family with secrets in this Pulitzer finalist. Robert Goudy directs a cast that includes Elena Giannetti and Maggie Bearmon Pistner.
(7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sat., ends March 22; Black Box Theater in the Bloomington Center for the Arts. 1800 W. Old Shakopee Rd., Bloomington. $24, 952-563-8575 or btacmn.org.)