We are the world
This past Sunday was World Theatre Day. Did you know that? I must admit that I was so wrapped up in my ongoing observance of Season-Announcing Season that I completely failed to register it. There's just so much one must do to appease the gods of the Announcement as the Season comes to a close, and with all the sacrifices and dark rituals required (you won't believe how hard it is to get decent goat's blood these days!) I just didn't get around to celebrating World Theatre Day properly.
At least I can still partake in the annual Message. Every year, the Global Theatre Initiative, which started World Theatre Day, recruits an international theater maker to give a message to the people about how darned important theater is. This year, they upped the ante by issuing Messages from two international theater makers. That means it's twice as important this year!
What's in the Messages this time around? The same stuff as just about every year: theater is really important, especially in these troubled times; it's always been with us since the beginning of time, and it always will be; and all these other forms of entertainment are just passing fads, especially the ones with electronic doodads and whatnot. (Actually, one of the Messengers, Anatoli Vassiliev, literally wrote “To hell with gadgets and computers.")
The Message is supposed to be a rallying cry to energize all the theater makers around the world, but it always strikes me as being weirdly conservative. The Message is almost always looking back at the past, and the content is usually exhorting us to wind the clock back to some mythical golden era. Of course, this is necessary, since this modern world is big and scary and more full of terrible problems than it used to be. It's the upscale intellectual version of when your conservative uncle has a few too many drinks and launches into a speech with "Back in my day…"
It doesn't help that this year is also the big 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, which means we all have to endure a year of people around the globe going to increasingly silly lengths to celebrate the Bard. I guess it's cool from a logistical standpoint that someone can pull off a tour of Hamlet to every country in the world (except, of course, North Korea), but there's a niggling thought in my mind that this might just be one more bit of European imperialism that we won't let die.
Or, on a less political bent, I imagine how the movie industry would fare if all anyone aspired to was to endlessly redo Alfred Hitchcock's movies year after year. Remember Gus Van Sant's remake of Psycho? That's what it would look like. Like Vince Vaughn trying waaaaaay too hard, again and again, until the end of time.
But, who am I to tell you what to like? Go pray to Bill's holy relics all you want. Just be careful about insisting that your ancient worship is so obviously more important than everyone else's and obviously the thing that will fix everything today.
Also, to whoever took Shakespeare's skull: not cool, guys.
We are the here
I was all set this week to talk about big international and national stuff, what with it being so close to World Theatre Day and all, but I went and gave myself a big sad in the previous section. I could talk to you some more about the ongoing 99-seat fight with Actors Equity in LA, but all that's really happening is that the LA actors are hitting AEA with long, thoughtful letters and data-driven reasoning, and when have either of those things ever worked in America?
So, I'm going to take a cue from Paul Herwig's Right Here Showcase and spend the rest of my time with you this week talking about what's right here in my own backyard. I just happen to think it's the best and most important thing. You know, like how your local sports team is the best and most important thing.
This week, Minnesota has to say goodbye to someone who can probably never be replaced. Jaime Carrera was often described as a "performance artist", but through his work on the local, national and international stage, he proved that he wasn't particularly interested in being stuck in any genre or medium. Visual art, music, dance, performance: if you could think of it, her was there, pushing the boundary as far as it could go. Carrera died this week at the age of 43 from an undiagnosed heart condition. It's hard to describe everything about Carrera, but the one word that everyone comes back to is "fearless". Sheila Regan at City Pages also said of him, "He died because his heart was too big, which makes complete sense if you had ever spent time with him."
This week, we also learned of the passing of another local fixture, Workhaus Collective. The critically-acclaimed group of playwrights that banded together to produce each other's work a decade ago, released a statement a few days ago saying that the group will voluntarily disband this year. You could say that the company is a victim of its own success, with the various members of Workhaus becoming more scattered as they are more in demand elsewhere; but I prefer their own assertion that the mission is done. Very few theater companies come to a satisfying end, and Workhaus gets to leave the stage on their own terms.
The ongoing space shuffle in the Twin Cities continues!
Last week, about ten seconds before I clicked on "send" to alert the editors here at Minnesota Playlist that I had dashed off another rambling diatribe disguised as news, I found out that Patrick's Cabaret, the long-running outsider performance venue in Minneapolis, is losing its home. The building they have occupied for the past 16 years, a decommissioned firehouse, is being sold by its owners to an undisclosed buyer, and, whatever their plans are, they don't include a GLBTQ cabaret. However, this isn't the end of Patrick's. They may have inhabited the firehouse for 16 years, but they've been around much longer (in fact, the company's 30th anniversary cabaret will be the last event in the old space). In an announcement and FAQ on their website, Executive Artistic Director Scott Artley says "At our core, the Cabaret is a concept and a community, not necessarily a place." That means that they could be anywhere. Anywhere. They could be in your house right now. Have you checked?
Last month on News and Notes, we talked about a trio of new spaces that are coming soon to a Twin City near you. First on the docket was Strike Theater, a new space in Northeast Minneapolis. Born of an alliance between a labor union, a storyteller and an improv duo, the space now has a ground plan and a new Kickstarter campaign. Backers can choose from a multitude of gifts, including "Mike's Sexy Eating", which promises "We will send you a digital video of Strike Theater co-founder Mike Fotis eating a food of your choice in the sexiest way possible".
In that same article last month, we also talked about North Garden Theater in St. Paul, an ongoing effort to revive an old movie house into a new performance space. According to a recent article in the Star Tribune, the project is well on its way, with a fresh $570,000 construction loan and promises of its own Kickstarter campaign to come. (Hopefully, also with a sexy eating option.)
Also, last week, I mentioned the new Minnsky's Theatre, which has taken up residence in Nimbus Theatre's old space. I said in that article that the exterior was now painted pink, and I must apologize. I drove by it again yesterday in the full light of day, and it is quite clearly red. My mistake.
Your involvement is requested
Here are some things for you to do with your time other than waiting for new things to show up on Netflix:
(1) Greg Reiner, the NEA's director of theater and musical theater will be in town next month, and you can hang out with him. The Southern Theater will be hosting a happy hour/town hall on April 18. So get good and liquored up and have your questions at the ready.
(3) The Guthrie, under its new leadership, seems like it might be giving more than lip service to the idea of actually engaging with its local community. In fact, they're currently looking to fill a position called Director of Community Engagement. Are you good at engaging a community directly? This may be a job for you!
(4) Or would you rather help the whole state of Minnesota? The State Arts Board is looking for a new Director of Communications and External Relations. Do you know how to have external relations? That sounds dirty.