Minneapolis Travel Blog

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Just about everyone who comes here, if they have any inclination toward theater-going, has their sights set on the Guthrie and the historical downtown Theatre District, with the State Theatre and the Orpheum, or towards St Paul's Orpheum.  With more theaters per capita than anywhere else in the United States, I think this is a big mistake.  While these internationally renowned venues do have big budgets and access to talent from New York, Chicago, and London (still frequently discussed within the local theatre community is the Old Guthrie production of Virginia Woolf featuring Patrick Stewart and Mercedes Ruehl), Minneapolis also has a huge local population of talented performers in smaller venues.

In the past three days, I've seen as many outstanding shows in different genres.  Sunday night was the kickoff of the third season of Rockstar Storytellers at Bryant Lake Bowl (locally known as BLB).  The theme was literary genres, so each storyteller was stretched to explore a genre outside of their usual comfort zones, to brilliant effect.  This season brings with it the launching of a Rockstar podcast, so even from afar, please check these folks out!

Monday night brought a single night of Margolis Method improv at the Illusion Theatre downtown.  This show is what drew me back to Minneapolis for a week of reunions and realizations.  Kari Margolis and Tony Brown were a local creative team who created their own method of theatrical research and their own company of actors dedicated to the exploration of space, timing, and bodily specificity and flexibility.  While I was studying performance at the U of M, Kari was an instructor who completely transformed my concept of performance, my relationship to my body, my excitement to engage in a more meaningful way with the world around me.  At about the time I graduated, Kari and Tony relocated to upstate New York to establish a training facility there.  Some of my friends are still engaged in work with the company, and I'm struck by the deep and abiding loyalty that develops in performers who have invested in grueling hours of physical and emotional training, and the safety those performers feel even as they're taking great risks, because of the strength of the ensemble body.  Last night was a glowing demonstration of exploration techniques leading to shining moments of discovery through intentional play.  As Kari proclaims, "specificity elicits creativity," and through exploration of beats, of space, of objects, of directionality, of gesture, of body, sparks of insight and originality become fully fleshed productions of an investment in the moment.  The Margolis company will also be entering the wonderful world of the podcast soon-ish, and I'm pretty thrilled about this!

Tonight was the beginning of the fall season of Two Chairs Telling at the Open Eye Theatre (which incidentally was co-founded by another former teacher of mine, Michael Sommers, a brilliant local puppeteer).  Tonight's performers were Tim Herwig, reading excerpts from a book-in-progress about the inner journey along his physical walking trek from Chicago to Minneapolis in August/September 2004, and Simone Perrin, gloriously and adorably singing throaty renditions of Folsom Prison (there has never been a more adorable cold-blooded murderer); These Boots Were Made for Walking; Non, je ne regrette rien; and many others that I didn't recognize but fully enjoyed.  Her self-accompaniment on the accordion was quirky, tremendously expressive, and surprisingly moving.  I'm really disappointed that she's not yet on iTunes, because she would otherwise have been added into frequent rotation.
ecnb says:
Yes! Rockstar Storytellers is amazing! I've been to a few of their shows, and have always been pleasantly and frequently surprised. I'm particularly partial to Allegra Lingo, Joseph Scrimshaw, and Dave Mondy, but all of the writers are fully-invested risk-takers, and I deeply respect them all.

BLB has a lot of other shows that feature regularly, as well, and ones that are short runs. My ultimate favorite BLB pastime has to be Ka-Baam! It was a series of improv nights where the performers would create origin stories for audience-suggested superheroes during the first half of the show (ex: The Flaming Flamingo, Captain Bubble Tea, and Fargo Woman sprang to life in the last one I made it to), while a graphic novelist illustrated a cover for the episode, which would then be the launching point for the interplay of the heroes and their nemesis during the second half. I don't think I've ever been in more awe of actors thinking on their feet. Hilarious.
Posted on: Sep 16, 2009
Lord_Mike says:
You made it to Rockstar Storytellers? I am told that is an amazing rendition!
Posted on: Sep 16, 2009
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