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Serrand & Epp's MovingCompany to produce two new plays this spring

Steve Epp, Nathan Keepers and Christina Baldwin starred in the MovingCompany's "
Photo by Aaron Fenster
Steve Epp, Nathan Keepers and Christina Baldwin starred in the MovingCompany's "Come Hell & High Water" in the spring of 2011.

The MovingCompany, the theater company co-founded by former Jeune Luners Dominique Serrand and Steve Epp (the latter the best Hamlet I’ve ever seen) has announced two new shows for the spring.

“Werther and Lotte, The Passion and the Sorrow” is “a theatrical meditation featuring music from folk songs to art songs,” starring Christina Baldwin and Nathan Keepers. What – another “Werther”? If you’re already seeing the Minnesota Opera’s "Werther," no worries. The MovingCompany’s version is “a collaborative creation inspired by Goethe’s ‘Werther’ and Thomas Mann’s ‘Lotte in Weimar.’ ” It opens March 23 at the Lab Theater; tickets are available after Feb. 15. Starting May 10 at the Southern, “The War Within/All’s Fair.” Tickets available after Feb. 15. Learn more about The MovingCompany in episode #247 of TPT’s “Minnesota Original.”

Star power at the Parkway. Today is the 53rd anniversary of the day the music died. At 1 in the morning, the plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper crashed in an Iowa cornfield en route to a performance in Moorhead. The Parkway Theater (aka Pepito’s Parkway) is paying tribute with a showing of the Oscar-winning 1978 film “The Buddy Holly Story” and a special appearance by its Oscar-nominated star, Gary Busey. The actor will share stories about Holly and his role in the movie and join the house band for a few of his favorite Holly tunes. Doors at 6:15. Tickets here or by phone (612-822-3030).

According to an annual survey by Central Connecticut State University, Minneapolis has just been named America’s third most literate city after Washington and Seattle. (Lasties El Paso and Corpus Christie, Texas, and Bakersfield, Calif., have some ’splaining to do.)

Coming up: four opportunities to show our love of letters:

At noon on Sunday, Feb. 5, Minnesota’s Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen will read in the chapel of Plymouth Church as part of its Literary Witnesses series. Sutphen, who grew up on a farm in Stearns County, writes reverently about rural life, and she knows how to craft a sonnet. Garrison Keillor has often featured her poems on “The Writer’s Almanac.” Read an interview with Sutphen here.

 From “The Farm” by Joyce Sutphen:

My father’s farm is an icicle,
a hillside of white powder.
He parts the snowy sea,
and smooths away the valleys.
He cultivates his rows of starlight
and drags the crescent moon
through dark unfurrowed fields.

At 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8, the poet Elizabeth Alexander  will read at Cowles Auditorium in the U of M’s Humphrey Center as part of the NOMMO African American Author Series. Best known for writing and delivering President Barack Obama’s inaugural poem, “Praise Song for the Day,” Alexander has published five books of poems and two collections of essays. Tickets $15.

From “Praise Song for the Day” by Elizabeth Alexander:

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need
. What if the mightiest word is love?

ArtStart in St. Paul will host a free reading featuring two Minnesota poets, Athena Kildegaard and Cary Waterman, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9.  Margaret Hasse will emcee.

And MinnPost’s third annual Book Club Blast will happen Sunday, Feb. 12. Register now for an afternoon of conversation, information, and schmoozing with fellow book lovers. Award-winning author Kate DiCamillo  (Because of Winn-Dixie,” “The Tale of Despereaux”) is the featured guest. Breakout sessions cover how to start and run a successful book club, promoting oneself online as a writer, whether writers need publishers, and more. $5 for MinnPost member-donors, $10 for others. 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Open Book.

A plug for Minnesota Original,” if you haven’t yet caught this splendid series funded by our legacy amendment: The next time NASA casts a message into the cosmos, it should include a few episodes of MnO, each a snapshot of our state’s creative community. Every time I watch one, I discover something new and fascinating. A guy named Christopher Poor makes medieval and Renaissance arms and armor in the old-fashioned way, by hand. Who knew?

To date, MnO has profiled two potters, Warren MacKenzie and Maren Kloppman. If you’ve wanted to try your hand at clay, Northern Clay Center’s next round of classes starts Feb. 7. Not ready for a class? How about a chili bowl? At the 4th Annual Chili Cook-Off, you can make your own chili bowl at a free workshop, attend a free demonstration, compete in the cook-off, and eat chili (cornbread and liquid refreshments provided). $5 to eat, free to compete.

MPR has announced its spring 2012 season at the Fitzgerald Theater. Mary Ann Grossman sums it up for the Pi Press in a piece nicely titled Music and Wits set for the Fitz.”

The Line has more on the Uptown Theater renovation. A full bar! Luxury seats! I’ll be happy with seats that don’t try to kill me.

The Robert Glasper Experiment performance at the Fine Line on March 9 has been canceled. I’m trying to find out why, and if it will be rescheduled, but no luck so far.

The indie rock/Americana group The Pines released its latest album, “Dark So Gold,” on Tuesday with an in-store performance at the Electric Fetus. Ellen Stanley from Red House Records says it was “awesome. You could hear a pin drop when they were playing, which is unusual for an in-store. Everyone was mesmerized. Young people, older folks, people with kids.” The new video is dreamy. The main record release show happens at the Cedar on Feb. 17. Tickets here.

Bon Iver will be the musical guests on Saturday Night Live this Saturday. It may be worth sitting through the commercials, but seriously, TiVo was made for SNL. Bon Iver is up for four, count them (One! Two! Three! Four!) Grammys including song of the year and record of the year for “Holocene.” But the group is not scheduled to appear on the Grammys show, at least according to my very reliable source.

Attention, arts advocates: Your precinct caucus on Tuesday, Feb. 7 is a chance to speak out against using legacy money to fund a Vikings stadium. Just showing up gives you the right to introduce a resolution on any topic you want. Here’s language for a resolution opposing the use of legacy funding for a stadium; you can download it and bring it with you, if you want. Find the location of your precinct caucus here.

Arts Advocacy Day 2012 is Wednesday, Feb. 29 – Leap Day. Organized by Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, it starts at 8 a.m. at the Minnesota History Center, then moves to the state Capitol for meetings with legislators. Sign up here.

I hope you all read Jim Walsh’s piece Monday about the “Ellison for Arts” fundraiser at the Weinstein. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minneapolis, is not someone who needs his ear bent on Arts Advocacy Day. Sounds like Rep. Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, is.

Heads up, artists: March 5 is the deadline for 2012 Next Step Fund applications. With support from the McKnight Foundation, the Next Step Fund provides project grants up to $5,000 to professional artists in any discipline for the purpose of career development and artistic achievement. Read the guidelines here. MRAC (the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council) offers free workshops to help you prepare. The workshop dates are Saturday, Feb. 4 (10 a.m. to 12 p.m.) at the Bloomington Center for the Arts, Tuesday, Feb. 7 (3 p.m. to 5 p.m.) at the Ritz Theatre, Wednesday, Feb. 8 (1 p.m. to 3 p.m.) at the Penumbra, and Tuesday, Feb. 21 (2 p.m. to 4 p.m.) at Intermedia Arts. Click on a training date to register.

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