Stay home tonight or set your DVR for the latest episode of “Lost Twin Cities,” TPT’s occasional series about the way we were. “Lost Twin Cities 4” premieres at 8 p.m. with stories about Northwest Airlines, the St. Paul public baths at Harriet Island (pollution ended those), the Oval Room at the downtown Dayton’s, black baseball, the Longfellow Gardens and Zoo at Minnehaha Park, and the Francis Little House in Deephaven, a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece demolished in 1972.
Series executive producer Brendan Henehan remembers seeing a living room from a Frank Lloyd Wright home in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1985. He was shocked to learn it had come from Minnesota. “I vowed then and there to tell that story if I ever had a chance,” he told TPT magazine. Incredibly – at least from today’s perspective, when bigger is always better – the Wright home was leveled to make way for a more modest house. Many consider this the greatest architectural loss in our region’s history.
After a miserable 15-month labor dispute that ended in January, which is not that long ago, the Minnesota Orchestra has roared back with a strong and imaginative 2014-15 season, a recently completed and highly successful challenge grant, newly forged and unprecedented relationships with audience and community members, a more open and accessible board, and an interim president and CEO everyone seems really excited about. Outgoing president and CEO Michael Henson officially steps down Aug. 31, but Kevin Smith, who served as president of the Minnesota Opera for 25 years, is already walking his own path.
Tomorrow night (Thursday, Aug., 14), Smith will appear at the first of two open-to-the-public listening sessions, where he’ll talk about his background, his perspectives on the orchestra, its finances, its musicians and staff, preliminary plans for the 2015–16 season, and the processes around hiring a permanent president/CEO. He’ll also take questions. 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Ridgedale Library. Can’t make this week’s session? The next is Wednesday, Aug. 27, at the Southdale Library, same time. Both are hosted by Save Our Symphony Minnesota (SOSMN).
On Saturday, Sept. 13, Sarah Hicks will conduct a Season Sampler concert of musical highlights and commentary about the 2014–15 season. We don’t yet know the details, but at $25 for all seats anywhere, it’s a way to dip your toe in, hear the orchestra, see the renovated Orchestra Hall, and get a sense of what the season will bring. If you buy a series package within a month of the concert, your $25 will be credited to that, which is kind of a sweet deal. FMI and tickets.
The award-winning Workhaus Collective has announced its eighth season of three world premieres, each produced using Workhaus’ unique model: The playwright acts as artistic director, and the other members of the collective (all playwrights) are the production staff. Sept. 12–27 at the Illusion Theater: “Lake Untersee” by Joe Waechter, about a troubled teenager who finds the love of his life beneath layers of ancient ice. February 2015 at the Playwrights Center: “Skin Deep Sea” by Stanton Wood. Steampunk meets fairy tales in a love story complete with puppets and swashbuckling fight scenes. April at the Playwrights Center: “The Reagan Years” by Dominic Orlando. A thriller that examines how cultural values “trickle down” to young adults.
Dark & Stormy, the small but talent-packed theater company whose “Speed-the-Plow” made everyone sit up and take notice in 2013, then followed that with terrific regional premieres of two plays by Adam Bock, will hit us with Harold Pinter in late 2014. “The Hothouse,” a tragicomedy set in a mental institution, will star Robert Dorfman, Mark Benninghofen, John Catron, Sara Marsh, Bill McCallum and Bruce Bohne. Ben McGovern will direct. Opens Dec. 12 in a venue TBA. Last season, D&S skipped around from an abandoned office to a casting studio to a party room in a St. Paul condo.
Penumbra Theatre has made a change to its 2014–15 season. “HappyFlowerNail,” a one-woman show by Radha Blank scheduled to begin Nov. 6 as part of Penumbra’s Claude Edison Purdy Festival, will be replaced by “The Peculiar Patriot,” a one-woman show by Liza Jessie Peterson.
What we’re reading: “OK to touch? Glensheen, home museums rethink rules to lure visitors.” MPR’s Dan Kraker tells how the historic Duluth mansion is courting crowds by loosening up. “Middle class rules deaden too many arts venues. Let’s fill them with life and noise.” Ideas for building audience from the UK.
Thursday at the Walker’s Open Field: Third Annual Internet Cat Video Festival. Ten thousand people showed up the first year, more last year when it was at the State Fair (a temporary move because of work being done at the Walker). It’s also back to being free. For fun, kind of silly, warm and fuzzy community events, this takes the prize. 6–10 p.m. The screening starts at dusk (about 8:45). FMI. If it rains, the whole kit-and-kaboodle moves ahead a week to Aug. 21.
Thursday on the Padelford Riverboat: River City Revue: Purity on the River. Hang out with artists, poets, scientists, musicians, historians, craft brewers and park rangers as you float down the Mississippi. What started in 2011 as a public art project by Works Progress Studio for Northern Spark has become a summer series of evenings about our great river. Arts writer Susannah Schouweiler calls them “gloriously nerdy,” which they are; tonight’s topic is “Purity on the River,” which means, for purposes of this event, everything from water purification to ecology, rockabilly and Bald Eagles. To “gloriously nerdy” we’d add “unbelievably cheap.” 7 p.m. FMI and tickets ($15). Coming up Aug. 22, a canoe trip from Hastings to Prescott. And on Sept. 10, another riverboat trip, this time on the topic of “Filth on the River.”
Friday through Sunday at Bedlam Lowertown: The Big Lowdown: Lowertown Playground. An immersive walking theater production created by eight Twin Cities performance groups over a six-square-block area of St. Paul’s Lowertown. Guided by eccentric Lowertown characters, you’ll begin at the new Bedlam Lowertown, make your way through the streets, buildings, parks and alleyways to eight different outdoor stages, and end at Mears Park. Departs each night at 7 p.m. Come early for Happy Hour from 4–7 p.m. FMI and tickets ($8 members, $12 nonmembers; no one turned away for lack of funds).
Saturday at Franconia Sculpture Park: Global Rhythm Festival. Live music in the big sculpture park in Shafer. With Diniya Drum and Dance, Greg Herriges and Michael Bissonnette, and the Pan Dimensions Steel Drums. Noon–6 p.m. Free. FMI.
Saturday in Shakopee: Ren Fest begins. It’s the 44th year of what is now the largest Renaissance festival in the United States, with an annual attendance of 300,000. Lords, ladies, knights jousting, Puke and Snot, music, food, hay bales, a marketplace, mermaids, themed weekends – you can even get married there, if you want. Opening weekend is a Highland Fling, with Scottish vendors, a kilt competition, and the World Amateur Highland Games Championships. Weekends through Sept. 28. 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. FMI and tickets ($19.95 adult single day; passes available).
A three-day pottery blow-out, with workshops, demonstrations, lectures, panels, studio visits, social gatherings, and an amazing exhibition and sale, the 16th annual American Pottery Festival at Northern Clay Center will draw collectors, artists and students from all over. If you love clay, if you’re curious, if you want to do your holiday shopping early, this is a big one. Sept. 11–14. FMI and tickets (opening night $25, Saturday/Sunday admission $5, workshops and special events vary).