Theatre in the Round to have a smashing new look; Jewish Film Festival coming up

Courtesy of Theatre in the Round
Created by artist John Pugh, the globe mural will face the new light-rail station, the theater’s parking lot and the West Bank.

We’re used to actors breaking the fourth wall. But what is it called when a building-size trompe-l’oeil mural shows a giant crystal globe – a theater in the round – smashing through a brick wall? A wonderful illusion, and a joyous we’re-staying-put statement from Theatre in the Round Players.

The oldest theater in Minneapolis, TRP moved into its current location at Seven Corners in 1968. It recently completed a series of major repairs to the century-old building. The mural – actually three murals – marks the second phase of a $400,000 project being paid for by private contributions, funds set aside for more than 10 years and a Kickstarter.

Created by California-based artist John Pugh, the globe mural will face the new light-rail station, the theater’s parking lot and the West Bank. Pugh has also designed murals for the front street-facing wall and the north wall, which faces Seven Corners’ outdoor patios and bars. The street will see an homage to TRP’s blueprint mural, which has decorated the building’s façade since 1985. The north wall will be a fool-the-eye glimpse into the stage area.

Pugh will arrive sometime this spring to begin installation of the murals, which are expected to be completed by fall.

TRP board chair Stephanie Long said in a statement, “We’ve always felt that murals in the trompe l’oeil style – creating an illusion with art – would perfectly capture what we do as a theater.” She expects that Pugh’s creations “will be some of the most spectacular pieces of public art in the country.” Pugh commented, “You can’t miss this thing from a distance. But it also has the power within to bring TRP to the outside world.”

Talk of the Stacks line-up announced

From April 12 through Nov. 2, five authors will come to the Friends of the Hennepin County Library’s Talk of the Stacks series. Two won’t have to travel far: They write for the Star Tribune.

Did you know that Andrew McCarthy – actor (“Pretty in Pink,” “St. Elmo’s Fire”), director (“Orange Is the New Black,” “The Blacklist,” “Grace and Frankie”), and award-winning travel writer – is also a novelist? Neither did we. He’ll be here Wednesday, April 12, with his debut coming-of-age novel “Just Fly Away.”

On Tuesday, June 13, fiction writer Lisa Ko will present her debut novel, “The Leavers,” a tale of immigration, borders and belonging. It won the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Star Tribune editorial cartoonist Steve Sack will launch his new, as yet untitled book on Thursday, Aug. 17.

New York Times best-selling author Larry Olmstead will discuss his book “Real Food/Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do About It” on Thursday, Oct. 5. Yes, you really want to hear this.

On Thursday, Nov. 2, Star Tribune music reporter Chris Riemenschneider will talk about his new book, due out Oct. 15 from the Minnesota Historical Society Press: “First Avenue: Minnesota’s Mainroom.” He’ll be joined by Daniel Corrigan and Danny Sigelman, co-creators of “Heyday: 35 Years of Music in Minneapolis,” published by the Press last November.

All Talk of the Stacks events are held in Pohlad Hall at the Minneapolis downtown library. All are free, and seating is first come, first served. Doors at 6:15 p.m., programs at 7. Book sales and signings follow the presentations.

The picks

Tonight (Thursday, March 16) through Saturday at the Walker: Charles Atlas/Rashaun Mitchell/Silas Riener: “Tesseract.” As part of its massive “Merce Cunningham: Common Time” interdisciplinary exhibition, the Walker co-commissioned a new work from three Cunningham compatriots. Mitchell and Riener were dancers in the final iteration of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company; visual/media artist Atlas was a longtime Cunningham collaborator. “Tesseract” is a dance/technology hybrid featuring seven dancers and 3D video that weaves together dance, sci-fi narratives and live film segments edited in real time by Atlas. Here’s a clip from a performance earlier this year. 8 p.m. all nights. FMI and tickets ($28/22.40 members).

Courtesy of the artists

Opens in previews tomorrow (Friday, March 17) at the Park Square: “Macbeth.” This world premiere adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy was created especially for Park Square’s large student audience (more than 33,000 in 2016), many of whom will be first-timers to the Bard. But who wouldn’t want to see a shorter, tighter “Macbeth”? Adapted and directed by Jef Hall-Flavin, this “Macbeth” runs just 110 min. including a 20-min. intermission. Nine actors take on 26 roles, led by Michael Ooms (son of Richard Ooms and Claudia Wilkens) as the Thane of Cawdor and Vanessa Wasche as Lady Macbeth. Turns out Shakespeare’s 400-year-old play has a lot to say about ambition, greed, power grabs and “leadership derailed by self-image, equivocation and seeing things that aren’t really there.” Previews March 17-23; opening night Friday, March 24; public performances through April 9. On the Boss stage. FMI and tickets (previews $27/37, regular run $40/60). Student matinees continue into May. If you want to attend one of those, tickets are $25, subject to availability. 93 min., no intermission. Call 651-291-7005 for times.

Starts Saturday: Twin Cities Jewish Film Festival. The 24th year of the festival designed to make us laugh and cry, with films not offered elsewhere in the Cities. This year includes the advance screening of “The Zookeeper’s Wife” on opening night; three Midwest premieres on Sunday, including Israel’s #1 film of the year, “The Women’s Balcony”; the world premiere of “Escape from Room 18,” a documentary on American anti-Semitism; and “Bang! The Bert Berns Story,” a biographical documentary narrated by Steven Van Zandt. FMI including schedule, locations and tickets ($10 advance, $14 same day, $45 all-pass). Ends March 25.

Saturday and Sunday at North Community High School: Northside Celebration. The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra has its own bespoke concert hall at the Ordway, yet it insists on playing concerts at neighborhood venues all over the Cities. Why? Because bringing the music to where we are is part of its mission. Since 2013, the SPCO has played free chamber music concerts at the Capri Theater on West Broadway. This weekend, it’s joining with the Capri to present a pair of concerts celebrating the North Minneapolis community. The 90-minute events will feature performances by a Northside Celebration Choir, with singers drawn from area churches and organizations, directed by Sanford Moore and VocalEssence’s G. Phillip Schoultz III. The music will include the world premiere of “True North,” composed by longtime North Minneapolis resident (and former Cantus member) Timothy Takach, with lyrics by spoken word/hip-hop artist Desdamona inspired by student writings. 4 p.m. FMI and reservations. Tickets are free, but reservations are required; click Free Tickets. Enter the school at door 18 on Irving.

Photo by Michael Slobodian
Kidd Pivot/Electric Company Theatre: “Betroffenheit.”

Tuesday and Wednesday (March 21-22) at Northrop: Kidd Pivot/Electric Company Theatre: “Betroffenheit.” The German word “Betroffenheit” translates loosely to “there are no words,” a state of shock and trauma so all-encompassing that verbal language can’t express it. In 2009, playwright Jonathon Young experienced a massively traumatizing loss in his own life – the tragic death of his daughter – that led to overwhelming grief, guilt and eventually addiction. Young has collaborated with acclaimed choreographer Crystal Pite and her dance company, Kidd Pivot, to create an evening-length work where dance and theater collaborate to tell a story of suffering and recovery. “Betroffenheit” has earned rave reviews (here, for example, and here) but the one that stopped us short was a comment on a YouTube clip: “This show brought me to my knees and changed my life.” Adult themes; recommended for ages 16 and up. Free performance previews both nights at 6:15 p.m. in the Best Buy Theater. Post-show panel discussions both nights: Tuesday’s moderated by Kate Moos of American Public Media, focusing on resiliency and well-being in the face of addiction and trauma; Wednesday’s moderated by Andy Steiner, MinnPost’s mental health and addiction writer, focusing on the U of M’s work to end addiction. Performances at 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($30/40/50). 

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