Playwrights’ Center names 2018-19 McKnight winners; Independent Bookstore Day events

Courtesy of the Playwrights’ Center
McKnight winners May Lee-Yang, Idris Goodwin and Tori Sampson.

Award-winning playwright Idris Goodwin will write a new play about an interconnected family of black creatives. May Lee-Yang and Tori Sampson will have the luxury of time to work on new projects. Announced earlier this week by the Playwrights’ Center, Goodwin is the recipient of the 2018-19 McKnight National Residency and Commission, and Lee-Yang and Sampson are new McKnight Fellows in Playwriting.

Goodwin was a Playwrights’ Center Core Writer from 2013-16. He has long been at the forefront of hip-hop theater. He’ll write his new play, “Scarfoot Lives,” with help from a $15,000 commission, $5,750 in workshop funds, and travel and housing stipends. Lee-Yang and Sampson will each receive a $25,000 stipend, $2,500 to support play development and other professional expenses, and $1,400 in travel funds. Lee-Yang’s play “The Korean Drama Addict’s Guide to Losing Your Virginity” will premiere July 27 at Theater Mu.

Soap Factory delays grand reopening

Plans have changed for the grand reopening of the Soap Factory and its first program since renovations began last October with a symbolic groundbreaking. The building has been closed since December for the $6.2 million redo. “Art(ists) on the Verge 9,” with new work from five Minnesota-based artists, was set to open with a reception on May 5. That has now been pushed to fall. 

A release from the Soap earlier this month said: “Oooops! … We were so excited to reopen our doors, we got a little ahead of ourselves. The Soap Factory renovation is a big, complex project involving a 130-year-old building with 52,000 square feet of space … So maybe we were a bit overly optimistic.”

The Soap’s Executive Director Bill Mague told the Star Tribune that there were tax-credit complications with several financial partners. “We are finding the right investor for the right set of tax credits,” he said. “We had to go back through those again.” The reopening is now planned for the end of October, the Soap’s 30th anniversary. 

Pipe organ news

Let’s just call 2018 the Year of the Pipe Organ. Northrop’s historic Aeolian-Skinner has been restored, re-installed and will be heard in October (with the Minnesota Orchestra) and December (first solo recital). An exhibit in Northrop’s fourth-floor gallery explores the organ’s history, design and significance. 

In new news, Christ Church Lutheran, a National Historic Landmark designed by Eliel Saarinen in 1949, will debut its new pipe organ in a recital on Sunday, May 20 at 2 p.m. The organ was custom-built for Christ Church Lutheran by Dobson Pipe Organ Builders in Lake City, Iowa. FMI.

Dobson has been tapped to make much-needed repairs on the James J. Hill House’s historic pipe organ. Built in 1891 for the art gallery in the Hill family’s Summit Avenue home, a National Historic Landmark and a Minnesota Historical Society location, the organ was in bad shape. Many of its original wood and leather parts had deteriorated, causing air leakage and sound-quality issues. To prevent further damage, it has been largely unplayed in recent years. Dobson will take it apart, ship the pieces to Lake City, make the repairs, design and construct new, historically accurate parts, and reassemble it on site later this year. Current estimates call for completion by July, but no promises. Project costs for the Hill House organ, estimated at $141,000, will be covered by donations from Martin V. Chorzempa and Dr. George and Joan Fischer.

James J. Hill House’s historic pipe organ
Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society
James J. Hill House’s historic pipe organ will be shipped to Lake City for much-needed repairs.

Like choirs and choruses, organs are a big deal in Minnesota. If you’re so inclined, you can attend an organ concert (sometimes two) several times a month. The “Pipedreams” radio program, produced here by American Public Media, keeps a Pipedreams Regional Organ Events Calendar of upcoming events in and around Minnesota. Go crazy.

The picks

Tonight (Friday, April 27) through Saturday, May 5: “Fragments” with Patricia Kopatchinskaja. The SPCO’s barefoot artistic partner takes classical works apart, then stitches them together with music by contemporary composers. She did that in 2015 with Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden,” and the SPCO won its second Grammy for the recording. The “Fragments” program includes her arrangement of Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 interspersed with selections from György Kurtág. Kopatchinskaja and the SPCO will perform it at several locations. FMI and tickets.

Patricia Kopatchinskaja
Photo by Marco Borggreve
The “Fragments” program includes Patricia Kopatchinskaja’s arrangement of Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 interspersed with selections from György Kurtág.

Saturday all over: Fourth Annual Independent Bookstore DayMore than 480 indie bookstores across the country will take part, and no two will be alike. There will be authors, readings, prizes, activities, music, discounts, exclusive Bookstore Day books and items, and more fun stuff. Here in the Twin Cities, the thing to do is pick up a copy of the 2018 Twin Cities Independent Bookstore Passport, produced by Rain Taxi’s Twin Cities Literary Calendar. Then visit as many participating stores as you can, get that passport stamped and maybe win a gift card, a literary prize pack, even the Grand Prize Pack (which is fantastic btw). 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Here’s everything you need to know. Hey Rain Taxi, thanks for all you do.

Saturday at Church of Saint Louis, King of France: 150 Years of Faith Concert. A celebration of the 150th year of the founding of “the little French church” in St. Paul and the 20th anniversary of the installation of its pipe organ, built in Quebec and famous for its ornate case. 4 p.m. FMI. Free.

Saturday at Kolman & Pryor Gallery: Opening reception for “Barriers: Photographs by Christopher Atkins.” Following his 2016 solo show “Wired,” which explored barriers that kept him from going to sleep and staying asleep, Atkins looks at external barriers that limit access – rocks in a path, a chain across a driveway, signs excluding bicycles or pedestrians – and their physical and psychological repercussions. Atkins is the curator of exhibitions and public programs at the Minnesota Museum of American Art; previously he was coordinator of the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program (MAEP) at Mia. The gallery is in the Northrup King Building. Reception 7-9 p.m. Free. Exhibition closes May 12.

Sunday through Thursday at the Film Society’s St. Anthony Main Theatre: MSPIFF Best of Fest. If you missed it, couldn’t get in, weren’t sure what to see or want to see something again, this is for you: five days of encores including films that sold out during MSPIFF, award winners, audience favorites, must-see local productions and titles postponed because of the blizzard (remember the blizzard)? FMI including times, tickets and trailers

Tuesday at Norway House: Carl Frode Tiller and Peter Geye in conversation. Graywolf recently released the second novel in an ambitious trilogy by Norwegian author Tiller. “Encircling” (2017) introduced us to David, a man who has lost his memory. Three very different friends write letters about his childhood, but each is very different. “Encircling 2: Origins” calls into question everything we know about David thus far. Peter Geye is the author of “Wintering.” Tiller should feel right at home at Norway House. 7 p.m. Free.

Tuesday at Northrop: Alonzo King LINES Ballet. In Northrop’s season finale, the San Francisco-based contemporary dance company blends science and art, the human voice and nature sounds. For “The Propelled Heart,” 12 dancers perform to a recording by Grammy winning singer Lisa Fischer (“20 Feet from Stardom”) accompanied by French musician Jean-Christophe Maillard. Created with natural soundscape artist Bernie Krause and composer Richard Blackford, “Biophony” features sounds of the earth and its creatures, recorded by Krause in Borneo and Kenya, Alaska and the Sierra Nevada mountains. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets (adults $42-62; other prices and discounts available); 612-624-2345. Free performance preview in the Best Buy Theater at 6:15 p.m. 

Monday at Magers & Quinn: Weike Wang presents “Chemistry.” Wang’s debut novel – a coming-of-age story about a young female scientist – was NPR’s Best Book of 2017, a Washington Post Notable Work of Fiction in 2017 and one of PBS NewsHour’s 5 Books from 2017. The National Book Foundation named Wang a “5 Under 35” honoree. Joanne R. Demkiewicz of the Riveter will moderate. 7 p.m. Free.

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