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Two new hires at the Guthrie; Oscar-nominated shorts at the Uptown

ALSO: Ashwini Ramaswamy: “Let the Crows Come” artist talk at the Parkway; Daniel Roth organ recital at Plymouth Congregational; and more.

The Guthrie has hired a new managing director and a director of development, filling two key positions left empty since mid-2018, when Jennifer Bielstein and Danielle St. Germain-Gordon resigned for positions elsewhere.

James Haskins, Mollie Alexander Hogan
James Haskins, Mollie Alexander Hogan
James Haskins, managing director, comes to the Guthrie after 12 years as managing director of the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia. His prior experience includes Seattle Group Theatre, Philadelphia’s InterAct Theatre Company and the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, where he was executive director. Haskins acted in many productions before turning to theater administration, directing and dramaturgy.

Mollie Alexander Hogan, director of development, is in her 10th year in that role at Kansas City Repertory Theatre. During her tenure, individual giving rose by nearly 300 percent, the theater launched a $5.6 million campaign to renovate its building, and it raised almost $5 million to grow audiences, new works and education. Her prior experience includes Chicago’s About Face Theatre and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Plus she’s a Gold Award-winning Girl Scout.

Haskins will join the staff on March 25, Alexander Hogan on March 19.

Oscar-nominated shorts to open at the Uptown

“Bao” is one of four animated shorts in the running for this year’s Oscar.
“Bao” is one of four animated shorts in the running for this year’s Oscar.
If you saw “Incredibles 2” last summer, you also saw a new Pixar short, “Bao,” in which a steamed bun turns into a child made of dough and breaks his mother’s heart. This eight-minute film has gotten a lot of attention for being 1) the first Pixar short directed by a woman, 2) culturally specific (director Domee Shi is the Toronto-born child of Chinese immigrants), 3) the only Oscar nominee with Asian characters and 4) widely and totally misunderstood by non-Asian audiences. As a writer for Polygon noted:

When people don’t get a cameo at the end of a Marvel movie, they Google it for better understanding (trust us on that one). Yet more often than one might expect, when people are confronted with a particular cultural experience that they don’t get, the confusion rarely seems to turn into curiosity. Instead, it becomes a source of bewildered judgment. Vocal, bewildered judgment.

“Bao” is one of five animated shorts in the running for this year’s Oscar. The other four are:

“One Small Step” from Andrew Chesworth and Bobby Pontillas of Taiko Studios, a new Chinese-American company of Disney alums. This sweet, tender film tells of a Chinese-American girl who dreams of becoming an astronaut, and her close, loving relationship with her shoemaker father.

“Animal Behaviour” from Alison Snowdon and David Fine. Seeing National Film Board of Canada in the opening credits is a guarantee of goodness (at least, in our experience). Here a leech named Lorraine, a little bird, a cat, a praying mantis and a pig are all in group therapy with a pit bull counselor. When an ape with anger issues joins the group, chaos ensues. It’s LOL funny.

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“Late Afternoon” from Louise Bagnall. In this beautiful short from Ireland, an old woman falls into memories of her childhood, her life as a young bride and mother and her joy at being by the sea. Swirls and splashes of color, sudden transformations and transitions give it a dreamy feel tinged with sadness.

“Weekends” from Trevor Jimenez. This is the strangest and maybe the saddest of the bunch. In 1980s Toronto, a young boy’s parents are recently divorced, and he spends weekends with his father. While Mom lives quietly in the country, studying accounting to better their lives, Dad lives a devil-may-care life in the city. Things go reasonably well until Mom gets a new boyfriend and Dad gets a new girlfriend. All children of divorce experience the jarring juxtaposition of worlds; here, things float away and can burst into flame.

The Uptown will screen the Oscar-nominated short films – animated and live action – starting Friday. FMI including times, tickets and trailers.

The picks

"Night Embers" by Carlos Pacheco, archival pigment on photo rag, 2016
Courtesy of SooVAC
"Night Embers" by Carlos Pacheco, archival pigment on photo rag, 2016
Tonight (Friday, Feb. 8) at SooVAC: Opening reception for Untitled 15. The 15th year of SooVAC’s reliably interesting juried exhibition features work by 15 artists selected from among 179 submissions to a national open call. The show was juried by Mia Lopez, assistant curator at the DePaul Art Museum and a former curatorial fellow for visual arts at the Walker. 6-9 p.m. Closes March 15.

Tonight through Sunday: Zeitgeist: Playing It Close to Home. The new music ensemble presents its annual concert of music made here, by local composers. The program includes the winning songs from Zeitgeist’s Eric Stokes Song Contest and music by Ethiopian-born Minneapolis bassist Yohannes Tona. Concerts Friday and Saturday will be at Studio Z. 7:30 p.m., $15/10. Sunday’s will be at Ras Ethiopian Restaurant in St. Paul, preceded by a buffet meal. 6 p.m., $20. FMI and tickets.

Sunday at Plymouth Church: Organ Recital: Daniel Roth. The head organist at St. Sulpice in Paris comes to Minneapolis in honor of Philip Brunelle’s 50th year as organist and choirmaster at Plymouth. Roth is known for “the wild character of his improvisations.” 4 p.m. Free.

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Monday at the Parkway: Ashwini Ramaswamy: “Let the Crows Come” artist talk. Ramaswamy, of Ragamala Dance, is creating a new work for the SPCO’s Liquid Music that will premiere in November. Get a behind-the-scenes look at what to expect when she talks about the creative process with collaborators Brent Arnold (composer/cellist), Alanna Morris-Van Tassel (dancer/choreographer) and Berit Ahlgren (dancer/choreographer), with TU Dance’s Toni Pierce-Sands as moderator. 7:30 p.m. FMI. Pay-as-you-wish.

Tuesday at the Westminster Town Hall Forum: Art Cullen: Change and Resistance in the Heartland. Cullen is the Pulitzer Prize-winning editor and co-owner of something that sounds impossible today: a flourishing, family-owned, twice-weekly newspaper in northwest Iowa, founded in 1990. His book, “Storm Lake,” chronicles his 40-year career in journalism and big changes in his rural community: politics, agriculture, climate, immigration. 12 noon at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Come before for music (11:30 a.m.), stay after for a public reception. FMI. Free.

Opens Tuesday at the Pantages: Potted Potter. All seven “Harry Potter” books in 70 minutes? Like Charles Ross’ “One Man Star Wars Trilogy” (which came through the Ordway in 2017) and the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s 90-minute complete works of you-know-who, there’s something inherently hilarious about squeezing a magnum opus into a small space. The full title of this event is “Potted Potter – The Unauthorized Harry Experience – A Parody by Dan and Jeff.” Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner are two Olivier Award-nominated actors and BBC TV presenters who can speak really fast and make lighting-quick costume changes while telling the story and tossing in jokes. You’ll be asked to play Quidditch. Ages 6 and up. 7:30 p.m. Through March 10. FMI, times and tickets ($39-99). Buy online or in person at the State Theatre box office (save on fees).

On sale

Hannah Gadsby’s “Douglas” at the Pantages, June 13 and 14. On sale today (Friday, Feb. 8) at 10 a.m.

Cecile McLorin Salvant at the Dakota, June 19. On sale now.