Spring brings new plays and performances; ‘GOT’ series finale on a big screen

Barbara Rose-Brown, Carlyle Brown
Courtesy of the Illusion Theater
Carlyle Brown, right, wrote “A Play by Barb & Carlyle” with his wife and dramaturge Barbara Rose-Brown, left, who had a stroke in March 2017 that left her unable to speak. It’s a love story.

Who worked on new plays and performance pieces over our long, miserable winter? Lots of people, and now we get to see what they came up with.

Illusion Theater’s annual Fresh Ink Series of brand new plays includes familiar and well-loved names. Jeffrey Hatcher’s “Netherlands” (June 13-16) will star Sandra Struthers in the tale of two sisters – one in the States, one in the Netherlands, one alive, the other maybe not. Carlyle Brown wrote “A Play by Barb & Carlyle” (June 20-23) with his wife and dramaturge Barbara Rose-Brown, who had a stroke in March 2017 that left her unable to speak. It’s a love story. (An update from Illusion’s Michael Robins: “Barbara is in the process of recovery and still suffers from aphasia.”)

Closing the series, actor and writer Beth Gilleland’s “Before You Were Alive” (June 27-30) tells her personal story of mothering a little boy who lost his mother. Suddenly, a single artist had a family. She’ll perform; Robins will direct; Chicago saxophonist DB Carlson will play. FMI and tickets (each $10).

Starting two weeks before Fresh Ink, Red Eye Theater’s annual New Works 4 Weeks Festival will take place in the Tek Box at the Cowles Center, since its former home has been replaced by an apartment building. And the theater now has seven (!) new artistic directors. Week 1 (May 30-June 2) will feature five collaborative works-in-progress by choreographers, actors, musicians, playwrights, visual artists and theater makers including Julia Gavin Bither and Claire King, Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra (aka Lady Xøk) and Xilam Balam, Megan Burns and Ricardo Beaird, Casey Llewellyn and Morgan Thorson, and Annika Hansen, Nakita Kirchner, Anusha Ramaswami, Nicole Stumpf and Abigail Whitmore.

Week 2 (June 6-8) will be a split evening: Arneshia Williams’  multimedia dance work “relish” and Anna Johnson’s live visual album “Matryoshka,” with members of Mila Vocal Ensemble. For Week 3 (June 13-15), Theo Langason (Sandbox Theatre, Blackout Improv) will perform “Welcome Home,” an evening-length work of music, poetry and improvisation exploring the meaning and sensation of home. Week 4 will present two new dance works: Valerie Oliveiro’s “The Standard” with Non Edwards, Sam Johnson, Thorson, Rosy Simas and Arwen Wilder, and Pedro Pablo Lander’s “Holy Doña,” a high-contrast spectacle.

Arneshia Williams
Photo by Val Oliveiro
Week 2 will feature Arneshia Williams’ multimedia dance work “relish,” above, and Anna Johnson’s live visual album “Matryoshka,” with members of Mila Vocal Ensemble.
When we heard last year that Red Eye’s co-founders Steve Busa and Miriam Must would step down and the theater would lose its storefront home, we were worried. Please, no more arts organization death knells. But look: new location (if temporary), new leadership, 10 new and original performance pieces. New life. FMI and tickets ($15 general admission, $10 students with valid ID; pay what you wish for all Thursday performances).

Call for musicians and composers

The Cedar is looking for its next group of early career/emerging Minnesota composers and musicians for the 2019-20 Cedar Commissions. Since this Jerome Foundation-supported program began (as the 416 Club Commissions), more than 50 local artists have created new works and performed them on the Cedar’s stage.

Artists chosen for the program receive $3,500, with access to another $1,000 to be used for additional technical and performance expenses. Artists also receive mentorship, administrative and marketing support, and professional photos and video for their final performance.

Here’s the call for artists. An in-person Cedar Commissions Application Workshop will be held Saturday at the Cedar from 10 a.m.-noon. RSVP here. The workshop will also be streamed live on YouTube and archived. Applications are due Monday, June 3, by 11:59 p.m.

The picks

Tonight (Thursday, May 16) at Mia: Third Thursday: Fashion Night. Check out Mia’s new exhibition (so new it just opened today) “The Art of High Style: Minnesota Couture 1880-1914,” with dresses from the Minnesota Historical Society collection, plus paintings and works on paper. See a “Then & Now” fashion show, create your own custom art wig, learn basic mending and hand-stitching techniques (we all need those, to keep up our own wardrobes) and stop by the cash bar. What to wear? 6-9 p.m. Free.

Tonight through Sunday: The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra: Haydn’s “Surprise” Symphony with Jonathan Cohen. SPCO artistic partner, multi-instrumentalist and baroque music specialist Cohen will lead a program of music composed and first heard within the same 38 years – in the 1700s. Principal  cello Julie Albers will perform C.P.E. Bach’s Cello Concerto in A major, part of a concert that also includes Mozart’s Incidental Music to “Thamos, King of Egypt,” his “Serenata notturna” for two small orchestras and Haydn’s “Surprise” symphony. 7:30 p.m. tonight at Trinity Lutheran Church in Stillwater, Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Ordway Concert Hall and Sunday at 2 p.m. at Benson Great Hall. FMI and tickets. A shorter version of this concert (minus the “Thamos”) will be performed Friday at 7 p.m. at Humboldt High School Auditorium. Tickets to that will be free for residents of St. Paul’s West Side and for kids, students, and families of West Side school students, $15 for adult general admission.

The Bakken gardens
Courtesy of the Bakken
The Bakken hopes you’ll stop by during Doors Open Minneapolis this weekend – not only to see its beautiful museum, but also to tour its magnificent gardens.
Saturday and Sunday at the Bakken Museum: Garden Tours. The Bakken hopes you’ll stop by during Doors Open Minneapolis this weekend – not only to see its beautiful museum, located in  a historic Gothic-Tudor mansion on Bde Maka Ska, but also to tour its magnificent gardens, where the yellow ladyslippers are in bloom. (The Bakken is on three acres of gardens, grounds and wetlands; maybe you’ve driven by it and always wondered about it.) Guided tours of the gardens will depart every hour on the hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Free.

Sunday at the New Hope Cinema Grill: “Game of Thrones” series finale. Want to watch the final-final, who-gets-to-sit-on-the-Iron-Throne episode of GOT on a big screen? In a crowd? With popcorn and a bag of Reese’s Pieces? That sounds like a fun way to conclude an eight-year relationship with a TV series we hoped would end differently from the way it will probably end, if last week’s penultimate episode was any clue. Where’s David Chase when we need him, or Vince Gilligan? Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8. Free.

Sunday at Como Lakeside Pavilion: National Tap Dance Day. The official National Tap Dance Day is May 25, but Keane Sense of Rhythm wants to celebrate earlier. Bring the family to see tap dancers from all over the Twin Cities, Keane’s Youth Tap Ensemble and adult tap students do their thing. If you tap, bring your shoes and join in at the end. 1-3 p.m. Free.

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