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Theater 45º debuts at Plymouth Congregational; Cedar Thoms album release at Icehouse

ALSO: New McKnight fellowships – for book artists; Silver Jubilee exhibition at the Textile Center; and more.

Blackout Improv
Blackout Improv, a mix of comedy, social justice and arts access that is changing the face of comedy stages in Minnesota, will perform Sept. 9.
Courtesy of the artists

The 2019-20 theater season is almost here, with many productions lining up at the starting gate for their September openings. Meanwhile, Seth Patterson, a member of the clergy at Plymouth Congregational Church, has been organizing something new called Theater 45º.

Patterson was originally hired by the church in 2016 as the director of Children and Youth Ministry. In early 2018, he became the director of Spiritual Formation and Theater. For fun, we did a Google search. It seems Patterson is the only person in the world with that title. He holds a Master of Divinity from the University of Chicago, an MFA in theater and a BA in theater and philosophy (from St. Olaf College in Northfield).

Starting Sept. 9, Theater 45º will debut a new series of six events at Plymouth, all free. There is a $15 suggested donation, but at Plymouth, suggested means suggested. In our experience there, specifically for Literary Witness events, volunteers will hold baskets, hoping (and probably praying) you’ll drop something in, but they will not guilt you out or chase you down.

The series is called “Step Back, Listen Up: Stories We All Need to Hear.” Here’s how it is described: “People at the margins in our society have stories that are effectively invisible. This new series will allow groups from outside the dominant culture to tell the stories that they feel need to be made visible.” Theatre 45º won’t do the telling. It will provide the space and the resources.

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Patterson said in a statement, “The purpose of Theatre 45º is to use the theatrical experience to deepen the many facets of being human. We intend to present stories that engage the spiritual idea of the human person regardless of – but not ignoring – a religious experience. These stories are rooted in questions and not answers.”

Here’s the lineup:

Sept. 9: Blackout Improv. A mix of comedy, social justice and arts access that is changing the face of comedy stages in Minnesota.

Sept. 23: Irreducible Grace Foundation. An organization that uses theater arts, written and spoken word to foster youth voices and create healing opportunities for youth of color.

Oct. 7: Interact Center for the Visual and Performing Arts. Creating art in a spirit of radical inclusion that challenges perceptions of disability.

Oct. 21: ALMA (the Alliance of Latinx Minnesota Artists). Making visible the diverse artistic voices of Minnesota’s Latinx community.

Nov. 4: Washburn High School Blackbox Theatre. A social justice theater program at a public high school that promotes youth voices and change in our community. Run by Crystal Spring, director of acting, this program was featured in Season 7 of TPT’s MN Original.

Nov. 18: zAmya Theater. Bringing together homeless and housed individuals to create and perform a theatrical production; turning “homeless” from a word back into a person.

All performances are Mondays at 7 p.m. at Plymouth Congregational Church. (Smart scheduling. Most theaters are dark on Mondays.) Reservations are encouraged because the chapel seats about 100.

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New McKnight fellowships – for book artists

To the long list of working Minnesota artists the McKnight Foundation currently supports – ceramic artists, choreographers, composers, dancers, media artists, musicians, playwrights, printmakers, theater artists, visual artists and writers – we can now add another category: book artists.

Starting in 2019/2020, the Minnesota Center for Book Arts will partner with McKnight to offer two annual fellowships of $25,000 apiece to midcareer book artists making remarkable work in Minnesota.

Along with the unrestricted cash award, fellows will receive funding for professional digital documentation of artwork, an Arts Collective membership at MCBA, two studio visits from a national critic/curator/artist, featured participation in a public artist panel at Open Book, a travel honorarium and an opportunity to attend an artist residency program.

Applications will open Dec. 1, 2019, and close March 1, 2020. FMI.

Go here to see and learn about all the 2019 fellows.

The picks

Robert Cray
Courtesy of the artist
Robert Cray
Tonight (Wednesday, Aug. 28) at the Minnesota Zoo: Robert Cray. Music in the Zoo brings the five-time Grammy winner and Blues Hall of Famer to the Weesner Family Amphitheater. Touring his latest album, “Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm,” he’ll deliver a can’t-miss night of blues, soul and R&B. Seven-time Minnesota Music Award winner Paul Metsa and Sonny Earl – aka White Boys Lost in the Blues – will open. Doors at 7 p.m., music at 7:30. FMI and tickets ($46-58.50 VIP).

Now at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona: “Alec Soth: Sleeping by the Mississippi.” Heading toward Winona anytime between now and this Sunday, Sept. 1? That’s when this show of 21 large-scale photographs from Soth’s “Sleeping by the Mississippi” ends. Shot over a period of five years along America’s “forgotten coast,” this landmark project propelled Soth to international critical and commercial success. Museum hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. Admission $7 adults and seniors, $3 students, children and members free. Also on display at this intriguing museum we really must visit someday (its overarching theme: “great art inspired by water”): Seth Casteel’s “Underwater Dogs,” which opened last Friday.

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Now at the Textile Center: Silver Jubilee. The Textile Center is 25, and the Joan Mondale Gallery, named for its great supporter, has mounted a special exhibition of work by 11 artists who have made significant and unique contributions to the field of fiber art throughout the past quarter-century. Their creations are woven, stitched, hand-constructed, dyed, painted, manipulated and embellished, lush in materials and rich in ideas. Featured artists are Mary Bero, Jerry Bleem, Jean Cacicedo, Kyoung Ae Cho, Lia Cook, Carol Eckert, Susan Iverson, Gyöngy Laky, Chunghie Lee, Jason Pollen and Richard Saja. The gallery is open Mondays through Thursdays from 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Closed Sundays and holidays. Admission is free.

Drummer Martin Dosh and saxophonist Cedar Thoms
Courtesy of the artists
Drummer Martin Dosh and saxophonist Cedar Thoms perform Thursday at Icehouse.
Thursday at Icehouse: Cedar Thoms “Celestial Being” album release show. Saxophonist Christopher Thomson – CT to his friends and colleagues – was a frequent and beloved presence on the Twin Cities jazz scene up until about four years ago. That’s when his second child, Eden, was born with a rare genetic abnormality. The family has been on a treadmill of medical appointment and hospital stays ever since. Thomson is back with a new name, Cedar Thoms, and an exquisite new album of electronic sounds overlaid and interwoven with his saxophones and clarinets. Called “Celestial Being,” it was inspired by his daughter and what he has learned and discovered because of her. He’ll perform with Martin Dosh. 9 p.m. doors. FMI and tickets ($10 advance, $12 at the door). Read more about Cedar Thoms and Celestial Being here.