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Music in the Parks going virtual through June; ‘Glensheen’ postponed

ALSO: Theater Mu’s “24 Hour Playfest”; Mia presents Susan Lanzoni: “Empathy: A History” online; and more.

Minneapolis Music and Movies in the Parks
Minneapolis Music and Movies in the Parks: Nope, not happening, at least not in May or June.
Minneapolis Music and Movies in the Parks

Friday morning’s announcement that the Minnesota State Fair won’t happen this year – not unexpected, but it still hurt – was followed later that day by another downer. Minneapolis Music in the Parks, our summertime Memorial-Day-through-Labor-Day series of concerts at five city parks, has canceled all live events in May and June. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) will decide on June 1 what to do about July, and on July 1 about August and September.

All is not lost. MPRB plans to move the May and June events online. The first virtual concert would have been on Memorial Day (Monday, May 25), with the Belfast Cowboys and Rich Mattson and the North Stars. But “in working through this new process of producing virtual concerts, in order to produce a quality product, the production is taking a bit longer than expected,” said a news release on Sunday. Look for it later this week. Meanwhile, we’re all being asked to follow Minneapolis Music and Movies in the Parks on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram.

The Movies in the Parks series doesn’t start until August, so we don’t know yet what will happen to that. Will it go virtual, too? (MSPIFF just set a good example.) Meanwhile, the news about Music in the Parks brings to mind that Joni Mitchell line, “Don’t it always seem to go/That you don’t know what you’ve got/’Til it’s gone.” We didn’t attend a lot of Music in the Parks concerts, but we always knew we could if we wanted to, for free, every night of the week (weather permitting), all summer long.

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History Theatre postpones ‘Glensheen’ return and tour

When you have a hit on your hands, year after year – for example, the Guthrie’s “A Christmas Carol” or the History Theatre’s “Glensheen” – you don’t cancel it lightly. Earlier this month, we learned that “A Christmas Carol” won’t be staged in 2020. (ICYMI, the Guthrie won’t reopen until March 2021.)

Jennifer Maren, center, as Marjorie Caldwell in the History Theatre production of “Glensheen.”
Photo by Scott J. Pakudaitis
Jennifer Maren, center, as Marjorie Caldwell in the History Theatre production of “Glensheen.”
On Tuesday, the History Theatre announced that “Glensheen,” originally scheduled for July 11-Aug. 2, has been postponed. So has a planned August and September 2020 tour of Greater Minnesota. “Glensheen” will return as part of the 2020-21 mainstage season, to be announced in July, and the tour will be rescheduled.

The History Theatre will continue with its History Theatre at Home online programming. “Sweet Land, the Musical” will stream from June 12-25. This Friday, May 29, “Spilling the HT: Real People, Real Talk” will return with a “Sweet Land” edition, with creators Perrin Post and Dina Maccabee and cast members Ann Michels and Matt Riehle. FMI.

McKnight Artist Fellows announced

In good news about the arts, the McKnight Foundation this spring has been granting its annual Artist Fellowships as usual, category by category – including two new categories this year, for Fiber Artists and Community-Engaged Artists. The foundation contributes about $1.7 million per year to its statewide fellowships.

Given to outstanding midcareer Minnesota artists in 10 creative disciplines, the McKnight awards are prestigious and especially welcome this year, when artists are losing jobs, gigs and opportunities everywhere we look. Each fellowship comes with a $25,000 unrestricted cash award. Fellowships are administered (and announced) by program partners.

On Tuesday, the Cowles Center announced the 2020 McKnight Dancer and Choreographer Fellows. The Dancer Fellows are Melissa Clark, a diasporic artist and founder of the collective COHORTS; dancer, choreographer and teacher Non Edwards; and Marciano Silva dos Santos, founder of Contempo Physical Dance. The Choreographer Fellows are HIJACK (Arwen Wilder and Kristin Van Loon); Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy, co-artistic directors of Ragamala Dance Company; and Karen Sherman.

HIJACK's Kristin Van Loon and Arwen Wilder.
Photo by Jaime Carrera
HIJACK's Kristin Van Loon and Arwen Wilder.
Announced earlier by the Playwrights’ Center: the 2020-21 McKnight National Residency and Commission Recipient and Playwriting Fellows. The National Residency and Commission funds the creation and development of new works; this year’s winner is American playwright and video game writer Gracie Gardner. The Fellowships in Playwriting fund play development and other professional expenses; the new fellows are Chicano playwright and educator Marvin González De León and Minneapolis-based playwright and screenwriter Savannah Reich.

Announced earlier by MacPhail Center for Music: the 2020-21 McKnight Fellowships for Musicians. The new Musician Fellows are saxophonist José Zayas Cabán, a native Puerto Rican, musician activist and co-founder of the chamber music trio {Trés}; vocalist and composer PaviElle French, whose first symphony, “A Requiem for Zula,” was commissioned and performed by the SPCO in 2019; Diane Miller, aka D Mills, a singer, rapper, looper, beatboxer, songwriter, guitarist and leader of the band D Mills and The Thrills; and cellist Kirsten Whitson, who performs extensively as a soloist, chamber and orchestral musician.

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Announced earlier by Pillsbury House Theatre: the 2020 McKnight Fellowships for Community-Engaged Artists. Cecilia Cornejo Sotelo, a Northfield-based Chilean-American documentary filmmaker, artist and educator, and Rory Wakemup, a community activist, teacher, and enrolled member of the Bois Forte Anishinabe (Chippewa tribe), were the inaugural winners in this new Artist Fellows category.

Announced earlier by the Textile Center: the 2020 McKnight Fellowships for Fiber Artists. In another new category, Liz Miller, a professor of installation art and drawing at MSU-Mankato, and Korean-born, Duluth-based textile installation artist Eun-Kyung Suh were the inaugural recipients.

The picks

Tonight (Wednesday, May 27) at 7:30 p.m. on Google Meet: “The Mother Courage Project.” The Department of Theatre and Dance at Gustavus Adolphus College knew what their spring production would be: Brecht’s “Mother Courage.” They knew where it would be staged: at the college’s new Laboratory Theatre. The set had been designed and the director had been named. Then COVID-19 hit and the college moved to online instruction. So the set designer built a miniature version of the set in her garage. The director, a professor of theater, turned her job over to 10 students. The actor cast as “Mother Courage” learned her role at home, filmed by her father. The composer led the cast in recording their parts at home and is producing an album from the recording. Go here FMI, a peek at the set and links to the Google Meet page.

Now on YouTube: “Dancemaker.” The Paul Taylor Dance Company was supposed to perform on March 21 as part of Northrop’s strong and splendid 2019-20 Dance Season. That didn’t happen, but there’s this: a 1998 documentary by Matthew Diamond that takes you behind the scenes for a close look into Taylor’s creative process. You can also watch it on the company’s website. Once touring and live performances shut down, the Taylor Company turned its attention to creating a strong digital/virtual presence, with streaming programs and classes available.

A screen shot from the HOTTEA “Perspective” video.
A screen shot from the HOTTEA “Perspective” video.
Now on MCAD’s website: “HOTTEA References Jasper Johns in Yarn Installation.” HOTTEA – born Eric Rieger – is an installation artist who grew up in Minneapolis, got in trouble with the police for graffiti and vowed he would never embarrass his family again. So he switched to working with yarn, knotting his name into chain-link fences and eventually creating epic works in yarn all over the world (including a massive 2017 piece in the rotunda at the Mall of America). He recently referenced Jasper Johns’ “Flags” painting in an outdoor installation in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, he called “Perspective.” (There’s a big Jasper Johns exhibit on now at the Walker, except, of course, we can’t see it in person.) Read MCAD’s description (Rieger is an MCAD grad), then go here to learn more and view a video. What do you think HOTTEA was saying? And did he really pull a Banksy?

Thursday (May 28) at 12 noon on Mia’s Facebook page: Susan Lanzoni: “Empathy: A History.” Under its previous president and director Kaywin Feldman, Mia embarked on an ambitious and fascinating initiative: using art to foster empathy and global understanding. In 2017, with $750,000 from the Mellon Foundation, it established the world’s first Center for Empathy and the Visual Arts. At this virtual event, Lanzoni, a historian of psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience at Harvard’s School of Continuing Education, will share her research into the earliest conceptions of empathy, its present meaning and the importance of practicing empathy in our current moment. Register here.

Friday and Saturday (May 29-30) on Theater Mu’s Facebook page: “24 Hour Playfest.” One day, 30 artists, 6 brand new plays. With Katie Bradley, Katie Ka Vang, Francesca Fernandez McKenzie, Leah Nanako Winkler, Sara Ochs, Rich Remedios, Eric Sharp, Rick Shiomi, Danielle Troiano, Lily Tung Crystal, Saymoukda Vongsay, Lauren Yee and more. On Friday during Mu-tini Hour (7 p.m.-8:30 p.m.), playwrights will receive their randomized prompts, directors and actors and start writing. Directors and actors will be introduced. On Saturday at 7 p.m., the performances will begin. RSVP to the Mu-tini hour here, to the performances here.