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Guthrie, Minnesota Orchestra add to programming; Park Square presents Halloween shows

ALSO: Theater Mu presents virtual “China Doll” and Mu-tini Hour; National Lutheran Choir’s online “All Saints” program; and more.

Palestinian artist Amir Nizar Zuabi's “This Is Who I Am,” to be streamed over Zoom from Nov. 29 to Dec. 27.
Palestinian artist Amir Nizar Zuabi's “This Is Who I Am,” to be streamed over Zoom from Nov. 29 to Dec. 27.
Courtesy of the Guthrie

During its 2019-20 season, before that ended abruptly in early April, the Guthrie celebrated Arab artistry with a series of plays and a conversation. One of the plays was Remote Theater Project’s production of “Grey Rock,” written and directed by Palestinian artist Amir Nizar Zuabi.

Now the Guthrie has joined with five other arts organizations to present Zuabi’s “This Is Who I Am,” to be streamed over Zoom from Nov. 29 to Dec. 27.

What’s interesting about this play, along with the fact that so many organizations are behind it, is that it was originally meant to be told through a video call, not performed on stage. In “This Is Who I Am,” an estranged father and son – one in the Palestinian city of Ramallah, one in New York City – reunite over Zoom to re-create a cherished family recipe and bridge the gap between them.

Directed by Evren Odcikin, actors Ramsey Faragallah (Dad) and Yousof Sultani (Son) will be performing and cooking in real time. Designers are working with Faragallah and Sultani to adapt their home kitchens for live performances of the play.

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Along with the Guthrie, the co-producers include PlayCo, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, American Repertory Theater and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Joseph Haj, artistic director of the Guthrie, is production dramaturg for “This Is Who I Am.” FMI including times and tickets (start at $15).

What are you doing New Year’s Eve? You can add this to your calendar: a livestreamed concert by the Minnesota Orchestra, led by Osmo Vänskä.

The orchestra is calling it “Vänskä Conducts a New Year’s Celebration.” Vänskä said in a statement, “New Year’s Eve is a time for music, a time to bid farewell to one year and look ahead with hope to the next.”

The concert will be part of the series of free performances the orchestra is presenting live from Orchestra Hall, without in-person audiences, on its website, Twin Cities PBS and Classical MPR. It replaces the previously announced concert on Dec. 4, so you can take that off your calendar.

The orchestra also announced details for other live streaming concerts this fall. A few examples: the Nov. 6 program will include Louis Ballard’s “Ritmo India: A Study in American Indian Rhythm.” William Eddins, the orchestra’s associate conductor in the 1990s, will return to the podium on Nov. 20. And the Dec. 18 concert, conceived and directed by Theatre Latté Da’s Peter Rothstein and conducted by Sarah Hicks, will feature a virtual collaboration between the orchestra and Border CrosSing, led by Ahmed Anzaldúa.

McKnights for writers: $25K, anyone?

Applications are open for the 2021 McKnight Artist Fellowships for Writers. Five awards of $25,000 each are given annually to accomplished Minnesota writers and spoken word artists.

These are unrestricted grants for mid-career artists. Past writer fellows include Michael Torres, Heid Erdrich, David Mura, Kelly Barnhill, Shannon Gibney, Danez Smith, Kao Kalia Yang, Matt Rasmussen and Kate DiCamillo.

Four of this year’s five McKnights will be given in the category of creative prose, which includes fiction and also literary nonfiction: memoir, personal essay, autobiography. The fifth will go to a writer of children’s literature for ages 8 and up.

Applications are due Friday, Nov. 20, at 11:59 p.m. The Loft is facilitating the applications. FMI.

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The picks

V Now on the Minnesota Orchestra’s website and Youtube: Minnesota Orchestra and Jon Kimura Parker perform the finale to Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto. This is absolutely wonderful – so energetic, playful and joyful. Colorful, too, thanks to “Jackie” Parker’s pink shirt and the painting on the wall behind him. We can’t wait to see what he does with the orchestra as its new creative partner for summer programming, when summer programming can resume. Seriously, watch this. It will make you happy.

V Tonight (Thursday, Oct. 29) on CrowdCast: Jazz Fest Live presents the Marvelous Marilyn Maye. A recording of a performance from Maye’s recent five-night stand in the big tent at Crooners. At 92, Maye is still a wonder. The Star Tribune’s Jon Bream was there for one of the shows and wrote, “[She] fills the room with her vivacious personality, incomparable energy and uncanny sense of timeless showbiz.” Watch for free or make a donation to the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, which is working hard to keep musicians working and get them paid. FMI and reservation.

Craig Johnson, host of Park Square’s “Theatre of the Macabre.”
Courtesy of Park Square Theatre
Craig Johnson, host of Park Square’s “Theatre of the Macabre.”
V Tonight (Thursday, Oct. 29) through Saturday (Oct. 31) on Zoom: Park Square Theatre: “Theatre of the Macabre.” What will you do for Halloween? Stop by Park Square’s virtual space for one, two or three nights of true ghost stories, scenes and readings from Edgar Allen Poe, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, music from “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and more. Thursday will feature tales written and performed by women, Friday will be about classic literary scenes, and Saturday will be a sort of Halloween round-up. Craig Johnson and Kim Vasquez will direct an impressive array of talent including Ryan Colbert, Emily Gunyou Halaas, Peter Christian Hansen, Mo Perry, Dane Stauffer and others. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets (each evening $15, all three $30). BTW Park Square knows what to do with Zoom. Its “Diary of Anne Frank” earlier this year was outstanding, and its production of Jeffrey Hatcher’s mystery serial “Riddle Puzzle Plot” was a lot of fun.

V Friday (Oct. 30) on Facebook and YouTube: Theater Mu: “China Doll” and Mu-tini Hour. Anna May Wong was the first Asian American movie star. Elizabeth Wong’s play “China Doll” is a sensual fantasia inspired by her life. Watch as Monica Ho performs a 35-minute excerpt from the play. Then stay around for Mu-tini Hour, when Mu’s artistic director, Lily Tung Crystal, hosts a talk with the playwright, the actor and U of M professor Josephine Lee about the creative process, the history of Asian American representation and a new play reading book club. 7 p.m. Free, but do the right thing and register here.

Under the direction of David Cherwien, the 64-member National Lutheran Choir will sing its annual All Saints concert online.
Under the direction of David Cherwien, the 64-member National Lutheran Choir will sing its annual All Saints concert online.
V Premieres Sunday (Nov. 1) on the National Lutheran Choir’s web page: “All Saints: In Memoriam (We Remember).” COVID has been devastating for choirs and choruses. Some, like VocalEssence, are fighting through; most are waiting until they can sing together again without worry or fear. Under the direction of David Cherwien, the 64-member National Lutheran Choir will sing its annual All Saints concert. The performances will shift from live to online; that’s to be expected. But what they’ve done with the music will be totally new to the NLC. In Cherwien’s words, “It turns out that, with the pandemic, we can do some things virtually that we can’t do live.” The music was recorded solo or in small groups and assembled in the editing room. New works were commissioned from artist-in-residence Paul Rudio, including a new setting of the 19th-century hymn text “Breathe on me, Breath of God.” Here’s a trailer. 4 p.m. Free, plus the concert will remain available for viewing through the fall.