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Weekend picks: Theater Mu’s New Eyes Festival and imagining a U.S. without racism at Mixed Blood

Plus: The Illusion Theater brings back its poignant production of “A PLAY by Barb and Carl” and the Joyann Parker Band hits Crooners.

Theater Mu’s New Eyes Festival is going strong nearly 30 years in, with staged readings by Asian American playwrights.
Theater Mu’s New Eyes Festival is going strong nearly 30 years in, with staged readings by Asian American playwrights.
Courtesy of Theater Mu

The changes to the labor market caused by the pandemic have rollicked industries across the board, and a newfound energy is infusing unions across the industry. From a recently settled battle at the Minneapolis Public Schools to a new union of Amazon workers in Staten Island, everybody’s talking about what unions mean right now in our shifting economy. Coming up on Monday, a host of really smart people will be taking on this topic at the Eastside Freedom Library, which recently announced a new director that will take the reins this spring. 

Before that, Illusion Theater is bringing back its poignant production of “A PLAY by Barb and Carl,” by Carlyle Brown, and Joyann Parker band hits Crooners. At Theater Mu, catch new plays in development, and at Mixed Blood Theatre, allow your imagination to explore what the U.S. would be like without racism. There’s also an art exhibition over at La Doña’s gallery, UR/IN with live painting and locally brewed beer.

Kim Richardson and Joe Nathan Thomas as Barb and Carl.
Lauren B. Photography
Kim Richardson and Joe Nathan Thomas as Barb and Carl.
A PLAY by Barb and Carl
In March of 2017, the lives of playwright Carlyle Brown and dramaturg Barbara Joyce Rose-Brown changed forever when Barbara suffered a stroke, which caused weakness in her right side and inhibited her ability to speak. Suddenly, the married couple had to face the intricacies of the health care system as well as the impact the stroke had on Barbara’s life and their lives together. It would be a year before Barbara would be able to move from her care facility into a new home together. It was a time of struggle, but also a time of discovery, where the two learned patience, courage, and laughter. “A PLAY by Barb and Carl” shares the intimate journey of this tremendous couple, in a story about caregiving, about language, and mostly about love. It opens Friday April 8 and runs through April 30 at the Illusion Theater, ($5-55). More information here

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Joyann Parker Band
Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Joyann Parker brings her earthy alto voice to Crooner’s. With a blues sound that has shades of rock, country and soul, Parker has been holding audiences rapt for four years doing her Patsy Kline show, and has been gaining a following around the Twin Cities and elsewhere for her delectable warmth. She plays the MainStage at Crooner at 8 p.m. on Friday ($20-25). More information here. 

“imagine a u.s. without racism” previews begin Friday, April 8.
Courtesy of Mixed Blood
“imagine a u.s. without racism” previews begin Friday, April 8.
“imagine a u.s. without racism
Seema Sueko interviewed 100 people from every state in the U.S. in preparation for the play “imagine a u.s. without racism,” commission by Mixed Blood. The play draws inspiration from the zoom and phone interviews, conducted during the pandemic. It centers on seven people in a remedial class, as Sueko asks audiences to dream of the seemingly impossible. It’s the last play directed by founding artistic director Jack Reuler. Previews begin Friday, April 8, with opening night taking place 7:30 p.m. April 13 at Mixed Blood. More information here

Batman by Charbel Abuxapqui
Courtesy of the UR/IN Gallery
Batman by Charbel Abuxapqui
Multiverse
With “Everything Everywhere All at Once” being the runway hit of the spring, the concept of multiverses are in the air. Deepen your exploration of multiple universes with a new exhibition at UR/IN Gallery at La Doña Cerveceria. Mexican artist Charbel Abuxapqui will be doing a painting a live mural at the event, which also features his multidimensional alien creatures. The gallery exhibition is Abuxapqui’s first in the United States. The gallery is located in the open-spaced, colorful brewery, with the main space covered in murals by Luis Fitch, an artist whose Day of the Dead imagery has been featured on U.S. postal stamps. The opening reception takes place 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 9 at the UR/IN Gallery at La Doña Cerveceria (free). More information here

New Eyes Festival
Theater Mu’s New Eyes Festival is going strong nearly 30 years in, with staged readings by Asian American playwrights. This year, playwright-in-Residence Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay’s play, “KUNG FU ZOMBIES VS SHAMAN WARRIOR,” is already sold out, but there are still spots for Katie Ka Vang’s “Again,” with music by Melissa Li, at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 9, and “Exotic Deadly: or the Msg Play,” by Keiko Green at 5 p.m. on April 10 at Theater Mu (free, but reservations requested). More information here

On the Line: A Story of Class, Solidarity, and Two Women’s Epic Fight to Build a Union”
Longtime union organizer and writer Daisy Pitkin has worked to support garment workers around the world, and laundry workers here in the U.S., all while racking up literary awards for her writing. Her latest book, “ON THE LINE: A Story of Class, Solidarity, and Two Women’s Epic Fight to Build a Union,” tells the story of Pitkin’s experiences as an organizer fighting alongside immigrant workers, sharing the complexity of interpersonal relationships and navigating her own privilege. Pitkin will be part of a virtual panel discussion along with Dania Rajendra, Megan Gavin, and Jackson Kerr 7 p.m.  Monday, April 12 at the Eastside Freedom Library. More information here

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