Once upon a time, in 1983, there was The Gospel at Colonus (New Video NYC) a groundbreaking, Obie Award winning triumph that inarguably stands the proverbial test of time. It is an ingenious hallmark, at once culturally specific and completely universal, showcasing the pure power of soul in a classic, mainstream accessible aesthetic. Nothing quite like it had been done before, not since, say, Porgy and Bess. Colonus also happens to strongly represent Twin Cities talent. Adapted and directed by Lee Bruer with music by Bob Telson, it starred Morgan Freeman and Clarence Fountain and the Five Blind Boys of Alabama.
THEATER REVIEW | “Detroit ’67″ at Penumbra Theatre: A look back at the future with a great soundtrack
The Penumbra Theater brings to life segments of history that many of us didn’t read in our textbooks. Detroit ’67 is an inside look at the race riots from the view of a basement in Detroit near the epicenter of the riots. Main characters Chelle and Lank have inherited the house from their parents. They host house parties in the basement to make money; the work is more regular and profitable than factory jobs. The house parties feature Motown music that punctuates the action throughout. An interesting tangent in the play is the change over from records (45’s) to 8 track tapes – a movement that represents a leap into the future. Continue Reading
For one month in 1970, protesters occupied two buildings slated for demolition to build a fast-food restaurant called the Red Barn in Dinkytown near the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.One predawn morning in early May, police in riot gear cleared the protesters while bulldozers leveled the buildings. Within a day, the demonstrators built a peace garden on the site and, a year later, Red Barn gave up the idea of building another fast-food store in Dinkytown.Subsequent efforts to stop development in Dinkytown haven’t gone so well. Matt Hawbaker, who helped organize Save Dinkytown in an unsuccessful effort to stop a much larger development two years ago, said he felt awe and jealousy as he watched Al Milgrom’s “The Dinkytown Uprising,” a film about the Red Barn protest.Hawbaker and a panel of other neighborhood activists and residents compared notes April 20 with Monte Bute, one of the protestors featured in the film.“We went with a more political solution,” said Hawbaker, who noted that they came close to having the City Council block demolition of buildings to make way for the mixed-use Opus Development, now called Venue. “The projects that are proposed are not the best shot for independent business,” he said. “We got a Starbucks, a Great Clips and an offshoot of Goodwill.”He and Lynn Nyman, a manager for Loring Café and Varsity Theater, said that more than 60 percent of Dinkytown’s businesses are still local, adding that the area has been and continues to be an incubator of small business.Another panelist, Hung Q. Russell, chairman of the Marcy-Holmes Land Use Committee, called the film a well-drafted story narrative. Continue Reading
This is the season of Minnesota Fringe Festival show planning. Lottery numbers were drawn in late February, venue assignments and showtimes went out to producers last week, and Minnesota Playlist is sprouting Fringe-related casting notices and other classifieds. For some teams, now is the time when the writers first begin to frantically craft material; for others, the scripts and scores were set in stone well before their applications went in. The clock is ticking: in less than four months’ time, the country’s largest unjuried theatre festival will have come and gone, bringing about 50,000 attendees – 10,000 more than Target Field’s maximum, and about 91% of the capacity of the old Metrodome – to Minneapolis stages.So what happens to a Fringe show once the festival has come and gone? For most shows, a quiet repose and a few playbill credits await. Continue Reading
Without context, Pao Her’s photographs appear to be simply portraits of U.S. veterans from the 19th century. With context, The new installation Attention at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts provokes questions about international politics and what it means to be a Hmong American who served in Vietnam.Pao Her, photographing Hmong American veterans of the Vietnam War in uniforms, medals, and ribbons they bought themselves, attempts to draw attention to their exclusion from recognition by the U.S. military. Since the war, many Hmong soldiers have immigrated to the U.S. and made their home here, but they are denied the benefits U.S. veterans receive because they were not officially a part of the U.S. military, even though the U.S. recruited and trained them to fight a civil war on our behalf.Should a government be able to recruit and train foreign soldiers without recognizing an obligation to them as veterans? Should every soldier recruited and trained by the U.S. be recognized and provided with benefits? Does this change if the soldiers are displaced when the U.S. loses? Continue Reading