THEATER | Joseph Scrimshaw’s “Fat Man Crying” brings the season’s sublimated emotions bubbling comically to the surface

Joking Envelope’s Fat Man Crying, presented at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage, is refreshing in that it doesn’t attempt to solve the world’s problems in one Christmas night. It does, however, crush every childhood picture of Santa Claus you may have—unless the Santa at your local mall carried a bottle of Jameson and kept trying to get your mom in his lap.While Skye and George Deal (Amy Schweickhardt and Ivey Award Winner Matt Rein) celebrate Christmas Eve, their festivities are interrupted by a depressed, blubbering Santa Claus (a hilarious Matt Erkel). Drunk and lonely, Santa comes close to ruining Christmas, and much more, for the Deals. Throw in the antics of the “anti-Santa” played by Joseph Scrimshaw—also the show’s writer and director—and this couple has a lot more than dinner with the in-laws to worry about.The dialogue is fast-paced and witty. The punch lines are rapid-fire and Scrimshaw’s script makes you pay attention, not wanting to miss any of the smaller jokes hidden throughout. Continue Reading

University of Minnesota research looks at homeless youth

“How do you prepare someone from an unstable childhood for a stable adulthood?” asks Dr. Jarrett Gupton. This is a question that Dr. Gupton, who holds a doctoral degree in urban education policy, and two colleagues addressed in April 2008 in Los Angeles, CA, where he conducted research on homeless youth and on ways in which education can be used as a tool to combat long-term homelessness. Now Dr. Jarrett Gupton has come to Minnesota on a postdoctoral fellowship and is asking the same question. In 2008, Gupton and colleagues compiled a comprehensive report on obstacles facing homeless youth in the LA metro area and made recommendations as to how the city and state could improve access to higher education to homeless youth. Continue Reading

zAmya Theater Project: Housed and homeless actors telling their own stories

This week the zAmya Theater Project’s sixth season debuts in honor of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. zAmya’s production includes a mix of housed and homeless actors who have gathered to fulfill zAmya’s mission: “zAmya Theater Project creates community-based theater to increase awareness and understanding of homelessness, inspiring people to end it.” zAmya is a traveling show that performs for audiences at diverse venues such as Salvation Army Minneapolis and Bedlam Theatre.This years production, Housed and Homeless: From the Very Same Cup, is a funny and honest compilation of stories and social truths. The script includes literal and metaphorical monologues about the actors’ personal stories, often connected with the actors’ experiences with homelessness and loss.Lecia Grossman, the founder and executive director of zAmya, says she started in order to “find a creative way to learn about homelessness and to create a community dialogue.” The show runs a short 45 minutes, with a 15-minute question and answer period following. Continue Reading

Social Host Ordinance passes in Saint Paul

Every Friday and Saturday night in the Twin Cities, police from Minneapolis and St. Paul respond to calls about noise complaints and disruptive behavior, and make arrests for underage drinking, often at house parties. Despite the police responses, underage drinking continues to be a constant problem. St. Paul police officer Paul Schnell summed up the problem with the current laws by saying, “We can’t arrest our way out of underage consumption.” Continue Reading

Play by Play: A new independent bookstore for the theatrically-minded

Surrounded by empty bookshelves, stacked chairs, oversized papier-mâché hats, and other left-over props, Kelly Schaub, the owner of Play by Play Theatre Bookstore, and I sat down to discuss the inspiration and future plans for this unique store located at 1771 Selby Avenue in St. Paul—between Fairview and Snelling, near Macalester College and the University of St. Thomas. Having participated in the Twin Cities theater scene for ten years now, this self-described “recovering stage manager” has decided to take a break from the backstage life and open a bookstore. “About ten years ago I realized the Twin Cities needed something like this,” she says, “and about five years ago I did some market research and wrote a business plan.” About a year ago Schaub pulled out that business plan, “dusted it off,” and decided it was finally time.As far as book selection, Play by Play will offer new and used scripts, theory, biographies, and other theater-related literature. Continue Reading

REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK | Faces and dollar signs: The human impact of losing General Assistance Medical Care

We are working on a story about the impact of cutting General Assistance Medical Care, and we’d like your help and input:
• Are you someone who has been affected by GAMC? What is your story?• Is your organization connected to this issue? What is your organization’s stance?• Why, when the state needs more money, do those who need help the most, lose the most?Send your stories, suggestions, input to

What we know
Governor Pawlenty recently cut the General Assistance Medical Care from the state budget, effectively eliminating the program in its entirety. It is estimated that 30,000 Minnesota residents will lose their health care. The money will run out and the program officially will officially end April 1, 2010. Continue Reading

5,000 undead to swarm the West Bank: Zombie Pub Crawl grows to frightening proportions

It’s October again, and while many have their sights set on Halloween, I have had my calendar marked for the fifth annual Zombie Pub Crawl ever since the morning after the fourth annual Zombie Pub Crawl last year. The Minneapolis Zombie Pub Crawl, the oldest and largest of its kind (yes, there are more of them), consists of thousands of zombie-loving citizens donning ripped clothes and fake blood and proceeding to wander, as the undead, down a preset path of participating bars. This Saturday, a pack of zombies will once again take to the streets for “Zombie Pub Crawl V: It’s Starting To Stink” and all are invited to join, though perhaps it’s a little easier for those of legal drinking age to participate. The festivities will begin at 4 p.m. in Gold Medal Park, where the horde will gather before embarking on the crawl. At the park there will be time to put on your zombie makeup; a little fake flesh and blood are provided, and there will be merchandise for sale and general pre-crawl carousing. Continue Reading

Instant runoff eating and drinking in St. Paul

While Minneapolis is getting ready for the big change to Instant Runoff Voting, also known as Ranked Choice Voting, across the river in Saint Paul voters still have time to decide whether they prefer the old or new voting style. Saint Paul residents will vote on November 3 on whether to adopt Instant Runoff Voting. Proponents of the voting change argue the new system will decrease election costs and increase voter turnout. Unfortunately their will be no time to see how the system works in Minneapolis. Instead, some Saint Paul businesses are getting creative to show the effects one might experience with Instant Runoff Voting. Continue Reading

Trafficking Native American girls and women in Minnesota

On September 25, Minneapolis councilmember Gary Schiff’s monthly breakfast meeting addressed the trafficking of Native American girls and women in Minnesota. Guest speakers Suzanne Koepplinger, Executive Director of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center (MWIRC) and Suzanne Tibbits Young from the Division of Indian Work presented the results of recent research on the subject in an effort to increase community awareness of this issue. About 20 people attended the meeting, which included a summary of the report entitled “Shattered Hearts: The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of American Indian Women and Girls in Minnesota.”  The MIWRC and the Division of Indian Work also made recommendations for confronting the problem. The report was spurred by a 2007 Human Trafficking Task Force estimate that showed a disproportionate amount of Native American Women experiencing sexual exploitation. In response to the August 2009 report, Suzanne Koepplinger discussed finding solutions that would be “meeting the needs of the victim from their perspective, not our perspective.” Continue Reading