Selective admission: Dylan Lamb’s “Private School” at the Minnesota Fringe Festival

Private School is a patient show, its five young cast members holding their fire on each line until they see the whites of their opponents’ knee-highs. That gives the production a compelling texture, but unfortunately in the tight space of a Fringe slot the plot just doesn’t have enough time to build the characters these dedicated actors inhabit. Continue Reading

Theatre in the Round’s “Treasure Island” and the power of imagination

I try not to let commenters bug me, but one who did succeed in getting my dander up was an anonymous (of course) commenter on my negative review of the Jungle Theater’s Noises Off. In the review I said that people would be better off watching the 1992 film adaptation, and this commenter condescendingly sneered that comparing a theatrical production to a movie was patent evidence of my incompentence as a critic. “No critic worth anything would compare stage to screen. They’re completely different mediums and completely different techniques are used to accomplish them. I’m amazed that someone with two masters degrees doesn’t know that.”Obviously I do understand the difference between a play and a movie (though this commenter was never convinced of that), but the more reviews I write, the more I see the similarities among successful shows—whether they’re Hollywood blockbusters or shoestring community theater productions. Continue Reading

Minnesota Vikings, University of Minnesota sign multi-million-dollar contract for use of TCF Bank Stadium

The Minnesota Vikings will cover all expenses of game-day activities and other impacts on the surrounding communities—and will contribute to the Good Neighbor Fund—when they move into TCF Bank Stadium to play for two to four seasons beginning in the fall of 2014.The University of Minnesota Board of Regents approved these provisions on May 10 as part of a contract that allows the Vikings to rent the stadium for $300,000 per game for 10 Sunday games in each of two seasons. If the Vikings remain longer, the rent will increase.In addition, the Vikings will contribute $90,000 a year to the Good Neighbor Fund created by the Minnesota Legislature to ameliorate the TCF Bank Stadium’s impact on the neighborhood and will contribute an additional $35,000 in in-kind work to improve the communities.The Regents’ facilities and operations committee took a recess from its regular business on May 9 and then reconvened with a larger media presence to approve the contract, which runs to over 50 pages.  Representatives of the University and the Vikings answered questions from the press.“The tone of this is very good,” said Regent Dean E. Johnson, who chaired the committee meeting. “We want to be good neighbors to what is one of the most popular sports teams in the nation and a valuable Minnesota asset.”Explaining the contract to the committee and the press were: Pam Wheelock, vice president of university services; Mark B. Rotenberg, the University’s chief legal officer; Lester Bagley, Minnesota Vikings vice president for stadium development; and Kevin Warren, Minnesota Vikings vice president of legal affairs and chief administrative officer.Reporters asked about the in-kind contributions.”We intend to have a volunteer network similar to what they have in downtown Minneapolis, the Downtown Improvement District, where they have folks walking around and kind of telling people where to go to ensure we’re good neighbors,” Bagley said.Bagley said the Vikings have vast social networking that can provide specific help for fans on parking and traffic. They could also promote neighborhood activities and businesses, he said.Bagley said negotiations with neighbors began one year ago after the Regents approved a resolution of intent to lease the stadium to the Vikings.One of the negotiators disagreed with Bagley’s description of what constitutes an in-kind contribution.In an interview, Ted Tucker, chairman of the University District Alliance, welcomed the idea of using the ambassadors to help fans navigate the neighborhood, but said that falls under the game-day expenses that the Vikings are obligated to provide under the contract.Nonetheless, he expressed pride in the contract—for which he and Steve Banks, a resident of Prospect Park, negotiated on behalf of the neighborhoods.Tucker agreed that building playgrounds and planting trees would be considered in-kind contributions if the neighborhoods want them. Wheelock also said beautification programs and tree plantings would help, but she said details still have to be worked out.“We believe,” Tucker said, “that a season of Vikings play at TCF places a greater burden on the surrounding community because of the following factors: more fans at each game, more games per season, more fans of drinking age, fans less familiar with the University District, and games on Sunday.”In the coming seasons, he said, “there could be no weekends without large football crowds during the fall seasons in which the Vikings play at TCF.”The agreement recognizes that the Vikings can bring “unique resources” to the district and will play only a few seasons here, Tucker said.“In crafting this agreement, the U of M listened carefully to Steve’s and my advice about community engagement and, speaking for myself, I think this is a reasonable plan. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Dinkytown should be a protected historic district

Thirty years ago, in the fall of 1983, I left Richmond, Virginia where I had lived all my life, to attend U of MN-Minneapolis. I wanted to know my grandparents better and felt moving to Minnesota would enable me to see them more often before they died. They were from Alexandria, MN. I lived on campus in Comstock Dorm when it was still an all female dorm, and the school and Dinkytown were intertwined, they still are. Dinkytown and the uniqueness of it, have continued on to this day. They are intertwined with the fabric of that part of MInneapolis and that edge of U of MN. Continue Reading

THEATER REVIEW | “Something About a Bear” by Theatre Novi Most: When a bear loves a princess…

We’re all sick of snow. However, when it snows inside the theater, not just onstage, but in the audience, I’ve got to admit that’s kind of magical. Those kind of magical things happen a lot in Theatre Novi Most’s production of Something About a Bear, a whimsical romantic comedy and fairy tale for adults and children alike.“It’s like ‘The Princess and The Frog’ but in a very backwards, macabre kind of way.”Novi Most and the University of Minnesota’s Theatre Arts & Dance department have assembled a team of both student and professional actors as well as a student design team to bring to life this world premiere of Constance Congdon’s adaptation of Russian playwright Evgeny Shvartz’s work. Transplanted from Russia to the little town of Embarrass, Minnesota, the story is both modern and timeless at the same time.“Will you marry me? I’m a wizard.”“Every man says that.”Something About A Bear begins with a young man (Brant Miller) who claims to be a wizard. Continue Reading

University of Minnesota Senior Fashion Show GIFs, Part 3

On February 16, graduating seniors in the University of Minnesota’s apparel design program showcased their best work in a fashion show. Here are GIFs of four designers’ work, with descriptions from the show program.Mai Yang: “Her collection consists of classic silhouettes and tailoring techniques paired with beautiful fabrics, such as gold brocades and Chantilly lace in order to embody luxury.”Lucie Jane Mulligan: “For this evening collection, Lucie Jane drew inspiration from the Irish coastline, with its hard structured cliffs and smooth flowing waves.”Rika Van Heerde: “This collection was inspired by images that present themselves at first as romantic, feminine and poetic. However, with a lingering look, the haunting details of the images reveal a darker side to the viewer, these images are simultaneously strikingly beautiful and deeply disquieting.”Khampasith Davison: “Khampasith’s senior line focuses on a bridal party inspired by organic forms and their lavishness of artwork, architecture, and interior decorations of the Baroque period.”See other collections from this show: Part 1 and Part 2.Coverage of issues and events affecting Central Corridor communities is funded in part by a grant from the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative. Continue Reading

NEIGHBORHOOD NOTES | Diane Hofstede to hear community views on development in Dinkytown

Voice your opinion about proposed development in Dinkytown at a public forum from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20, at the Varsity Theater, 1308 Fourth Street S.E. in Minneapolis.The public forum, sponsored by the Dinkytown Business Association and Third Ward Council Member Diane Hofstede, will include exhibits on Dinkytown history, music development groups, and a “Save Dinkytown” student group.The event is a reaction to the proposed six-story Opus apartment building along Fifth Street between 13th and 14th avenues.The DBA may propose a local area study to reconsider the city and neighborhood’s long-range plan before the development can proceed.Read Bill Huntzicker’s complete series on development in Dinkytown.Coverage of issues and events affecting Central Corridor communities is funded in part by a grant from the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative. Continue Reading

NEIGHBORHOOD NOTES | Put your rack where your mouth is: Dinkytown Scrabble tournament features cash prizes

Are you a spelling whiz? Try your hand at competitive Scrabble with some people who take the game seriously—or at least competitively.The tournament, called Doobie’s Rubies and Newbies for Polished Gems and Diamonds in the Rough, will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 23, in the gathering space at St. Lawrence Church, 1203 Fifth St. S.E. in Minneapolis.New competitors and curious onlookers can attend for free but about 40 serious competitors have already paid the $25 entry fee for serious players, said Doobie Kurus, the event organizer.They play the game the old-fashioned way, without computers or any technological help. Judges will be the only computer users because they will have to verify whether some entries are legitimate words.Competitive Scrabble players, like serious chess players, use a timer to keep their games moving, Kurus said.When he was a University of Minnesota student, Kurus said he watched Scrabble players meet weekly at the Station 19 restaurant where he worked. Continue Reading