Arts Spotlight: 420

By John Townsend June 30, 2011

Categories: Arts & Culture, Our Scene

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God of Carnage — Director John Miller-Stephany harvests the laughs in Yazmina Reza’s 2009 Tony-winner. Two middle-class straight couples play a blame game over a playground altercation between their sons. Bill McCallum and Tracey Maloney portray a corporate couple benefiting from pharmaceutical profiteering. Chris Carlson and Jennifer Blagen contrast them as a socially conscious pair plagued with self-righteousness. Though the actors skate over the Albee-esque savagery beneath the text, they’re hilarious! Through Aug. 7 • Guthrie Theater, 818 S. 2nd St., Mpls. • (612) 377-2224 • www.guthrietheater.org


Waiting for Godot
— Irish playwright Samuel Beckett (1906-1989) captured the world’s overwhelming sense of alienation and disillusionment following World War II, when the Cold War was beginning. The Father of Absurdist Theater, he interpreted a collectively unconscious feeling that humankind was adrift in an essentially godless universe. On Waiting For Godot (1953), Beckett’s most famous play, director Ryan Ripley muses, “As absurd as the characters are, there is something very recognizable in their struggle against meaninglessness.” Through July 23 • Hollywood Theater, 2815 Johnson Ave. NE, Mpls. • (612) 874-9321 • www.theatreprorata.org

Oh, the Humanity and other good intentions — In playwright Will Eno’s world, an overly masculine football coach laments a failed season. An airline spokeswoman is insenstive to crash victims. Members of a dating service open up about deep desires. Actor Christopher Kehoe says, “None of these folks are experts in public relations, so often, what’s coming out of their mouths is something human and tactless.” Natalie Novacek directs Kehoe, Mo Perry, and Matt Sciple, who deliver most of their performances solo. Through July 24 • Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls. • (612) 872-4223 • www.intermediaarts.org

The Cherry Orchard — Anton Chekhov’s last play captures the essence of how Russian aristocracy, and by extension, upper classes throughout Europe, lost their financial and psychological footing roughly a decade before World War I and the Russian Revolution. The National Theater of Great Britain transmits in high definition the acclaimed Zoe Wanamaker as Ranyeskaya, an elitist in denial that her assets are en route to liquidation. Set in 1904, it debuted the same year, just 43 years after Russian serfs were emancipated. July 18 • Guthrie Theater, 818 S. 2nd St., Mpls. • (612) 377-2224 • www.guthrietheater.org

Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and The Camera Since 1870 — This is perhaps the most transgressive and haunting Walker exhibition ever. Right-wingers will shrink from its frank exposure of American militarism and espionage. Lefties will squirm over Yoko Ono’s film Rape, which some will understandably see as the undue harassment of a woman by a woman.

Organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Tate Modern, Exposed boldly challenges notions of privacy and propriety with images that evoke sexuality, institutionalized violence, and seriously questionable surveillance techniques.

A stark example is Surveillance Photgraphs of Militant Suffragettes (1913) from the Criminal Records Office in Great Britain. As if to remind us that surveillance has increased exponentially over the past century, the exhibit contains various other unsettling examples of government intrusion.

Walker patrons become second-person voyeurs. Watch Andy Warhol’s 1964 film Blow Job, then walk a short way to see legendary photos from Vietnam by Eddie Adams and Nick Ut, only a few feet away from harrowing reflections of the darkest moments the Kennedy family endured. All are from the same decade.

Some sexual images are intrusive, some clearly deliberate, with the subject fully aware. Shot below the neck, in gay icon Robert Mapplethorpe’s Man in a Polyester Suit (1980), an uncut penis hangs matter-of-factly outside the zipper.

Man Ray’s sensuous The Transvestite Barbette, Paris (1926), from a series commissioned by Jean Cocteau, documents the illustrious transvestite performer’s illusional process from male to female. Though this photo is no longer scandalous, one senses the transgressive spirit. Indeed, nowadays, the sexual images may be less controversial than other images in Exposed!

Through Sept. 18 • Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave., Mpls. • (612) 375-7600 • www.walkerart.org

All Sparkle, No Heart — Genderbending trio Mad King Thomas stirs up the Walker Art Center/Southern Theater Momentum: New Dance Works 2011 series. Performer Theresa Madaus says this piece “addresses the glamorized construction of femininity, and its relation to power and fame. We’ve been fascinated by the impact of blond celebrities and the replaceable nature of these icons. We’re also working with images ripped from the suffragists. Why are a bunch of chicks in pantaloons on bicycles relevant to today? We’re not sure, but there’s something to be mined in the first-wave feminists, as we staunchly align ourselves with third-wave freedom and choice.” July 14-16 • Southern Theater, 1420 Washington Ave. S., Mpls. • (612) 340-1725 • www.southerntheater.org

Twelfth Night Or What You Will — Randy Reyes and Eric Powell Holm, who have created remarkable queer performance work, codirect William Shakespeare’s 1602 crossgender comedy for The Strange Capers troupe. It’s performed outdoors in one of our great gayborhoods. Reyes explains, “We’ve set the play in a beach town to take full advantage of the natural beauty of Powderhorn Park.” On the content, Holm notes, “It’s about unrequited love, about falling desperately for someone who can never love you back. Shakespeare paints a masterpiece about that unrequited feeling: ‘For me, we would be perfect together, but for you, I’m not even a possibility.’” July 9-31 • Powderhorn Park, 3400 15th Ave. S., Mpls. • www.thestrangecapers.com

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