On the Townsend

By John Townsend April 23, 2010

Categories: Arts & Culture, Our Scene

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Execution of Justice
Through Apr. 24
Rarig Center, Univ. of Minn.
330 21st Ave. S., Mpls.
(612) 624-2345
www.theatre.umn.edu

Long before the film Milk, or gay-themed plays like Gross Indecency and The Laramie Project, Emily Mann drew from court transcripts and interviews to create stage drama about the gay-versus-straight divide. The groundbreaking Execution of Justice, in both form and content, is about the trial of Dan White, who assassinated San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978. The play, which won six Obies, and premiered at the Guthrie in 1985, now is revived at the University of Minnesota, where Mann earned her MFA degree.

Twenty Ten Fest
Through Apr. 25
Bedlam Theatre
1501 S. 6th St., Mpls.
(612) 341-1038
www.bedlamtheatre.org

Lots of edgy queer shows run at various times.

Ronnell Wheeler, who wowed us in the 1990s with wonderful takes on race and gayness, is back with A Dry Spell, which involves a weatherman coming to grips (no pun intended) with his ex-lover and cameraman.

Tom Lloyd and Jon Mac Cole codirect Walk.It.Off, a piece whose creative development had actors flirt with each while playing volleyball. Lloyd says, “It turns out most of our characters end up hooking up with a member of the same sex.”

Walken Schweiger’s Gut Wrenched and Rising or This Means You’re Gay Now explores transgender experience in terms of the oppressed and the oppressor through the firsthand experience of the actors themselves.

Jeffry Lusiak dons drag as Puss Puss, along with Scotty Reynolds as Puss Puss’s assistant, in Long Day’s Journey Into Puss.

An equally far-out journey is The Loneliest Astronaut, about a Space Camp for kids. Writer Ben Egerman explains that it deals with “uncertainty around trying to find yourself in society. For several characters, this includes realization about sexuality.”

28th MSP International Film Festival
Through Apr. 30
St. Anthony Main Theatre
115 Main St. SE, Mpls.
www.mnfilmarts.org

Once again, our biggest local film fest offers recently released queer-oriented fare.

In the Sundance hit La Mission (April 25 and 29), Peter Bratt directs his brother, Benjamin, in the role of Che Rivera, a violent street patriarch who learns that his brother leads a secret life, and that his son is gay. The cast includes Jesse Borrego, of Fame TV series fame, who starred in Guthrie’s staging of gay playwright Jean Genet’s The Screens.

The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls (April 28), which spotlights the lesbian folk and comedy duo, broke box-office records in their native New Zealand in 2009. Both are open and out, known for their adored crossgender characters, Ken and Ken.

Xavier Dolan wrote I Killed My Mother (April 27 and 29) when he was 17, and directed it for film when he was 21. This wacky look at gay teen angst won three Cannes jury prizes, as well as Best Canadian Feature at the Vancouver International Film Fest.

Becoming
Through May 2
Dreamland Arts
677 N. Hamline Ave., St. Paul
(651) 645-5506
www.muperformingarts.org

Iris Shiraishi’s one-woman show deals with cultural identity. She employs the Japanese drumming art of Taiko for which she is renowned.

Shiraishi shares that her show is about “coming of age in Hawaii during the 1960s, clashing with my mother’s expectations of me as the ‘nice girl,’ and about how we absorb and pass on to our children the best and worst experiences of our past. There’s also a ritual aspect that deals with my conversion to Judaism.”

Dead Man’s Cell Phone
Through May 2
Park Square Theatre
20 W. 7th Pl., St. Paul
(651) 291-7005
www.parksquarehtheatre.org

Sarah Ruhl is American playwriting’s young shining star under 40. Her quirky humor and magical sensibility bring to mind the magical realism of novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the madcap imagination of Lewis Carroll.

Director Matt Sciple calls Ruhl a “fabulist,” and observes that her 2007 comedy “deals with the alienation of technology, death, the afterlife, and the inability of human beings to know even their closest loved ones. It seems to spring from the deep within the profound logic of dreams. It jumps across continents and into the afterlife.”
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity
Through May 2
Mixed Blood Theatre
1501 S. 4th St., Mpls.
(612) 338-6131
www.mixedblood.com

Black and white unite against brown. The buffest and beefiest show in town is not only the funniest, but also the most subversive. Playwright Kristoffer Dia ingeniously blends the bombastic with the subtle, as he satirizes the racial politics of rehearsed professional wrestling. Think WWF, where flesh-and-blood men are reduced to cartoons come to life. African-American “Champ” Chad Deity (Ansa Akyea) and his conniving white manager, Everett K. Olson (Edwin Strout), finally have weaseled and muscled their way to the top. But they must keep abreast of the times. So, they brainstorm shameless new ways to exploit Latino, South-Asian, and Muslim stereotypes in order to appeal to their not-too-bright white audience. Uproarious sexy fun!

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