On the Townsend

By John Townsend September 10, 2010

Categories: Arts & Culture, Our Scene

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Kshoy! Decay!
Through Sept. 12
Southern Theater
1420 Washington Ave. S., Mpls.
(612) 340-0155
www.southerntheater.org
Ananya Chatterjea looms as a choreographer who boldly reveals physical intimacy among women. Touch is central to her aesthetic. She calls her all-female troupe a queer space of women who work in close proximity and full support of each other, emotionally and physically.

As Chatterjea shares, “Touch is flow. I see in society around me in the United States that there is a tremendous fear of same-sex touch. I did not grow up with that fear. Same-sex touch was quite common in India when I was growing up there. For me, it signified flow. It is an essential part of my work.”

Chatterjea, whose latest work casts an unfortunately common travail in new light, observes, “Violence against women is often ‘domesticated’ or ‘privatized’ as one individual assaulting another, and so, it is their problem. I am suggesting that violence is systemic, lodged into all of the structures that govern our history and society. Kshoy! Decay! looks at the way women have struggled through and survived experiences of relocation, dislocation, exile, evacuation, home, and all the things that happen in the name of taking care of them. Think about Haiti—as if losing homes or loved ones wasn’t enough, so many women found their children being taken away from them in the name of ‘saving’ the children.”

Kshoy!Decay! also reflects the plight of women in Liberian refugee camps, Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger movement, and India’s Operation Greenhut.

City of Angels
Through Sept. 19
Bloomington Civic Theatre
1800 W. Old Shakopee Rd., Bloomington
(952) 563-8575
www.bloomingtoncivictheatre.org
1990’s Tony-winning Best Musical shifts between two dimensions: daily reality and cinematic imagination. It captures the time shortly before the McCarthy Era, when film noir’s popularity showed that Americans were ready to peer into the murky underside of their society and economy.

Director Randy Reyes notes, “For the movie world, I wanted my actors to embrace the noir style, without sending it up. And for the ‘real’ world, I really wanted to show the price of fame and money in Hollywood of the 1940s, where people were getting blacklisted because they might be Communist. The lead character, Stine [Carl Schoenborn], ends up sacrificing artistic integrity. He cheats on his wife, lies about it, and loses her. He ends up blacklisted from Hollywood completely, all to get his novel made into a film. That’s pretty dark.”

The Taming of the Shrew
Through Sept. 26
Gremlin Theatre
2400 University Ave. W., St. Paul
(612) 874-9321
www.theatreprorata.org
William Shakespeare’s controversial 1590s comedy was considered misogynist even before Mary Wollstonecraft wrote Vindication for the Rights of Women (1792), the seminal treatise for modern feminism. However, in recent years, some feminist directors have questioned that conclusion.

For instance, Carin Bratlie, director of Gremlin Theatre’s new production, explains, “When you look closely at the text, it’s clear that Kate [Amber Bjork] isn’t tamed by Petruchio [Grant Henderson]’s whip, but rather, she’s liberated by the discovery of her own imagination, and the power of laughter and play. If shrewishness is a rigidity as a result of trying to fit into a world that she doesn’t belong to, the chaos of the play becomes a liberating force. Petruchio’s “shrew-taming” celebrates life, because he is playing—and when Kate joins him on the road to Padua, Shakespeare presents her as cured.”

Always & Forever

Through Oct. 3
Illusion Theater
528 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.
(612) 339-4944
www.illusiontheater.org

I was an adolescent in the 1970s, so The Beatles—a 1960s phenomenon—were not the sound track to my angst. But “soul” music was. Therefore, when three singer-actor greats revive a revue of that sound, along with a gifted teen, Jackson Hurst, I’m swept away. The vets—T. Mychael Rambo, Dennis Spears, and Julius Collins III—splendidly render tunes like “Betcha By Golly Wow”; “Me and Mrs. Jones”; and “Have You Seen Her.” Music director Sanford Moore and director Richard Thompson shape an atmosphere of dreamy romance in an ordinary barbershop setting.

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