On the Townsend

By John Townsend November 18, 2010

Categories: Arts & Culture, Our Scene

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The Crowd You’re in With
Through Nov. 20
People’s Center
425 20th Ave. S., Mpls.
(612) 375-0600
www.walkingshadowcompany.org

Playwright Rebecca Gilman is an original and scathing observer of today’s besieged middle class. She ruthlessly has examined racial correctness and her own white female privilege in Spinning Into Butter, and the way economics affects our sexual expression and capacity to love in Dollhouse. With The Crowd You’re in With, she muses on concerns over having kids in our period of economic collapse and upheaval. It was a hit last year at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. Walking Shadow premieres it here.

’Tis Pity She’s a Whore
Through Nov. 20
Walker Community Church
3104 16th Ave. S., Mpls.
www.classicalactorsensemble.org

In the early 1630s, during the reign of King Charles I, English theater had become grisly and quite sexual. This fueled the righteous Puritans, who would behead him in 1649, and replace the monarchy with a republic. John Ford’s 1630s tragedy, ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore, was a highly-controversial work in that time.

Director Joseph Papke notes, “Ironically, physical incest may be the purest love in the play. Ford writes about a society with double standards for men and women, but ultimately leaves it up to the audience to decide who is right and who is wrong in a play full of moral and ethical ambiguity.”

Today’s puritans would call it “moral relativism.” Of course, they are much less bothered by violence.

Unspeakable Things: The Wandrei Brothers Project
Through Nov. 20
Red Eye Theater
15 W. 14th St., Mpls.
(612) 554-1302
www.sandboxtheatreonline.com

Sandbox’s new collaboration reflects on St. Paul’s Donald and Howard Wandrei, pioneers in science fiction and fantasy in the 1930s and 1940s.

Artistic Director Ryan Hill says Unspeakable Things “is about the inability to confront your fears. Fear, and your ability to address it, is a constant pressure on marginalized communities. For example, gay suicides aren’t cause by embarrassment. They’re caused by fear—incomprehensible terror that cannot be reasoned, subdued, or healed. The plight of our main character, Donald Wandrei [John Middleton], shows what happens if you live with that type of fear—when you let it run your life.”

Minneapolis Underground Film Festival
Dec. 3-5
Minneapolis College of Art and Design
2501 Stevens Ave. S., Mpls.
www.minneapolisundergroundfilmfestival.com

You can bet the farm that Festival Director Greg Yolen will have a provocative slate of indies. So, it’s no surprise that gay filmmakers Jaime Carrera and Tyler Jensen are on board. Their shorts Parade and Passing are part of Minneapolis Project 2010, a panorama of local short films.

In Passing, transgender actor Sinan Goknur plays The Mechanic. Carrera shares, “This particular character struggles with the perception of himself he sees in others, but ultimately decides to exude genuineness by living life truthfully.”

Yolen presents his own new film, Macumba, about a couple drawn into black magic in Costa Rica. Political activists: Heed the documentary Speaker’s Corner. Other films to consider: Abide, The Hunting Buddies, Victory Square, and Vixen Highway.

Robin Hood
Through Dec. 5
Children’s Theatre Company
2400 3rd Ave. S., Mpls.
(612) 874-0400
www.childrenstheatre.org

Adapter/Director Greg Banks’s gloriously gritty ensemble crackles with impeccable timing, crossdressing mischief, and beefy biceps.

Mary Anna Culligan’s costumes have a present-day homeless look that evokes a disturbing contemporary equivalency with the story’s Medieval feudal rich terrorizing the starving poor. Ted Sharon’s lyrical stage combat direction is enhanced by Joseph Stanley’s Sherwood Forest set, which evokes a menacing ambience. Victor Zupanc’s rustic music fits the rural setting perfectly.

Dynamic Dean Holt dazzles as Robin Hood. Anna Sundberg endears as Maid Marian. Julian McFaul as The Sheriff relishes his sadistic power lust—the type that mutilates people. Reed Sigmund is hilariously camp as decadent Prince John.

It’s one marvelous, terrific show!

An Embarrassment of Riches: Picturing Global Wealth
Through Jan. 2
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
2400 3rd Ave. S., Mpls.
(612) 870-3000
www.artsmia.org

As you enter this seemingly low-key photo exhibit, you read: “The past decade has witnessed unprecedented growth of global riches.” So, you might expect images of those recently mowed down by the global economy. Instead, you see recent reflections of prosperity. The Marxist maxim that wealth should be redistributed downward to the masses shifts into reverse here. Such redistribution actually has occurred upward.

The first photo as you walk in is Edward Burtynksy’s Oil Fields #22. A sleek pipeline purposely snakes its way into the green Alberta landscape. Nature is secondary and passive. The phallic wealth organ is primary and vigorous.

As you may anticipate, the exhibit includes obligatory decadent images: photos of hip young people (mostly attractive men) in a Frankfurt night club; narcissistic LA Valley Girls sipping Buds; and a bulldog sitting contently in an antique chair. But curator David Little deliberately seems to have overshadowed them with deeper comments within other photos.

Those comments include Luc Delahaye’s A Lunch at the Belvedere. In a grouping that eerily echoes Leonard da Vinci’s The Last Supper, 11 businessmen and a woman interact at a conference table at the fabled Davos, Switzerland, hotel for the World Economic Forum. Has economics unseated religion?

Sze Tsung Leong’s forlorn Suzhou Creek, Putuo District, Shanghai, the only work that forthrightly laments the global economic shift, has decrepit, once-gorgeous buildings in the foreground, as nondescript, sterile ones rise with uniformity beyond.

Tina Barney’s The Orchids features two men in a room with antiques. We wonder: What is their relationship to each other? Relatives, business partners, or life partners?

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