On the Townsend

By John Townsend January 13, 2011

Categories: Arts & Culture, Our Scene


Glengarry Glenn Ross
Through Jan. 29
Theatre Garage
711 W. Franklin Ave., Mpls.
(952) 929-9097

Director David Mann calls playwright David Mamet’s 1982 masterwork “a violent, funny, and painful look at men trying to be men. The subject of manhood comes up repeatedly, often in vitriolic exchanges about a character’s lack of it. In this play, Mamet’s primary purpose is to examine the savage underpinnings of capitalism, greed, and a system that rewards privilege with further opportunity. Along the way, it illuminates the agonizing limitation of conventional male gender roles. These men are forced to define their identities by their ranking on a sales contest board. Only he who achieves the highest sales figure is a man. Because the sales figures continually change, their identities are never secure. Frustration breeds violence, as they wrestle with the truth that, according to these rules, manhood and success can never fully be realized.”

Through Jan. 22
Red Eye Theater
14 W. 15th St., Mpls.
(651) 646-1764

Carl Jung died 50 years ago, but his groundbreaking work with dreams, gender, and folklore still magically reverberates. Director Maggie Scanlan draws from his psychological theories to illuminate one of Shakespeare’s grisliest tragedies.
In her current deconstruction, Scanlan says, “I continue to explore the concepts of the masculine and the feminine in Shakespeare. There are multiple allusions to ‘manliness’ throughout Macbeth, and the concept is connected to everything from being willing to kill for desire to bravery on the battlefield to wisdom and charity. For Shakespeare, the true meaning of manliness is connected to being a human. The play champions balance, and shows the danger of stereotyping and pigeonholing masculinity, thus shoving it into a ghetto filled with murder, treachery, and ‘strange images of death.’”
Two women, Kristin Foster and Andie Olthoff, play the male roles of Banquo and Malcolm.

Out There 2011: New European Performance
Through Jan. 29
Walker Art Center
1750 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.
(612) 375-7600

Berlin is the name of the group, but it’s based in Antwerp, Belgium. Its acclaimed and quirky Bonanza: A Documentary for Five Screens actually was shot in Colorado’s smallest town, Bonanza: population 7. It’s not only a movie on five screens, but also includes a large-scale model of the houses where the citizens gossip, sue, fight, and murder! Screens January 20-22.
Hailing from Paris’s Vivarium Studio, theater-maker Philippe Quesne’s L’Effet de Serge involves so-called “microperformances” in an apartment. It won a special Obie award this past May. Critics have singled it out as a truly mysterious and ineffable piece of work. Screens January 27-29.

Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean
Through Jan. 30
Theatre in the Round
245 Cedar Ave., Mpls.
(612) 333-3010

Director David Coral explains that the characters in Ed Graczyk’s stunning 1976 comedy “have all lived their lives behind a strong facade of some sort, and continue to hide behind that wall of fantasy. Only Joe [Dan Eckman-Thomas], now Joanne [Tina Moroni], realized this many years prior to the play, and had the courage to act to resolve that issue, despite the attitudes of at best, novelty, and at worst, disgust, in the 1970s. Joe/Joanne’s return to her old stomping grounds is her final step in putting the past away to free herself from those chains.”

The Comedy of Errors
Through Jan. 30
Guthrie Theater
818 S. 2nd St., Mpls.
(612) 377-2224

On the surface, this play arguably appears to be William Shakespeare’s frothiest comedy, but it involves a sly commentary on harsh trade policies and the deceptive power of image.
Director Ian Belknap shares, “The confrontations that spring out of mistaken identity are absolutely life and death to the characters when they are happening. And out of that spurs the comedy. These are real situations to these people, and the audience does indeed know there are two sets of twins. They know the secret. It’s a simple, wonderful use of dramatic irony.”
Actor Jamie Smithson crosses the gender line as Nell, the obese kitchen wench described in the text as “spherical, like a globe.”

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