Before each artist performed, we went to the front of the stage where there was this sacred well. We placed rose petals into the well; that action meant crossing the threshold into this discussion of freedom. It was our passage into performance. At the end of the evening, U Sam led us all together to this well and he began to read his poem for freedom for Cambodia. We reached into the well and took out rose petals and reached up with this offering to the sky, sending all of our voices together to the universe.
Neal Patel's exquisite set for Thunder Knocking at the Door at the Guthrie was elegant, clean-lined, mythical. It supported the play while at the same time somehow adding resonance to it. Also, Marion McClinton's sharp, precise direction of Keith Glover's play. Just a stellar production. And Larissa Kokernot's luminous performance as Lil' Bit in Eye of the Storm's How I Learned to Drive.
I truly enjoyed Cyrano and Dominique Serrand's performance in particular. Other actors who have played that role have clobbered us with Cyrano's gallantry and bravery and valor. But Serrand's playing him as a clown seemed so true to me--a man who would act the buffoon in order to keep anyone from laughing at him. Nuanced and beautiful.
My favorite moment this year was the Street of Crocodiles piece that Theatre de Complicite did. It was amazing to me that the organizations involved--the Walker, the Guthrie, and Jeune Lune--were able to act quickly to get it here. I marveled at the experience of having my need for narrative and logic as an audience member be wiped away. I felt my brain sort of release that and go into a place where image and text and sound could wash over me and start to mean 20 different things at once. I found it a really stirring experience, and I was happy to see so many other people there enjoying it as well. Nonnarrative theater is alive and well.
Dean J. Seal, Bryant-Lake Bowl and the Fringe Festival, programmer
Outside of the Bowl and the Fringe, my favorite production was Titus Andronicus by Joel Sass. It was a sight--gory and fabulous. The Venetian Twins had something I loved and something I hated. I loved the commedia dell'arte and that connection with the Minnesota lingo--it's a wonderful way to communicate that tradition. But what's with all the Negro servants? I didn't understand that at all.
My least favorite moment was losing the old Jungle as a venue. It would have been great to have that theater available in town. But I'm very excited about the new Patrick's Cabaret space.
Bruce Abas, Ebullient Theatre, playwright and actor
I'd like to congratulate a number of theaters that are giving local writers a break. Four productions really impressed me this year: Conversations About Hannah at the History Theatre by Ann Schulman; Disturbed by the Wind at Hidden Theatre by the very talented David Schulner; Project 891, a very promising script by Joyce Turiskylie; and more recently Notes on the Uncertainty Principle by Todd Irvine. These were great local theaters and well-packed productions. I want to encourage the bigger theaters to follow suit.
I want to point out a new trend I think is great: site-specific theater. It's something the Twin Cities have been waiting to get and we got it this year. Skewed Visions, a very promising theater company, produced a show in a warehouse, called Untitled #1, about the atrocities of war. Another production, which I don't think anybody saw, was called Garbage/The City/and Death by Werner Fassbinder, produced at the Soap Factory by John Troyer.