Here Comes the Sun

Help! I'm trapped inside a giant ant! Are you wearing clothes underneath that kale? What's that baby doing in the birthday cake? Tales of myth and magic from Minneapolis's May Day parade.

--Roy McBride


As the theater has matured, the funders in town are no longer like, "Hmmm...are they going to make it next year or aren't they?" We've asked for various program grants, and we've done what we said we'd do when we said we'd do it. All those things build confidence from funders.

Gayla Ellis

--Kathee Foran


Money has changed everything, as far as I'm concerned. It's an institution now. When it started, it was purely a vision. Then, there was HOTB, and everybody did everything. Which in some ways was really crazy. But now there's bosses and people who work for them.

--Esther Ouray


Really if there has to be one thing that changes everything, it's that: Pay. If you're going to start earning wages, then the decisions about work change. Do you take on certain work for its financial advantages, do you write grants, can you continue to do the free work? Is your work your passion or your job? We're always in the midst of this balancing discussion.

--Sandy Spieler


21. The City of Lost Children

It's not like there's not other venues for puppetry. Twenty-five years ago there weren't. But I understand that there are now seven puppet theaters in the Powderhorn, Phillips, and Whittier neighborhoods. And many of those people work with Heart of the Beast or come in for May Day.

--Dan Newman


The parade moved me so deeply that I went and volunteered. I very quickly learned their techniques--it's all low-tech and high magic--and I started my own puppet company, called Dreaming Crow. Heart of the Beast has had many children and offshoots, and I'm one of them. Still, they don't seem to be very interested in us. That's really strange to me. Because to bring that in--all this fresh blood--would be incredible. I just want them to thrive.

--Dhann Polnau


Different people need things at different times. Sometimes I too have ideas that aren't followed. In a company of people that has so many different voices, not all of them can be put out there equally at all times. I just think it's great for people to come and go, and to come back again and go again.

--Sandy Spieler


22. The Visible Child

The staff was comprised of a bunch of hippies doing their thing, which was a great thing. But visualizing community is not really seeing it or seeing what needs to be done. The outreach program has become more aggressive. I really like the Lake Street Theatre Club Art Bus program, where we hire teenagers through the city of Minneapolis's summer jobs program and Heart of the Beast. They're paid to make puppets and make a show and tour it around to community centers and parks. Then the teenagers become mentors to younger children.

--Elisha Whittington, staff artist, 1991 to present


I started coming here about six years ago. I must've been around nine or ten. My best friend Jonah got me into it. And then I got into it sort of on my own: I've been in one of their plays here. Now I'm a mentor. When I first started, it was kinda hard getting out in front of people, acting. But I like this better than normal acting, because you can wear a mask and hide your face and just do crazy stuff and they won't know it's you, and you won't be embarrassed or anything. Last year I did a big ant puppet, on stilts--you had to wear stilts on your arms and legs. I didn't make the head, but I painted it and made the tail. That was probably my favorite one to wear. It messed up your back, but it was pretty fun.

--Ramon Cordes, volunteer and Art Bus participant


I think I was in eighth grade when I did the May Day parade. I heard about it from a friend of my mom's. She recommended that we go check out the workshops--we live about five blocks from there. So we went and I just started doing it. I was a frog. During the summer after ninth grade, I was with Art Bus. It gave me a lot of confidence, because we did a lot of body work and voice projection. You learn to appreciate just anything you do. Because art is pretty much what you see.

--Choua Vang, age 16, volunteer


23. Returning

May Day is, I think, the best thing the theater does. Because it's on instinct. It breaks down a lot of the theater's...professionalism. It gets on people's nerves--so messy, so loud, so chaotic. It goes back to the basic premise of the theater: You can have somebody who's a craftsperson and then there's an eight-year-old, and they're both making dogs. And they're both in the parade. I hate that word "community"--but you get the idea.

--Alison Heimstead, volunteer since 1989, current staff artist


24. The Beginning in the End

It's getting very big, in my opinion, May Day. More and more people come who don't know what it is. That changes things. It begins to water down the emotional content of the Sun return ceremony. People don't know that the Sun's going to come from over there, so they're wandering around kind of aimlessly talking, and there's a certain degrading of the atmosphere. My solution would be to say, "Go make your own May Day." Don't come here and just make this one bigger and bigger, because eventually you're going to lose what it is you're trying to save. But that's not a majority opinion around here.

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