The Year in Theater

The Greeks, the geeks, the freaks, the dualistic representations of the Argentine distaff underclass--all the best of Twin Cities drama circa 2005

Bob Malos, actor

I saw Radio Golf by August Wilson this past summer in Los Angeles. It featured our own James A. Williams, and I had a chance to sit down with James and the cast after the show. It was a thrill to see the last play in the cycle and actually know somebody in the cast. I was truly honored. Then about a week later came the announcement of Wilson's terminal cancer. What a privilege it was to see his final work and meet the extraordinary artists who brought it to life. His poetry will live on forever.

 

 

Sonja Parks, actor

My most memorable theater event of 2005 ran for over seven decades, played to hundreds of adoring fans, and ended in a triumphant crescendo that had every person in the room wishing they could see it just one more time. My most memorable event was the life of Kathryn Gagnon. Kathi, who died of liver cancer, was a Twin Cities institution. An incredible performer, accomplished singer, teacher, published writer, and true Renaissance woman, Kathi reminded me that it is absolutely essential to get the most out of this life. And even actors (who are notoriously catty in their critiques of each other) are still shouting, "Bravo, Miss Kathi! Bravo!"

 

Leah Cooper, executive director, Minnesota Fringe

For Five Fifths of the Godfather, five companies each took a section of the Mario Puzo classic and deconstructed at will. Skewed Visions abandoned both plot and stage; Ministry of Cultural Warfare translated it to partisan politics using hand puppets on film; Third Rabbit Dance Ensemble made choreography of Sicilian courtship; Rogue Theatre did Shakespearean verse, swinging swords instead of revolvers; and, for the stunning finale, Nautilus Music-Theater turned the climactic gunfight and simultaneous baptism into original opera led by Bradley Greenwald and Gary Briggle, complete with a chorus of 25 of the best voices in town. Crazy concept. Beautiful theater.

 

 

Dominique Serrand, Theatre de la Jeune Lune

Certainly the strangest and most astonishing theatrical event I was a part of took place on June 5. I'm backstage at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, with my career-long colleagues Barbra Berlovitz, Bob Rosen, Steve Epp, and Vincent Gracieux. Sally Field is slumped in a chair to one side of us, preparing to hand a lifetime achievement award to Edward Albee, who is irritatedly playing with his hearing aid and bitching that the last time I did one of his plays was when I was 18. Kate Burton is pronouncing "Jeune Lune" very beautifully. And suddenly we are onstage, receiving the Tony Award as Outstanding Regional Theatre. A truly wondrous occasion. We dedicate this award to all artists who fight to create and embrace the power and freedom of their imagination.

The other remarkable moments for me in the theater were, as always, those of remarkable performance. Jennifer Peden in Arion at the Fringe, Macbeth at the Guthrie Lab, Steve Epp in our production of The Miser at La Jolla Playhouse, Christina Baldwin in our production of Carmen at the American Repertory Theatre. Performances that are so truly stunning that you come away reenergized and proud to be a part of the theater.

Jack Reuler, artistic director, Mixed Blood Theatre

Last May Mixed Blood produced Found, an original musical set in Colombia and performed both in Spanish and English. At the end of the curtain call of a performance with several hundred Spanish-speaking audience members, a patron jumped to the stage to loudly protest the terrorist tactics of the revolutionary group FARC in Colombia. Theater provoked!

And: During the first act of a performance of the Guthrie's His Girl Friday, Carl Kenzler (playing Angela Basset's love interest, Bruce Baldwin) was hurt. In the second act, Bill McCallum, who had been playing another role in Act 1, came on as Bruce Baldwin, and Nat Fuller came on as Schwartz. The audience gulped, accepted, and the show went on.

 

Susan Haas and Michael Sommers, Open Eye Figure Theater

We witnessed the power of theater for strengthening community as we spent our third summer performing the Driveway Tour in backyards, parks, and libraries as neighbors gathered to partake of a colorful, crazy puppet show. No matter the neighborhood, the work was truly appreciated; the arts are a necessity for everyone. Now we are building our own theater with eyes opened to the lessons this new space will teach us.

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