270 N. Kent St.
St. Paul, MN 55102
Category: Performing Arts Venues
Region: St. Paul (Downtown)
Every neighborhood, no matter how affluent or impoverished, defines itself in part by shared spaces, those commonly trod grounds where residents can meet for a lengthy conversation or a passing nod. In playwright August Wilson's Two Trains Running, the diner owned by a character named Memphis represents one such location. Set amidst the tumultuous racial unease of 1969 Pittsburgh, the piece recalls a time when urban renewal projects were equated with gentrification, as scores of longtime neighborhood businesses were shuttered or torn down. Facing the wrecking ball, Memphis's diner embodies not just a restaurant, but the latest community institution to be slated for destruction as outside developers scheme to reengineer an entire neighborhood and eradicate landmarks of the past. Directed by Penumbra Theatre Company's founder, Lou Bellamy, the play is an ideal opener for the group's 35th season, reflecting their continuing mission to illuminate the essentialness of community, no matter how diverse or strained. Led by an ensemble cast of Penumbra regulars, the production also furthers the company's ongoing mission of staging Wilson's work as a decade-by-decade chronicle of black American history. For all of its era-specific trappings, however, the radical reshaping of a community will strike a resounding chord with anyone who's ever cherished a neighborhood, despite (or quite possibly because of) its supposed imperfections. (Photo by Ann Marsden)
Wednesdays-Sundays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Sept. 29. Continues through Oct. 30, 2011