Twin Cities Book Festival
October 13 • Historic Progress Center

Kate Bornstein • photo: Rob Casey

The magnificent Twin Cities Book Festival will return for the 12th time on October 13. This year the fest will celebrate a new venue capable of holding its vast collection of authors and books: the Historic Progress Center at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Local literary organizations will exhibit their wares, booksellers will sell books both new and used, readers will enjoy the Children's Pavilion, and novelists, poets, editors, comic creators, and historians of both sweepingly broad and intensely personal flavors of history will gather to read, sign, and discuss literature in all its wildly diverse forms. This year's author lineup includes Kate Bornstein, Chris Ware, Mark Z. Danielewski, and Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, legendary editors of The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories. Sponsored by Rain Taxi. Free. Historic Progress Center, 1265 N. Snelling Ave., St. Paul; —William Alexander

Emory Allen

Jane Yolen
October 23 • Magers & Quinn

photo: Jason Stemple

Jane Yolen will be exploring poetry and family history at Magers & Quinn on October 23. Yolen is the author of more than 300 books, including works of poetry, picture books, novels for children and adults, and collections of folklore and folklore-inspired fiction. Yolen has also won a roomful of awards, including two Nebulas, a World Fantasy Award, a Caldecott, the Golden Kite Award, three Mythopoetic awards, two Christopher Medals, the Jewish Book Award, the Regina Medal, the Kerlan Award, and the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. Her most recent book is Ekaterinoslav: One Family's Passage to America: A Memoir in Verse. Oct 23. Free. Magers & Quinn Booksellers, 3038 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.822.4611. —William Alexander


Company Theater Latte Da
October 25–November 18

Dieter Bierbrauer plays Bobby • photo: Tom Sandelands

Theater Latte Da opens its 15th season by returning to one of the quintessential American composers and lyricists. Stephen Sondheim's landmark Company, in 1970, heralded his rise to the top of the musical-theater game, with its engaging music, clever lyrics, and adult storytelling (oh, and "The Ladies Who Lunch" as well). Sondheim — along with book writer George Furth — delved deep into the idea of relationships in the piece, which centers on Bobby, a single man on his 35th birthday. His married friends, who embody all that is good and bad about long-term companions, surround him. Then there are the songs, which also include "Side by Side" and "Another Hundred People." Dieter Bierbrauer takes on the role of Bobby, following his turn in Xanadu at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres this summer. Bierbrauer is a veteran of Latte Da's stage as well, having appeared in Floyd Collins, Violet, and A Christmas Carole Petersen. $29-$44. Ordway Center, 345 Washington St., St. Paul; 651.224.4222. —Ed Huyck

In the Next Room Jungle Theater
November 2–December 16

Christina Baldwin as Catherine Givings • photo: Drew Trampe

Sarah Rasmussen directs the 2010 Tony nominee from Sarah Ruhl. Subtitled "the vibrator play," Ruhl's tale takes place in the stuffy drawing rooms of Victorian-era New York. The dawn of electricity has not only brought the light bulb to the cities but given doctors treating women's "hysteria" a new tool to use. Rasmussen's long list of credits features several productions at Mixed Blood, including Crashing the Party, a delightfully profane comedy from earlier this year. The cast includes Christina Baldwin, Anna Enneking, Emily Gunyou Halaas, Bradley Greenwald, and John Middleton. $20-$38. Jungle Theater, 2951 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.822.7063. —Ed Huyck

Measure for Measure Ten Thousand Things
September 27–October 21

Suzanne Warmanen as the Duke • photo: Peter Vitale

Ten Thousand Things comes full circle with Measure for Measure, which was the first Shakespeare production by the company, 14 years ago. Director Michelle Hensley's vibrant interpretations of the Bard have been hits since then, even serving as an inspiration for the Public Theater in New York's co-production in 2010. Hensley is joined by a veteran company, including Luverne Seifert, Sonja Parks, Suzanne Warmanen, India Gurley, Nathan Barlow, Karen Wiese-Thompson, Zach Curtis, and Kurt Kwan. In the play, a duke puts another in charge of the kingdom and then goes about in disguise to see how the replacement does. As always with the company, the production will tour prisons, homeless shelters, community centers, and other locations to reach nontraditional audiences. Four weekends of public performances at Open Book are also part of the run, which expands to Thursday evenings this year to meet demand. $15-$25. Open Book, 1011 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis; 800.838.3006. —Ed Huyck

Next to Normal Mixed Blood Theatre
October 4–November 11

Aditi Kapil and Thomas Jones II • photo: Ann Marsden

Mixed Blood Theatre continues its efforts to broaden audiences beyond traditional theater-goers in the second year of "radical hospitality," in which a portion of every performance's tickets are available free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. The opening show of the 37th season also showcases Mixed Blood's key artistic mission of exploring the lives and experiences of people outside the "center." In the case of Next to Normal, the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, that person is Diana, a woman battling a bipolar disorder. Throughout the tough, rock-based show, we watch Diana try to cope with the demons in her own mind and see the damage it does to her family. Mixed Blood has brought Broadway down to its scale before — witness last year's terrific Avenue Q — and the top-notch cast, led by Aditi Kapil, Thomas Jones II, and Regina Marie Williams could easily do the same here. The show will also be part of the company's second Center of the Margins festival, which includes staged readings of four new works about disability and a production of Theory of Mind. Free, first come, first served ($20 to reserve tickets online). Mixed Blood Theatre, 1501 S. 45th St., Minneapolis; 612.338.6131. —Ed Huyck

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