The year has gone fast for Maren Ward, Bedlam's "master of ceremonies" (a.k.a. performing director). "It still feels like we just moved in there," she says. "All of the diverse, eclectic things that have happened are pretty exciting."
Besides presenting live music events and shows like Beaverdance, KABOOM!, and the most recent Space Girl, Bedlam has also expanded its new work development program, called Short Town, and hosted community events.
"I think a lot of the driving impulse was to create a space that was accessible and high profile," Ward says. "We wanted to get large audiences from all over to see the radical work that happens at Bedlam, and connect with a neighborhood that has a long history of arts and activism." To Lowertown, Bedlam brought its artists-as-community-developers experience, creating a space "that was in conversation with the neighborhood," says Ward.
One of the most exciting things that has happened is that regular customers, people who live or work in Lowertown and stop in for a drink, will check out what is happening onstage and become invested in the show and how Bedlam is doing. Ward says some locals will ask how the audience was the night before, for example. "That says so much about what the intention was about having a bar in the room," she says.
While Bedlam also had a bar at the old space, the performing space and the bar area were separated by a curtain. At Bedlam Lowertown, there's no separation, which can be a challenge. "It's an exercise of figuring out what works artistically, making theater that can grab attention in an over-saturated situation," Ward says. Regardless, Bedlam Lowertown is all about "inviting theater-making that is happening as other things are happening."
Construction is complete for the most part, though not fully paid for. "We are still in a pretty big fundraising stage to recoup our investment on the space itself," she says. Now Bedlam is looking for ways to grow the restaurant, including some additional kitchen remodeling and equipment, and a few finishing touches like the bathroom in the basement.
Bedlam Lowertown's Birthday Party starts early on Saturday, May 30, at 9 a.m. There will be $6 bloody Marys and mimosas for breakfast during the farmers market, plus live music.
At 7 p.m. Bedlam will host a member/donor/volunteer pre-party, followed by a ROMP! cabaret at 9 p.m. (doors at 8 p.m.). The performance will offer an eclectic bill of performers, and a 10-minute version of Return of the Jedi. After the show, DJ Shannon Blowtorch will be getting the dance party started and going until 2 a.m.
Admission is $5.
213 E. Fourth St., St. Paul