The innovative theater group and gathering spot has been homeless since being forced out of its Cedar-Riverside location several years ago. Its new space, in St. Paul's Lowertown neighborhood, will have its grand opening Saturday. The event features entertainment, tours, and food that runs from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Last week, the hard-working Bedlam crew put the finishing touches on the venue in time for this weekend's grand opening. Bedlam's Alana Horton and Lucas Koski took some time Sunday afternoon to give a tour of the new space. The interior certainly has a new-paint smell, with plenty of inviting spots for people to gather, watch, and perform.
"We look at theater as a way to start conversations," Koski says.
"We want it so you can picture yourself being involved and being onstage," Horton says. "We want creative people to cross pollinate and create a beautiful space. We want to engage and occupy people."
Saturday features a whole day packed with events, from a puppet-making workshop in the afternoon (followed by a performance starring those same puppets) to tours of the Lowertown neighborhood. The evening includes a cabaret from 7 to 9 p.m. with performances by the likes of Four Humors and Dangerous Productions, followed by the bands the Prophets of Peace and the Sex Rays.
Upcoming theatrical work includes The Beast, a new piece by Ryan Underbakke that will tell the tale of a violent land dispute in northern Minnesota; AKA: Fathers/Sons, which looks at relationships among generations of black men; and The Short Town Showoff, a four-day festival that presents plenty of brief works in progress.
Bedlam, which served as Fringe Central for several years at its Minneapolis location, hopes to have a presence in this year's Minnesota Fringe Festival. Later in August, they will host the second annual Big Lowdown. The event takes the audience to locations around Lowertown to check out different pieces. This year, the event will have the Bedlam Theatre location as a home base.
The new venue is, above all, flexible. The stages can be reconfigured for plays, experimental pieces, or bands, while the inviting, open interior can be a gathering place at all hours.
"We're not going to predetermine how we fit in with the neighborhood," Koski says. "We see two major things here. There isn't a space that accommodates more than 50 people and there isn't a place that doesn't have a bar atmosphere after 10 p.m. Both of those things can be expanded and complicated and stretched. This is a blank canvas. After every day, we can change it."
"It feels like a town hall," Horton says.
IF YOU GO:
Bedlam Theatre's Grand Opening
11 a.m.- 2 a.m. Saturday, May 31
213 E. Fourth St., St. Paul
For more information, visit online.