Brave New Workshop readies new space with 'Rigged for Laughter'

​The Brave New Workshop begins another era this week when it presents Dudley: Rigged for Laughter at its new downtown Hennepin Avenue location. That production will be followed in November by the premiere of Miracle at 824 Hennepin Ave: Skyway to the Manger Zone, the first revue written specifically for the space.

Dudley: Rigged for Laughter premiered last year at the History Theatre. As the title indicates, it's a look at the life and humor of Brave New Workshop founder Dudley Riggs. The piece was created by Caleb McEwen, BNW owner John Sweeney, and BNW alum Dane Stauffer. McEwen, the artistic director of the company, also directs. The production runs Thursday through October 8.

We caught with the always busy McEwen to talk about the remount.

Why did you choose this show to open the new space?

In the end, there are probably far too many reasons, to go through. The biggest was to honor the man who started all of this in our new space. The workshop has had a number of spaces over the years. Dudley has been a big part of all those moves, and we wanted to start out by remembering how it all began.

One of the reasons we are doing the Dudley show is that it offers us a soft opening, as we have the other show running at the 2605 Hennepin space. It will be ready to open Thursday, but we'll still be working on things behind the scenes that people won't notice. It fits with the tradition of the workshop, and one of the great things about this place: It is nimble and it does adapt. It doesn't fall apart when we have to move or something.

This specific show is also for fans of the Brave New Workshop. We have sold tickets to it, but we have also invited people. This is the next stage, so we've invited a lot of people who have been fans of the theater for years and years.

Have you made any changes since the show premiered at the History Theatre?

We had to make changes for the new space, but I don't think they're things that people will notice. The ending was a timeline, so we updated that to be more up to date.

It is a radically different space than the three-quarter thrust of the History Theatre. It has more of a Brave New Workshop feel to it. It is much more intimate. It lends itself to the pacing and the style of presentation that we have become accustomed to.

How is the new space shaping up? What changes will audiences notice immediately?

It's an overwhelmingly better building. Every aspect is better than the building we were in. There is better seating, more restrooms, a full bar, and convenient parking. It just goes on and on. There's no water running through the ceiling anytime it rains and snows. The old building was an engine shop from the first part of the 20th century, and was never designed to have a theater in it. This is a place not trying to shove a square peg into a round hole like we had before.


Brave New Workshop, Downtown Stage
824 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
7 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
Through October 8

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