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Dark beers from local breweries, Hamlet played by a chicken: A-List 12.19

'Hamlet, but Hamlet's a Chicken'

'Hamlet, but Hamlet's a Chicken' Upper Boundary Photography

Check out all the great things happening this week.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

WEDNESDAY 12.19

Darkest Day Celebration
Uptown Tavern & Rooftop

Hazy beers might be all the rage, but pitch-black beers are just as cool. With Winter Solstice upon us, it’s time to appreciate dark-hued pints one beer at a time. This annual celebration emphasizes imperial stouts and porters, but it’s not just for beer drinkers and sun-haters, as a number of specialty bourbons will also be served. With 30 dedicated tap lines, expect a lot of heavy, boozy beers, including cellared Bourbon County, plus local favorites like Darkness, Silhouette, Rum King, Whiskey War & Peace, and Gravity Well. Need something heavier? Bourbons from Pappy Van Winkle and Buffalo Trace are also available. Sunset is at 4:33. Embrace the darkness. 3 p.m. to midnight. Free. 1400 Lagoon Ave., Minneapolis; 612-824-3333. —Loren Green

Indeed We Can
Indeed Brewing Company

Celebrate the approaching Winter Solstice and support In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre in one fell swoop. On Wednesday, the company will be holding court at Indeed Brewing Company, where folks can try their hand at making a lantern during the afternoon and early evening, and catch a zany new puppet show by Steve Ackerman and his merry band later (9:30 p.m.). The performance—which features former Bedlam darlings Maren Ward and Jon Mac Cole, plus music by Joseph Evans—involves a society of mountain creatures and a cyclops. There are no tickets for the event, but each beer (or root beer) sold will go toward helping out HOBT. So bring a friend, get your photo taken in the puppet photobooth, and make sure one of the Twin Cities’ most beloved organizations sails into the new year with a healthy budget. 3 to 11 p.m. Free. 711 15th Ave. NE, Minneapolis; 612-843-5090. —Sheila Regan

Jackie Kashian
Acme Comedy Co.

“I do some political material, only because I’m alive and walking around,” comedian Jackie Kashian explains. “But I mostly talk about being a middle-aged white lady. I talk about being married and I talk about my family, who continue to be part of my sets. I’ve got some great new stories about my dad.” Those familiar with Kashian’s work and backstory know a lot about her father. “He’s hilarious, always,” she says. He’ll often ask his daughter why she doesn’t do more material about her siblings. “Because you keep talking. It’s not my fault.” As a salesman, Kashian’s father hung out with some rather shady characters in the past and, as it turns out, the present. “He loves a dirtbag,” she adds. One such nefarious friend passed away earlier this year. “He was one of the worst people I ever met,” she notes, “and I told him, ‘I’m glad the dirtbags in your life are dying.’ He said, ‘I know younger dirtbags.’ So he’s going to hang out with younger dirtbags; a new generation of scumbags he can bond with.” 18+. 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $15-$18. 708 N. First St., Minneapolis; 612-338-6393. Through Saturday —P.F. Wilson

Ajo Naa

Ajo Naa

THURSDAY 12.20

Khephra: A Hip-Hop Holiday Story
Howard Conn Fine Arts Center

In Khephra: A Hip-Hop Holiday Story, writer and performer Shá Cage channels a young girl who makes her journey from Africa to the United States after her father passes away. Encountering an entirely new culture in the U.S., Khephra learns about herself in a story that weaves together music, dance, puppetry, verse, and storytelling. It’s also a holiday tale, with opportunities for the audience to join in singing carols. The show is directed by e.g. bailey, and features performer Destiny Anderson along with sound and music team Truthmaze (percussion), Rico Mendez (sound), and Jamela Pettiford (vocalist). This 55-minute production will bring a smile to your face. Find tickets at khephra.brownpapertickets.com. 6 and 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. $15/$18 at the door; $10 kids. 1900 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis; 612-871-7400. Through Sunday—Sheila Regan

Hamlet, But Hamlet’s a Chicken
Minnsky Theatre

In the illustrious history of theater, many talented thespians have taken on the coveted role of Hamlet, Shakespeare’s tragic prince. Now the part will be played by a chicken. This production, from irreverent upstarts Grand Island Theatre, was one of the standout shows of the 2018 Minnesota Fringe Festival. Undoubtedly the title alone drew out curiosity seekers looking to confirm that Hamlet is, in fact, played by a live chicken. Those who would dismiss the endeavor as merely a gimmick, however, will find that the concept runs deeper than silly superficialities. Slashing the dialogue to a minimalist extreme, placing the action in bizarre settings, and littering the stage with ridiculous product placement are just some of the absurdist flourishes used to warp the work. The entire enterprise takes the Bard’s tragedy and reframes it through the disorienting lens of Dadaism. With so many theater companies having made a sport of refashioning Hamlet with modern conventions, Grand Island Theatre satirizes such efforts by pushing this presentation to sublimely ridiculous heights. 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; 1:30 p.m. Saturday. $12-$25/$15-$30 at the door. 1517 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis; 612-930-1517. Through Saturday —Brad Richason

A Stocking Full of Awesome VIII: The Knife Before Christmas
Lab Theater

While there are lots of holiday traditions out there, most people would agree that tossing blades is an unusual way to observe the Yuletide. The exception to this rule would be the guys from Danger Committee. Consisting of ace knife thrower Reynaldo (Caleb McEwen) and world-class jugglers Bald Guy and Other One (Mick Lunzer and Jason LeMay), the daring trio will celebrate the season with A Stocking Full of Awesome VIII: The Knife before Christmas. As in previous versions of this popular holiday show, the Danger Committee alternates between comedy and cringe-inducing stunts, creating edge-of-your seat entertainment that will have audiences laughing between gasps. Whether lobbing swords or axes, the trio displays coordination as finely honed as the razor-sharp objects they pitch across the stage. And they do it all with ease, exhibiting the precision and timing needed to seize a sparking stun gun or land a disarming joke. 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, plus New Year’s Eve; 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. $30-$45. 700 N. First St., Minneapolis; 612-333-7977. Through January 5 —Brad Richason

Brewmastermus
Insight Brewing

What’s a Brewmastermus? It’s something like Christmas, Festivus, and a bake sale all in one. Cookie masters T-Rex will be at the brewery selling their handiwork, and Insight is serving four different beers made with actual cookies from the company. Cask tapping will begin at 6 p.m., proving that two good-on-their-own ingredients can be even better when they team up. Are cookie beers the next big thing? Possibly. Amid the revelry, the brewery will also host Too Many Banjos, featuring local musicians Marc Gartman, Dave Carroll (Trampled By Turtles), Jillian Rae, and Steve Garrington. In the spirit of Festivus, there will be organized feats of strength and an airing of grievances as well. 6 to 10 p.m. Free. 2821 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-722-7222. —Loren Green

Amir K
Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy

Amir K arrived in America with his family when he was five years old. “We moved because of the Iran-Iraq war,” he explains. “We had to leave in a hurry, and we pretty much left everything behind to come here and start over. We had no money and wound up in Orange County, California.” He says that impresses people, who often respond with a query: “By the beach?” “No, by the freeway. We lived in a tiny apartment,” he responds. His parents soon divorced, and his father eventually moved back to Iran. “It was tough at the beginning, but we got acclimated and Americanized, and here we are. I often think about how different my life would be had we stayed in Iran. What would I do for a living? There’s no standup comedy there.” Like many comics, Amir was drawn to comedy as a way to fit in and make friends. That can be seen in his act today. “I like to get silly and talk about observational things,” he says. “But I’m performing in a lot of places I’ve never been to before, and I want people to get to know me and who I am.” That means a lot of stories complete with characters and voices. “That’s partially because, to learn English, I basically mimicked people in my neighborhood.” 16+. 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 9:45 p.m. Friday; 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 9:30 p.m. Saturday. $16-$23. 408 E. Broadway, Mall of America, Bloomington; 952-858-8558. Through Sunday —P.F. Wilson

'Die Hard'

'Die Hard'

FRIDAY 12.21

Midnight Madness: Die Hard
Landmark’s Uptown Theatre

When Die Hard was released in 1988, film critics weren’t that into it. Roger Ebert even ranted that the police chief “successfully undermines the last half of the movie.” But 30 years later, the film is considered by many to be a holiday masterpiece for those who like their Christmas served with a side of carnage, shattered glass, and explosions. Bruce Willis is John McClane, an NYPD detective in L.A. for the holidays in hopes of getting back together with his wife. That plan takes a back seat when a bunch of German terrorists (led by Alan Rickman, working through a questionable accent) decide to take people hostage during an office Christmas party. McClane has to take them down, find a way to alert the LAPD, and re-woo his wife. This is cinema at its most ridiculous, and it’s glorious. Screenings are at 11:55 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $9. 2906 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-823-3005. Also Saturday —Jessica Armbruster

Winter Solstice Celebration
American Swedish Institute

The American Swedish Institute’s Winter Solstice Celebration is a tribute to an astronomical occurrence that connects our contemporary world to ancient rituals. There will be camaraderie around a roaring bonfire, a sampling of small plates of specially prepared Scandinavian cuisine, and toasting with heady glasses of glögg. Those in need of a warm-up can also take advantage of having full admission to the museum, which will have extended hours to accommodate the occasion. Among the many highlights, visitors will encounter “Handmade Holidays,” a seasonal exhibit featuring immersive period rooms stocked with craftwork representing an array of Nordic cultures, including a special focus on the evolving customs of Czech Americans. 5 to 9 p.m. Free with museum admission. 2600 Park Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-871-4907. —Brad Richason

Fight Night: Decked Halls Edition
Phoenix Theater

There’s nothing that says “happy holidays” like a good, old-fashioned death match. But before your racist uncle and your hippie sister-in-law throw hands under the Christmas tree, you can catch Theatre Coup d’Etat’s Fight Night, making its triumphant return to the Phoenix Theater. It’s a variety show of the bloodiest kind, with characters like Darth Vader and Miley Cyrus going to battle with political figures, celebs, and maybe even a holiday icon or two. They’ll bring sticks, stones, and very mean words to the stage with the goal of being crowned the festive fight club champ. In between bouts there will be audience games and plenty of booze to go around, making this equal parts holiday party, theater performance, and Roman colosseum. 10:30 p.m. $10-$20 sliding scale. 2605 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-377-2285. —Patrick Strait

Night Block: Winter Solstice Celebration
Day Block Brewing Company

Winter Solstice is ushered in with darkness—not just as the longest night of the year, but also with brewpubs using it as an excuse to celebrate dark beers. Day Block in downtown Minneapolis will start their festivities early and drink into the dark night. Go with the candy cane porter, a beer that’s definitely in the holiday spirit, or try one of the more decadent-sounding brews, such as the imperial milk stout, the mocha stout, or the raspberry stout. Six new pints in total will keep you warm and fuzzy through the cold, dark evening. 11 a.m. to midnight. Free. 1105 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-617-7793. —Jessica Armbruster

'It's a Wonderful Life'

'It's a Wonderful Life' Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

SATURDAY 12.22

It’s A Wonderful Life
Parkway Theater

Forget the saccharine trainwrecks you’ve watched this season on the Hallmark Channel, Netflix, and Hulu. It’s A Wonderful Life is the OG “make you cry with joy” Christmas flick. But it’s not just sweet; it’s an enduring December tradition because it’s as dark as it is lighthearted—which is no easy feat. Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey, a humble banker (go with it; this movie was made in 1946) from a small town who has faced as many disappointments in life as he has had triumphs. When things go wrong at the bank and at home, he runs off to the bar and, in a drunken stupor, decides to kill himself. That’s when an angel steps in and shows him what the life of those he loves would be without him. These horrors include mass deaths, insanity, and spinsterdom (the worst thing a woman can face!). You know how this goes. In the end, George learns the importance of getting over what you don’t have and appreciating what you do. If the final scene doesn’t make you tear up at least a little bit, your heart is probably made of stone. 1 p.m. $7; $5 kids 12 and under. 4814 Chicago Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-822-8080. —Jessica Armbruster

Last Call: A Holiday Market
FOOD Building

It’s the Saturday before Christmas and you’re freaking out. But don’t worry; you don’t have to resort to shopping at a gas station yet. The FOOD Building is hosting a market for all you procrastinators, so there’s still some time to find a thoughtful gift for everyone on your list. Local vendors will offer wares including jewelry (Everthine), home decor items (Pink Linen), children’s toys (Kinoko Kids), self care products (ROMI Apothecary), and stocking stuffers for foodies (Serious Jam). Gift yourself with Fulton brew and eats from Lowry Hill Meats. Be sure to stop by the free gift-wrap station. 3 to 8 p.m. 1401 Marshall St. NE, Minneapolis; 612-545-5555. —Jessica Armbruster

Fair State Brewing Cooperative.

Fair State Brewing Cooperative. Star Tribune

SUNDAY 12.23

The 5th Annual Festivus Celebration
Fair State Brewing Cooperative

This Sunday, Fair State celebrates the newest holiday: Festivus. Born from an episode of Seinfeld, this celebration doesn’t have a set date (Town Hall honored the event last week), but its traditions are clear. There will be an aluminum pole, which folks will gather around to air their grievances. Talk about people who did you wrong, life’s little irritations, and anything else that grinds your gears. After a verbal rant, let it out even more with feats of strength, as Fair State will test your physical and emotional mettle. Wash it all down with delicious beer and toast to the holiday. 7 to 10 p.m. Free. 2506 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis; 612-444-3209. —Jessica Armbruster