Diverse trio of artists make up latest Naked Stages

Moheb Soliman is one of the three artists in the 2013 Naked Stages at PIllsbury House Theatre.
Moheb Soliman is one of the three artists in the 2013 Naked Stages at PIllsbury House Theatre.
Photos courtesy Pillsbury House Theatre
Over the next two weeks, the Pillsbury House Theatre will present a trio of new works as distinct as the artists who created them.

This year's Naked Stages program features: Habeas Corpus, a work exploring the meaning of identity and story by Zainab Musa; A Great Lakes Vista, where creator Moheb Soliman delves into his experiences visiting the communities along America's inland sea; and 3 Figures$, an exploration of the financial collapse by Emily Zimmer.

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The lineup of creators "is really different every year," says Molly Van Avery, the director of Naked Stages. "I believe this group has really been sweet, with how much respect they have for one another's work. As an artist, you create in isolation. This group has really embraced the differences and similarities."

Those differences have been inspirational for the creators. "The way Zainab and Moheb would play with ideas blew my mind," Zimmer says. "I was interested in disrupting beginning, middle, and end, and saw that in Zainab's work."

Soliman found the differences to be instrumental in his creative development. "They are doing such different things from me and from each other. It helps you tune into your process and energy," he says. 

Each of the three works is as distinct as the creators working on them.

"I am experimenting with sensations in the body. It's a non-linear expression of fear and darkness," Musa says. 

"My show is part poetry and part installation. It is based on a collection of poems that are in progress based on a set of experiences circling the Great Lakes region," Soliman says. "There are a lot of projections and a lot of drawings onstage.

"I'm making a three-character piece that is about the economy and financial collapse. I picked three characters to tell the story of our economy and wrote and created a piece for each character," Zimmer says. 

For Musa, the seven-month Naked Stages process started just after finishing another one at Red Eye Theater.

"The two pieces are linked in that I come from a traditional theatrical background as an actor for hire. I have been intrigued about the certain role of blackness I need in order to get work. I have challenged myself to work with different performance styles that I wouldn't have been hired to do," she says.

Soliman grew up in the Midwest, spent time in Canada, and has more recently made the Twin Cities his home.

"I had just moved here and found out about Pillsbury House. It was a perfect opportunity to develop a show out of it. I had done performances about the piece before, but this was a substantial project that would take me a lot farther. It encouraged experimentation of process," Soliman says.

Zimmer's piece "started with a conversation with my dad about Brooksly Born, who warned about the financial crisis in the '90s. It got his attention, and he's not a guy who talks about injustice," she says.

That germ of an idea combined with another thought from Zimmer. "I spend a lot of my days talking about narrative structure with kids. I thought about how I could dig into an idea without using that structure. That permission to play [at Naked Stages] has been fun for me," she adds. 

What's next for the three? Well, at present they are mainly focused on the next two weeks, but there are some inklings, even if that is just a break. 

"I miss being an actor and using words in an order," Musa says. I appreciate the limitation that I was running away from and am excited to get back. I have discovered how important form and structure are to me. I'm also excited to get back and develop the characters I was developing in my last work. Between my last piece and this piece, there needs to be a culling of the material. I need a space and time to make that happen."


Naked Stages
7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, Dec. 4-14
Pillsbury House Theatre
3501 Chicago Ave. S., Minneapolis
Pick your price for tickets (regular price is $15)
For tickets and more information, call 612.825.0459 or visit online. 
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Pillsbury House Theatre

3501 Chicago Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55404



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