Fall Arts Guide 2018: The 20 best events of the season

Pictured: model and artist Karmel Sabri

Pictured: model and artist Karmel Sabri Photo by Shelly Mosman

Don't let our current week of sunny 80-degree weather fool you: Fall is just around the corner. With the changing of the season comes new events to plan for. The following are some of our top picks for theater, dance, readings, and visual arts coming up in the Twin Cities.

'St. Kilda' at the Twin Cities Horror Fest.

'St. Kilda' at the Twin Cities Horror Fest. Photo by Michael Niederman


For Colored Girls
Penumbra Theatre

There could hardly be a better time, or a better venue, to revisit Ntozake Shange’s Obie-winning 1974 play, which she called a “choreopoem.” Twenty poems set to music and dance are performed by a multigenerational cast of women of color, drawing attention to issues of domestic violence and sexual assault while celebrating the healing energy of women’s solidarity.For colored girls, which made Shange the second black woman (after Raisin in the Sun author Lorraine Hansberry) to have a play on Broadway, emerged from the same Black Arts Movement that produced Penumbra itself. Artistic director Sarah Bellamy and her father, Lou Bellamy, are co-directing; Ananya Chatterjea (Ananya Dance Theatre) choreographs. “The same rhetoric that is used to establish the Black Aesthetic,” Shange said in 1979, “we must use to establish a women’s aesthetic, which is to say that those parts of reality that are ours, those things about our bodies, the cycles of our lives that have been ignored for centuries in all castes and classes of our people, are to be dealt with now.” 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays; 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. $15-$40. 270 N. Kent St., St. Paul; 651-224-3180. September 18 to October 14 —Jay Gabler

Soma Studios

Trademark Theater, run by two Tylers, is one of the Twin Cities’ highest-profile new company launches in recent years. Tyler Michaels is an actor and director whose star has been rising since he was handed the Emerging Artist Ivey Award in 2014. Tyler Mills is a writer known for acclaimed Fringe shows. Though the company’s debut production, last year’s The Boy & Robin Hood, was underwhelming, this fall’s production of Understood is a very different endeavor. Written by Mills and directed by Michaels, Understood comes billed as a surreal two-hander about a young married couple whose relationship has become strained. The disappearance of their dog sends them on a journey staged at Soma Studios, a new art space in the Grain Belt building. Michaels says in a statement that he hopes the production will help facilitate “difficult but necessary conversations” about personal and political differences as the midterm elections approach. It’s a worthy, if daunting, aim. Find tickets and more info at 79 13th Ave. NE, studio 212 at Grain Belt Studios, Minneapolis; 701-739-5828. October 3-28 —Jay Gabler

The Haunted Basement 12
The Haunted Basement

The Haunted Basement retains a unique niche as the Halloween experience for discerning scare-seekers, those looking for something more creative than just masked movie villains jumping wearily from behind doors. For its second year in its post-Soap Factory space, the Basement is moving to a system where a new director helms the horrors each year. This year’s dungeon master is Paul von Stoetzel, a filmmaker and theater artist who promises to take the popular October destination in a dystopian direction. “This year our intention is to truly fuck with those who have the sand to step into the basement,” he says. “Our intent is inspire a true dread that patrons didn’t know we could accomplish. We want patrons to physically enter a ghoulish world which they both are fascinated and subsequently horrified by the worst monsters imaginable—desperate human beings.” In other words, don’t expect last year’s undead Betty Crocker to make a comeback. 18+. Schedule a time at $15-$40. 2010 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-444-2191. October 5-31—Jay Gabler

Twin Cities Horror Festival 
Southern Theater

Seven years in, the Twin Cities Horror Festival has become one of the most exciting—and, of course, terrifying—annual stage events on the calendar. Adventurous theater artists from Minnesota and beyond set up beneath the Southern’s atmospherically age-worn proscenium to tell spine-chilling stories without the safety net that scary movies allow. This year’s lineup looks particularly promising. Tom Reed, Fringe favorite and Brave New Workshop star, is delving into darkness with a show calledGreenway. Toronto’s Kairos Collective is presenting The Bathtub Girls, inspired by Canada’s first case of sibling matricide. Rogues Gallery Arts, which pushed the fourth wall with last year’s Intuition and the Mantis, are adapting Washington Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow. And Garrett Vollmer, a core Dangerous Productions actor, has written a play exploring toxic masculinity in small-town America. It’s horror that strikes close to the show’s title: Home. Times and ticket prices vary; visit for more info. 1420 S. Washington Ave., Minneapolis; 612-340-0155. October 25 through November 4 —Jay Gabler

Marie and Rosetta
Park Square Theatre

While the African American men who built the foundation for rock ’n’ roll still don’t get their proper due, many of their black female peers remain virtually unknown. Such is the case with Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a fierce gospel guitar slinger who was just posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. George Brant’s Marie and Rosetta, having its regional premiere at Park Square Theatre under the direction of Frank Theatre’s Wendy Knox, finds the pioneer in 1946, preparing for a tour with her new protégé Marie Knight. Gary Hines (Sounds of Blackness) serves as musical director for a production full of tunes ranging from spiritual to secular, as Tharpe unpacks her pioneering style and points the way toward the future that her musical descendants will inherit. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays. $20-$40. 20 W. Seventh Place, Historic Hamm Building, St. Paul; 651-291-7005. November 23 through December 30 —Jay Gabler

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Duane Rieder


Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble: Cellular Songs
Walker Art Center

Meredith Monk has long been uncategorizable. A vocalist, composer, choreographer, theater artist, and mover, she’s most of all a visionary whose works at once transport us to a primal past and an irrepressible future. In large-scale theater piece, her first in more than a decade, she and her chorus of women move and sing to a film and video installation in an exploration of environmental devastation and resilience. While the work’s essence lies in the details, and Monk’s approach to exploring the microscopic in her singular way, the overall experience will be cosmic: aural, kinetic, and mind-blowingly transformative. 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. $28. 725 Vineland Place, Minneapolis; 612-375-7600. October 4-6 —Camille LeFevre 

Sarah Michelson: October2018/\
Walker Art Center

Choreographer Sarah Michelson returns to the Walker Art Center with... well, she’s not telling. Michelson’s long relationship with the Walker, which has included landmark commissioned works Daylight (2005),Devotion (2011), and tournamento (2015), continues with October2018/\. Previous dances have showcased severe formality and vigorous athleticism, ordeals, endurance, and encyclopedic explorations of things physical, spiritual, and architectural. They’ve been performed by her stellar group of dancers, as well as incorporated community members. While secrecy about what she’s making has become her trademark in the various museums and theaters where she’s performed nationwide (including the Whitney and the Museum of Modern Art in New York), a little sleuthing might offer up some clues. The performances take place at 5:30 in the Walker’s Cargill Lounge, where west-facing floor-to-ceiling windows offer a dramatic vista of the Walker campus. So, a sunset may be involved. And the audience may move around. Whatever transpires, it’s worth your time to experience this sui generis artist on her own terms. 5:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. $5. 725 Vineland Place, Minneapolis; 612-375-7600. October 19-21 —Linda Shapiro

Choreographers’ Evening 2018
Walker Art Center

The lineup for this perennial favorite invariably reflects the sensibilities of the curator. This year she’s Pramila Vasudevan, a 2017 Guggenheim Fellow and the founding artistic director of Aniccha Arts, whose technologically forward, socially conscious, and often site-specific work is based in classical and contemporary Indian dance forms. Whom will she select? And how will they confront, embrace, or reinvent the Walker’s McGuire Theater? Now in its 46th year, this annual event is always full of surprises, whether the choreographers are established or emerging. 7 and 9:30 p.m. $25. 725 Vineland Place, Minneapolis; 612-375-7600. November 24 —Camille LeFevre

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Local ballet lovers often feel starved for ballets by the incomparable George Balanchine, especially when performed to live music. They and everyone else will get both when the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra joins the feisty Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre for a concert of three works to music by Mozart. Balanchine’s “Divertimento No. 15,” a heady combo of neoclassical idealism and sensual gaiety, is the kind of sublime ballet that critics call “celestial” and “majestic.” By contrast, two ballets by Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián present quite a different worldview. Kylián has said, “Our bodies are 275 hinges or joints, so the combination of what you can do with them is endless.” His “Petite Mort” integrates athletic men wielding fencing foils, women defiantly stepping out of baroque dresses, and elegant mating dances. His lively “Sechs Tänze,” set to Mozart’s “Six German Dances,” allies the sophisticated with the absurd, pompous powdered wigs with sly wit. Operatic intensity abounds. 7:30 p.m. $21-$46. 84 Church St. SE, Minneapolis; 612-624-2345. November 8 —Linda Shapiro

Morgan Thorson and Alan Sparhawk (Low): Public Love
Walker Art Center

One reviewer of Morgan Thorson’s prior collaboration with Low, the 2009 Heaven, referred to the piece as an “audio-choreographed work.” That’s an apt, if a bit obtuse, description of an absorbing dance composed of elemental and elegant movement set to the slow-core music of Duluth band Low. This time, dancers Jessica Cressey, Non Edwards, Allie Hankins, Sam Johnson, Alanna Morris-Van Tassel, and Valerie Oliveiro will be on stage with Sparhawk, merging movement and music in a deep, tactile dive toward what touch means in a culture that values power and control. 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. $28. 725 Vineland Place, Minneapolis; 612-375-7600. December 6-8 —Camille LeFevre

'Tracey (Gold Circle)'

'Tracey (Gold Circle)' Sara Cwynar

Visual Arts

Sara Cwynar: Image Model Muse
Minneapolis Institute of Art

Simulation, simulacra, conceptualism, collage, ephemera, permanence, and gaze. These are just some aspects of Sara Cwynar’s work, with which theorists are having a field day. But the artist’s digital take on popular culture and social media, as portrayed in her photography and filmmaking, is intriguing to anyone alive in today’s material world. The Canadian-born, Brooklyn-based artist investigates contemporary concepts and the construction of beauty with a gimlet eye in the 11 photographs from the artist’s ongoing Tracy series. This being Cwynar’s first U.S. exhibition, the Mia show also includes three of the artist’s most recent films—Soft Film (2016), Rose Gold (2017), and Cover Girl (2018)—which explore consumerism, visual culture, value, disposability, and design in layered exposé. Free. 2400 Third Ave. S., Minneapolis; 888-642-2787.September 14 through January 20, 2019 —Camille LeFevre

IDS Center

Since 2012, ARTCRANK has been the place to be for people who love art, people who love bikes, and, of course, the many people who love both. Run by local husband-and-wife team Charles Youel and Nicki McCracken, the one-day event features handmade, bicycle-inspired posters, with limited-edition prints available for purchase. It’s an art show, it’s a bike community get-together, and there’s usually plenty of beer to keep things interesting. The incomparable Adam Turman will return once again with his much-loved design aesthetic, along with over 40 artists, illustrators, designers, and creatives who all bring their unique takes on finding the cycle sublime. Find more details at 4 to 10 p.m. Free. 80 S. Eighth St., Minneapolis. October 13 —Sheila Regan

Kinngait Studios: Printmaking in the Arctic Circle
Highpoint Center for Printmaking

Kinngait Studios, part of the West Baffin cooperative that opened in Nunavut, Canada, in 1959, supports Native artists interested in exploring the aesthetic possibilities of printmaking. Over the past 70 years, those artists’ work—redolent with nature’s most fantastical and magical qualities—have been embraced by collectors around the globe. In this singular exhibition, artists depict a wide range of imagery drawn from traditional Inuit practices, contemporary subject matter, and Inuit lore. Among the creatives is Kananginak Pootoogook, the first Inuit artist to be included in the Venice Biennale (2017). Most traditional printmaking techniques are used at Kinngait Studios, but the printers are known for the stonecut method using native soapstone. There will be an opening reception on Friday, October 19, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. 912 W. Lake St., Minneapolis; 612-871-1326. October 19 through November 17 —Camille LeFevre

Mario García Torres: Illusion Brought Me Here
Walker Art Center

This will be the first U.S. survey of Mexico City-based conceptual artist Mario Garcí-a Torres. The exhibition, curated by the Walker’s Vincenzo de Bellis with curatorial fellow Fabian Leyva-Barragan, will not only look at two decades’ worth of the artist’s work, but will also feature two new installations made just for the Walker. Torres will also perform three monologues over the course of the run, mining personal responses and reactions to contemporary issues. With video, installation, photography, and sculpture, the show will offer a glimpse at Torres’ compelling practice of looking at the work of conceptual artists of past generations. Through research and his own methods of fictionalized re-creation, Torres will offer plenty to chew over, especially in the context of the Walker Art Center, an institution that has supported and presented pieces by many of the artists that Torres draws inspiration from. 725 Vineland Place, Minneapolis; 612-375-7600.October 25 through February 17, 2019 —Sheila Regan

Egypt’s Sunken Cities
Minneapolis Institute of Art

A blockbuster exhibition of ancient artifacts that were almost lost forever makes its way to the Minneapolis Institute of Art as it tours around the world. “Egypt’s Sunken Cities” features more than 250 works of art that were discovered by underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio while exploring the Aboukir Bay near the city of Alexandrea. Goddio’s team of archaeologists, Egyptologists, historians, geologists, geophysicists, and computer engineers unearthed (or “unwatered” in this case) incredible sculptures and artifacts from the lost cities of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus, once thriving locations of the ancient world. The monumental statues—including jewelry, ceramics, and religious images carved in stone—were submerged in water around 800 C.E. until their rediscovery in 2000. Goddio will give lectures at Mia on October 28 and November 1, recounting the fascinating adventure of excavating the ancient sites. The exhibition features artifacts from museums in Cairo and Alexandria. $20. 2400 Third Ave. S., Minneapolis; 888-642-2787. November 4 through April 14, 2019 —Sheila Regan

Twin Cities Book Fest

Twin Cities Book Fest Jennifer Simonson


Mary Moore Easter
Wisdom Ways

Mary Moore Easter’s collection of poetry The Body of the World is about her life as an African American woman, dancer, and writer. Her visceral reading at the Loft last March demonstrated that poetry could rock. This time out, she’ll read the 15 linked sonnets that grew out of her overwhelming experience seeing the battalions of the 2,000-year-old warrior sculptures unearthed in Xian, China. Sculpted by thousands of enslaved artists to protect the Emperor Qin Shi Huang after death, the underground army became even more of a symbol of tyranny when the artists who worked on the project were murdered to protect the tomb’s location. But still, “the power of art felt so much greater than the power of dominion,” she says. The reading will be followed by a discussion and reception. 7 p.m. Free; RSVP at 651-696-2788. 1890 Randolph Ave., St. Paul. September 27 —Linda Shapiro

Julie Schumacher
Magers & Quinn

The English department at the fictional Payne University is near death in Julie Schumacher’s new book, The Shakespeare Requirement. The novel revives the cantankerous Professor Fitger, who debuted in Schumacher’s 2014 novel, Dear Committee Members, a tome that made her the first woman ever awarded the Thurber Prize for American Humor. But unlike that story, which used first-person point of view and was written in the form of recommendation letters, The Shakespeare Requirement invites readers to experience academia—and its incessant red tape—from multiple perspectives, including faculty, students, and the higher-ups. The English department facilities make for quite the character as well, and are clearly inspired by the University of Minnesota, where Schumacher has taught for two decades. A book about how the English faculty struggle to agree on a “statement of vision” before the well-endowed econ department takes over what’s left of their budget and office space might not sound riveting, but thanks to Schumacher’s artistry, you’ll be amused and entertained all the way through. 7 p.m. Free. 3038 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-822-4611. September 27 —Erica Rivera

Twin Cities Book Festival
Minnesota State Fairgrounds

Every fall, thousands of book lovers descend on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds to gather around the written word and the authors who’ve mastered it, and to stock up on new reads. Among the big-name authors flying in for the 18th annual festival are award-winning Brit Geoff Dyer; Steve Almond, whose latest book, Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened To Our Country, attributes the outcome of the 2016 presidential election to erroneous narratives we’ve told ourselves; and Kenya native Ngugi wa Thiong’o, whose memoir, Wrestling with the Devil, recounts the year he spent in jail as a political prisoner. Many children’s and young adult authors will be in attendance, too, like Hamline professor Sheila O’Connor and janitor-turned-writer Daniel Bernstrom. Get your books signed at the “morning mingle” before a full day of author presentations and children’s programming—all for free. Find more info at 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free. 1265 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul; 651-288-4400.October 13 —Erica Rivera

Talking Volumes: Rebecca Traister
Fitzgerald Theater

Rebecca Traister, the whip-smart author of All the Single Ladies (2016) and Big Girls Don’t Cry (2010), now turns her attention to the revolutionary power of women’s anger in Good and Mad. In the United States, female and male ire are not interpreted equally; even in the same gender group, race and socioeconomic status determine who gets heard. Traister examines how privilege incites anger and infighting among women, the ways women are silenced and silence themselves, the role of profanity in the expression of indignation, and why fury is an asset for men (see Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, both of whom leveraged that emotion in the last presidential election), yet is seen as a liability for women. In demonstrating our country’s rageful history, Traister pulls from a long line of female firebrands—from Abigail Adams and Shirley Chisholm to Andrea Dworkin and Samantha Bee—and addresses the role of anger in modern movements like Occupy, Black Lives Matter, and #MeToo. It’s all part of an awakening and a call to action. “Being mad is American,” she writes. “Don’t ever let them talk you out of being mad again.” 7 p.m. $23-$50. 10 E. Exchange St., St. Paul; 651-290-1200. October 17 —Erica Rivera