Late Nite Series: Non English Speaking Spoken Here returns this weekend

Photo by Dinah Ismail
Photo by Dinah Ismail

Back in the early days of the Late Nite Series, it was all very underground. Sometimes things wouldn't start until 12:30 a.m., and it would go until three in the morning. Nowadays, the series begins at the slightly more reasonable hour of 9 p.m., and is publicized with more than just word of mouth. However, it still has that underground feel to it, says E.G. Bailey, who now curates the series with its founder Laurie Carlos.

Bailey's involvement with Late Nite began when it was held at Penumbra Theatre. He was asked by Carlos to curate one evening with his partner, Shá Cage, as they were just starting the Minnesota Spoken Word Association. "It gave us a taste of what MNSWA was about, and what we wanted to present," he says. 

A couple of years later, Carlos officially asked Bailey to become her co-curator for the series. They work together by conversing and emailing back and forth about what the feel and direction each year should be.  

Late Nite is structured in such a way that it features both Minnesota and New York artists. "We don't like to think of it as headline artists and local artists," Bailey says, because "every artist is local somewhere."

The curators hope to build bridges and make connections, giving Twin Cities audiences a taste of what's happening in New York, and presenting artists here with an opportunity to meet folks from out East. The New York artists come into town a couple of days early, so everybody has a chance to break bread, Bailey says, and "commune together and to dialogue and have a conversation." The New York artists are also encouraged to check out what's happening in the Twin Cities. 

This year, there's not really a general theme as much as an attempt to cross disciplines each night. "This year it's pretty diverse in terms of disciplines," Bailey says.  For example, this Saturday, when New York based hip-hop artist Intikana performs, performance artists Gabrielle Civil and Kirk Washington will share the lineup as well with poet Nimo Farah and Ryan Dean, a young dancer and recent graduate of the University of Minnesota. 

 "Part of the idea is a ground for experimentation," Bailey says. The hope is to give artists -- even the ones that are more established -- an opportunity to try out something new or different. 

Past years have seen staged readings, excerpts of musical compositions, and dance works that are still in progress. "We welcome failure," Bailey says. "We really try to encourage artists to let go of feeling anxiety about creating a polished work, and really focus on what they need or what they are trying to accomplish. We want them to feel free to take risks they wouldn't normally take." 

Another aspect of Late Nite is that it's an opportunity for younger or lesser known artists to get exposure, and to show their work. For example, the Duke brothers (Antoine and Antonio) are two young artists who just graduated from high school. Bailey really wanted to include them because they are very active and "very hungry to create work and express themselves," he says. They are the youngest artists ever included in the series. Bailey felt that he wanted to encourage and support them, just as others -- such as Laurie Carlos -- reached out to him while he was young. 

Additionally, there are opportunities for some new artists with whom the curators aren't as familiar with. Each year, there are at least a few artists who give their card to Bailey after a show and say they are interested. "We want to keep doors open to as many people as possible," he says. 

Late Nite lasts for three Saturdays. Other participating artists in the coming weeks include storyteller Beverly Cottman on November 10. On November 17, spoken-word artist Bao Phi will share the lineup with musicians Sarah White and Rico Mandez, who are planning a multi-disciplinary performance, and Broadway dancer Iris Wilson, who will be showcasing her choreography about Sudanese refugees and children of war. For a full list of all the artists performing, check out the Pillsbury House website.


Late Nite Series
Pillsbury House Theatre
9 p.m. Saturdays, November 3-17

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Pillsbury House Theatre

3501 Chicago Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55404


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