Rehearsals have been ongoing for The Big Lowdown.
Photo by Farrington Starnes
Two innovative local theater groups are teaming up for a unique look at a signature St. Paul neighborhood this weekend.
Live Action Set and Bedlam Theatre present The Big Lowdown from Friday to Sunday. The event will take audiences around the neighborhood for a string of short scenes set everywhere from the Union Depot to a bus stop.
The companies first worked together a few years ago with The Happy Show, which Live Action Set presented in Bedlam's former Cedar-Riverside home. The show found audience members moving the entirety of the theater space to catch different scenes.
The idea here is similar, just on a bigger scale. "It's not just in one building. It's in 10 different locations in a three-block radius throughout Lowertown," says Live Action Set's Noah Bremer.
"Not only will people get to know Live Action Set and Bedlam, but they also get to see Lowertown in a different light," Bremer says.
The event starts at Union Depot, where the audience is broken up into groups and assigned a starter location. Once there, "they will have a 'tour guide' who will take them to different locations. All of them have different tracks and routes, so each group won't see everything," Bremer says.
Different teams have created each of the different segments, taking inspiration from the location and a slightly sketched out central idea. "A young person is dealing with something difficult and turns to an elder. The elder gives them a box of letters. The box of letters is opened and changes this young person's life forever," Bremer says. The groups "created and devised it from that. Some are very abstract. Some are very literal."
Along with the various set locations, plans are to include additional performers along the way so "you are not sure if they are part of the show or part of the landscape," Bremer says.
And to keep with the box of letters theme, there are mailboxes included in the show. "You can go to them at any time and have an automated theatrical experience," Bremer says.
One of the goals was to broaden and strengthen ties with St. Paul. "We reached out to talent scouts who knew St. Paul and trusted they would bring in quality creators," Bremer says. "It was like throwing a fishing line. The fish would nibble and a bigger fish would latch on. I would never have been able to reach out to these people because I didn't know they existed. The process has been great. It has reached out to a lot of great artistic organizations and brought them to one place."
All of that ties back into the kind of theater Live Action Set and Bedlam want to provide for the audience.
"As an artist, what I am most interested in right now is giving an audience an experience. In this case, that experience is to see something that is beautiful or disgusting or enchanting. If it is their first time in Lowertown or the 100th, they see something unique that they wouldn't in their normal routine," Bremer says.
The Big Lowdown
8 p.m. Friday-Sunday
Starts at Union Depot, 214 Fourth St. E., St. Paul
For tickets and more information, visit online.