Naked Stages artists delve into the personal

Photo Courtesy of Pillsbury House

Photo Courtesy of Pillsbury House

Artists from Naked Stages, the seven to nine month development program that provides support for performance artists, will show their work this weekend and next at the Pillsbury House Theatre. The program provides time, money, and mentoring for artists who are interested in pushing the boundaries of their work. City Pages took a moment to chat with Andrea Jenkins and Janaki Ranpura, two artists who will be presenting their efforts this weekend.

[jump] Part 1: Andrea Jenkins

City Pages: How is your piece for Naked Stages similar to or different from other work you've done?

CP:  The billing says its about a father/daughter relationship. Is it somewhat based on your own life?

JR: My father died last January, so this piece is a kind of telegraph line about the fresh and strange world that I'm in in the aftermath of that. 

CP:  Who were your collaborators on the piece?  What is the style or genre, or does it have one?

JR: I worked with Michael Sommers and Masanari Kawahara in the final stages of creation. They are both artists that work with puppets in really interesting, dramatic ways. My piece is a puppet show, and it's performance art, which is, I guess, unclassifiable, or another way to say "adult puppetry" without it sounding dirty.

CP:  What was your experience working with Naked Stages? How has the piece grown?  How have you grown as an artist?

JR: Naked Stages has been a great help this year in dealing with my feelings and my family after my dad's death. It gives me an excuse to stop and think and process, because I can tell myself that it's for work. The sage advice of Molly Van Avery, Sharon Bridgforth, and Laurie Carlos helped me realize that this is a process without an endpoint, without a summary or a conclusion. It is, in fact, life. It just goes on. So I've realized partially with the help of the program that the job of the artist is mainly to keep going because there are no answers, just the feeling that, through the mist, you are heading home.

CP:  What's next for you?

JR: I'm doing a whizbang puppet show through Heart of the Beast Theatre that will show in February. I'm working with Clement Shimizu, who's a really fun visual graphics programmer; Amy Waksmonski, a video specialist; and one of the core writers at the Playwrights' Center, Cory Hinkle, to make a new piece that juggles high- and low-tech in a noir crime story. 

Pillsbury House Theatre brings Naked Stages back December 1 through 4 with Andrea Jenkins and Janaki Ranpura, and December 8 through 11 with Esther Ouray and M. Cochise Anderson. Tickets are $15 for adults, and $10 for students and seniors. For more info and to purchase tickets, call 612.825.0459 or visit