Off-Leash Area's Le Squat plays very close to home

Off-Leash Area's Le Squat plays very close to home
Image courtesy Off-Leash Area
Off-Leash Area remounts a popular show this weekend -- in a venue very close to home. For Le Squat, the show is presented in creator Paul Herwig's garage. 

"It actually didn't take that much work to convert the garage for a show. What takes work is all the elaborate and detailed set work that gets developed and built in tandem with the shows," Herwig says.

For the piece, Herwig drew on his own experiences of living in a Paris squat while a student in the 1980s. The squat became a focus of intense artistry for Herwig and the rest of the inhabitants.

"There's a lot of connection to our garage space the Squat, in that the Squat was not a gentrified 'artists' co-op.' It was a an empty warehouse -- albeit one that was full of junk, and slightly dangerous, and with homeless lost souls -- and while our garage and our neighborhood are safe and friendly, it is a place of near total freedom where you can do anything you want, in terms of creating. Everything is on our own terms," Herwig says.

The piece is free form and focused on the innovative movement-based theater that the company has crafted over the past decade plus. Herwig created and performs the piece, while Jennifer Ilse, Herwig's collaborator in the company, directs.

The piece was first produced in the summer of 2010 as a featured project of Herwig's McKnight Fellowship activities.

"We wanted to remount the show because we think it's a really great work and want more people to see it," he says.

The garage has seating for 40 and -- for those of you wondering -- is heated.

"We don't try to hide the fact that you're in a garage. The transformative power of good art gets magnified when the lights come up after a show and everybody has forgotten that they're sitting next to a rack and shovel, and stacks of storage bins," Herwig says.

Playing in storage areas isn't new for Off-Leash. They have a Neighborhood Garage Tour each year. All of this gives the company considerable flexibility, whether playing in a tiny garage or at the 500-seat Cowles Center.


Le Squat
Off-Leash Area Garage
3540 34th Ave. S., Minneapolis
Friday, January 25 through February 3
For information and reservations, call 612.724.7372 or visit online
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Off-Leash Area Garage

3540 S. 34th Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55406


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