Open Eye hosts five weeks of 'Women's Work'

A new work by Zhauan Franks, 'Her Hysterical Nostalgia,' will be presented April 8-10.

A new work by Zhauan Franks, 'Her Hysterical Nostalgia,' will be presented April 8-10.

Open Eye Figure Theatre turns its stage and lobby in south Minneapolis to women artists for a five-week series starting this weekend.

It's Women's Work
includes different pairings for each set of performances. It opens with a spoken-word piece by Nor Hall, an installation by Harriet Bart, and photography by Laura Crosby that explore the journey of women and children "caught in the web of war." Future programs in the series feature CD-release shows, dance, and spoken word.

"I had a number of women artists approach me about new projects that they were looking for a space for, and then others that I'd been talking with for the last year or two about new works they were thinking about. These were all individual artists, and I know how hard it is to produce your own work when you are the one creating it," says Susan Haas, the co-founder of Open Eye. [jump]

Producing the work at Open Eye was a natural fit, as the theater and space evolved out the need for Haas her partner, puppeteer Michael Sommers, to have a home for their work.

"I wanted to support these established artists, and so I created a series to bring them all higher visibility. The diversity of the forms is interesting to me. I wanted each week to be different, and, hopefully, the audience will cross pollinate between the artists," she says. 

The programs match performing and visual artists. Sometimes the match already existed or was perfectly natural--like Holly Hughes's Dog and Pony Show and Mary Ludington's photographs of dogs and ponies--others came out of a desire to find an "artist whose work would complement the performance," Haas says.

Haas has expanded the initial run to also feature three Monday evening programs, including a discussion among four women in theater, a work in progress, and a first-reading by a trio of writers. "I'm going to boast that I've 'outed' them. They've been writing together for years but never read their work publicly. They are terrified. So I know it will be wonderful," Haas says.

Overall, Haas sees a connection between these diverse works--films, CD-release shows, spoken word--and Open Eye's dedication to puppetry.
"Puppetry incorporates many art forms, from visual to performance, and the backstage movement of a puppetry work is tightly choreographed," Haas says. "I want to do everything I can to bring artists and audiences of different disciplines to Open Eye. I do not want to be a theater that has an audience of puppetry specific people, and we don't," she says.

It's Womens's Work runs Friday through April 24.