The Moving Company returns with Out of the Pan Into the Fire

Photo by Dominique Serrand
Photo by Dominique Serrand
Nathan Keepers and Christina Baldwin

For their latest effort, the Moving Company mined a rich storytelling vein: fairy tales. In the end, they weren't interested in retelling a single story, but instead grabbed characters and situations from different tales and put them into a sort of theatrical blender.

Out of the Pan into the Fire features the four core members of the Moving Company: co-artistic director Steven Epp and Dominique Serrand and artistic associates Nathan Keepers and Christina Baldwin. Epp and Serrand were longtime members of Theatre de la Jeune Lune, and Keepers and Baldwin worked with the company many times before it folded in 2008.

"A character could come from a story or a little event that is not necessarily from that fairy tale," says Epp. "We slowly assembled the world of our show, which is an entire fairy tale that has been pieced together. At a certain point, you forget the source material and then it takes on its own life."

The storytelling has been reduced to a handful of characters. "One is pretty much like the ghost figure or father, and [there are] two children," Serrand says.

"The children are sort of suspended in perpetual childhood. It's closer to the way commedia [dell'arte] functions: Those characters stay in a certain place with a defined personality. We're not adult actors playing children, but playing child-like adults," Epp says.

"The main theme of the tale is social ineptitude; the sense that they can't quite fit in the world as it is, and they are trying to find out how," Serrand says.

In the end, they have a piece that is "very playful and funny, and also very cruel," Epp says. "Fairy tales have a great playfulness, and there is a brutality and a violence. When it is violent, it is pretty fucking violent."

Work for Out of the Pan into the Fire began at a residency at the University of Iowa, where the Moving Company creators worked with students on the first version of the show. "We started to basically work on the script. We did a full production with the students. We wrapped it, looked at it, and threw away 60 percent of it and then rewrote it. It's a system we have embraced," Serrand says.

The early workshop allows the team to "see it three dimensionally, not just see it on the page. There are limitations to their capabilities -- there is limited experience and technique -- but they are game," Epp says.

It also allows the company to see young actors that fit into their performing needs. Sam Kruger, who is in the new show, first worked with the Moving Company at the University of Minnesota's workshop of The War Within/All's Fair.

Several years into the Moving Company, the creators continue to work at making their signature style of theater. The journey can be tough, especially after several years of economic hard times. "The arts -- and even inside the arts, theater -- are always at the tail end of the recovery," says Epp.

"We've had great support from individual people. Nationally, the funding is difficult for everyone. This is the new fight. It is really getting rough out there," Keepers says.

"In our tenacity to continue to create art, we still have that. We spend a lot of time out of town. We work in different theaters around the country, and we would like that the work we are creating here to move," Serrand says. "We set ourselves up to not have a safety net. We are not going to do Hamlet. We are a company dedicated to new work."


Out of the Pan Into the Fire Through May 26 The Southern Theater, 1420 Washington Ave., Minneapolis $18.50-$26.50 For information, call 612.340.0155 or visit online

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The Southern Theater

1420 S. Washington Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55454-1038


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