Heather Bunch, Adelin Phelps and Willie Gambucci in Red Resurrected.
Lauren B Photography
Transatlantic Love Affair is hoping lighting strikes again. The innovative company -- where the everything, down to the sets and sound effects, is created by the actors onstage -- is presenting a revised version of Red Resurrected at the Illusion Theater as part of the Lights Up! series.
Last year, the company had a hit with a revival of Ballad of a Pale Fisherman. The show not only drew strong audiences and notices, but it earned the company an Ivey Award. Like Fisherman, Red Resurrected started its life at the Minnesota Fringe Festival.
"I think the second show is the scariest. It's the sophomore effort. Was it a fluke?" says director Isabel Nelson.
There are some differences. "Last time, we knew the thing we needed to expand on, but the plot remained untouched. This time, we've added some plot points," Nelson says.
"The benefit of working the way we do is that we have eight brains working on the same problem. We have a lot of ground to work with," she adds.
The show uses the story of Little Red Riding Hood as a foundation. The setting is shifted to Appalachia, and other tales have been merged with other myths, legends, and pieces of folklore.
Finding the story took some time. Nelson's moment of inspiration came while spending time with an aunt and uncle in Virginia. That experience reminded her of the summers she spent early in her life in the mountains of the south. "The smells and the sounds of that was home to me," she says.
The company works collaboratively, building up the show as they go. The lack of sets and props means that not just the performers have to maintain their focus. The audience has to work as well.
The style "is freeing and tremendously challenging in the all the right ways. It engages us in the process of creating. It requires the imagination of the audience. I think audiences appreciate being included. I like to think it makes it more of a collaborative effort," Nelson says.
Red Resurrected premiered at the 2011 Minnesota Fringe Festival. At that time, "we weren't done with it. It started to feel like we had touched these issues and found these kernels. We stripped off the first layer. There definitely was a sense with all of us that we could go deeper. The opportunity to this has been really exciting: to not just talk about it, but to do it," Nelson says.
The time away was also important. "We realize what sticks and may not be as important. It lets us breathe and come back to it," she says.
The Fringe has become an important home for Transatlantic Love Affair -- the company was selected in this week's lottery to return for a fourth year in 2013 -- as it brings a different audience to the theater than the one they see at the Illusion.
"We've been fortunate to get return audiences, and audiences for the first time. It's a delightful mix," Nelson says.
Previews Thursday, opens Friday-March 2
Illusion Theater, Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts, 8th Floor
528 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
For tickets and more information, call 612.339.4944 or visit online.