'Trick Boxing' ready for its latest round

Brian Sostek and Megan McClellan bring their show to the Guthrie
Brian Sostek and Megan McClellan bring their show to the Guthrie
Photo by Ed Bock
Trick Boxing has long been a part of Megan McClellan and Brian Sostek's lives, from its debut at the Minnesota Fringe Festival through tours across the country.

"We basically took a hiatus from creating our own work when we started having kids. We decided a couple of years ago that we weren't done with Trick Boxing and wanted to bring it back," Sostek says. "There was more depth to plumb."

The latest version of Trick Boxing opens this weekend at the Guthrie Theater, produced by the couple's own Sossy Mechanics. As always, it showcases the talents of the two creators, but it also features an expanded look into the world of the characters.

Trick Boxing started as a way for the couple to link several short dances together for a Fringe Festival show. "I had signed up with the Fringe without anything in mind. I used to make little trick boxes, and there was one that told the story of a boxer who mooned a comet and scared it away from the Earth. The idea of playing the clever fool came through," Sostek says.

The piece uses dance, movement, and puppetry to tell the story of a hapless apple seller who is tricked into becoming a prizefighter. Aided by saucy dancehall girl Belle, Danny fights all of the odds on his journey.

"I was really nervous to go back in there and crack it open," Sostek says. "It was a seed that lain dormant for several years. I cracked it open and it sprouted anew. Once again, I grossly overwrote and started to cut back, but if you are cutting away good material then you likely have a good show."

The nature of the collaboration means the show never truly sits still. "We never lock a show. Between opening and closing we will make more changes. It is cool that we have a comfort level with one another and the freedom to improve it," he says.

The growth in their relationship -- and having two children -- certainly informed the latest incarnation of Trick Boxing, McClellan says.

"We added two new dances to this show in this incarnation. There are a lot of little Easter eggs in the show of his parents' courtship and our courtship. The whole moral of the story is to find someone you love and spend as much time with them as you can," McClellan says.

The ultimate goal is to entertain. "We err on the side of being too dense in our language and material and choreography and pace," Sostek says. "We hope that you never once check the time or look away or check text messages. We want you to be constantly engaged."

Eventually, the two would love for other pairs of performers to take on the show. "Part of the goal was to take it from a show that was very specific to these two people and their skill sets to one other people can pick up," McClellan says.


Trick Boxing
Dowling Studio, Guthrie Theater
818 S. Second St., Minneapolis
Friday through Sept. 2
For information and tickets, call 612.377.2224 or visit online.

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Guthrie Theater

818 S. 2nd St.
Minneapolis, MN 55415


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