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Wonder Woman and more: Walking Shadow plans intriguing shows for 15-16 season

Zach Curtis in The Whale. The Walking Shadow production was one of the ten best local shows in 2014.

Zach Curtis in The Whale. The Walking Shadow production was one of the ten best local shows in 2014.

For the 2015-16 season, Walking Shadow Theatre Company offers a Christmas twist on Shakespeare, regional premieres exploring friendship and faith, and a look at the tangled legend of Wonder Woman.

“We’re always looking for something that asks a great question that we can really dig our teeth into; something that sparks conversation well after the curtain is down. This year, that comes significantly in the form of asking questions about bravery, faith, truth, identity — the big questions. But asking them in the form of some very intimate, distilled stories,” says co-artistic head Amy Rummenie.

Of the four shows, the most intriguing may be Lasso of Truth. The piece, a co-production with the playwright-driven Workhaus Collective, digs into the life of Wonder Woman creator (and inventor of the first lie-detector machine) William Marston. The Carson Kreitzer-penned play covers a lot of ground, from the two lovers who inspired Marston to a modern-day woman looking at the origins of her favorite character.

“We read Lasso of Truth last year and simply fell in love with it,” says John Heimbuch, Rummenie’s husband and company co-founder. “We adore Carson as a writer and this play's themes of comic books, invention, gender, and sexuality were a perfect fit for Walking Shadow… Carson was already committed to staging the play with Workhaus Collective, so we asked if Walking Shadow could come aboard as a co-producer. Thankfully, it worked out.”

Heimbuch wrote A Midwinter Night’s Revel. As the title indicates, it’s a twist on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The inspiration came while researching Christmas stories for another show.

“I kept visualizing these beautiful images of Titania and Oberon in a snowy wooded glade during World War I. In 2011, I was lucky enough to get a grant to study English holiday folk traditions, and that research became the basis of this script. Midwinter puts Titania, Oberon, and Puck into a more contemplative and wintery story, dealing with themes of magic, love, loss, and family — a bit like Shakespeare's late romances — while also drawing from ancient British fairy lore to tell a tale of redemption and hope for two mortals,” Heimbuch says.

The season also features Annie Baker’s The Aliens and Lucas Hnath’s The Christians.

Baker, whose plays include the recent Pulitzer-Prize winning The Flick, looks at an unlikely friendship among three dreamers. The play with music is making its regional premiere.

“It is a beautiful, simple, evocative story about friendship. It's about those strange, sometimes brief friendships that form around very particular circumstances, with a significance we never really understand until they're over. When I first read it, I was struck by how much I identified with the story, and how joyfully unsettling it is,” Heimbuch says.

Hnath’s play, presented with Mixed Blood, takes a look at faith via a modern Evangelical church. Set entirely within the church, it follows the impact of a pastor giving a real mic drop of a sermon.

“Within The Christians, I'm most interested in the fact that the story doesn't address the difference between believers and non-believers, but rather what happens when believers disagree or change. It really addresses the human component of where our beliefs fall, and how the faith in something unchanging causes so much upheaval in a changing world,” Rummenie says.

Over the past decade, Walking Shadow has become an important Twin Cities home for intriguing new works or off-the-wall concepts, such as the Minnesota Fringe Festival hit William Shakespeare’s Land of the Dead. That commitment has meant numerous memorable productions and plenty of kudos on end-of-the-year best-of lists.

“This year we tried to place a stronger emphasis on new plays and regional premieres, while also developing the ongoing conversations prompted by our work, like hope, faith, sexuality, creativity. Seems like themes of existential uncertainty and the nature of mortality kind of emerged from our show selection this year,” Heimbuch says.

A Midwinter Night’s Revel

Red Eye Theater

December 4 - 30

The Aliens

Red Eye Theater

February 12 - 27

Lasso of Truth

The Playwrights' Center

April 15 - May 1

The Christians

Mixed Blood Theatre

May 20 - June 11

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