BEST THEATER FOR NEW WORK - 2004
Pillsbury House Theatre
3501 Chicago Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55404
With the possible exception of a musical version of The Odd Couple starring Donald Trump and Jesus Christ, any theatrical production is a financial risk. But staging a new script, in most cases, is an especially nail-biting affair for those in charge of budgets. Luckily, the Twin Cities has a number of theater troupes that fearlessly bring us new work. With its regular readings and world premieres, the Playwrights' Center deserves plaudits for developing new writers and working with established ones. And during the past 12 months, we've seen several excellent new plays from the Jungle Theater, the Guthrie Lab, Theatre Unbound, Mixed Blood Theatre, and others. But this year, special attention should go to Pillsbury House Theatre, whose offerings have been essential for those of us who don't want to climb on a plane (or wait 10 years) to see the plays we've been reading about in the New York press. In 2003, Pillsbury House presented Melissa James Gibson's touted [sic]. And, later, the company offered an exceptionally well-acted version of Stephen Adly Guirgis's Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train. Though these were must-see productions for the committed theatergoer, in all likelihood neither of those scripts will enter the canon. In March of this year, however, Chicago Avenue's finest theater staged a play that has a very good shot at attaining classic status: Caryl Churchill's war meditation Far Away. The four-person cast, under the direction of Noël Raymond, handled the challenging script's chilling brilliance with aplomb. Plus, Pillsbury House regularly collaborates with other local companies to put on new work, such as Zell Miller III's memorable spoken-word-and-music piece The Evidence of Silence Broken, a co-presentation with Trú Rúts Endeavors.