Best Of

Ten Thousand Things

The play’s the thing at this lauded company. Ten Thousand Things perform without stage lights and with minimal (though well chosen) props and settings in a myriad of non-traditional locations around Minnesota, a fact that hones the focus onto the actors and the script. For founder and primary director Michelle Hensley, that approach means the shows – even difficult ones – are instantly accessible to any audience, even to the non-traditional audiences Ten Thousand Things plays to with each production. Touring prisons, homeless shelters, community centers, and other venues, the company reaches out to people who may have never seen a live play before. But that doesn’t mean the action is dumbed down at all. These audiences are savvy and know when the actors aren’t being “true.” For everyday theatergoers, that means the public performances – usually four weekends of any given show at Open Book or the Minnesota Opera Center – are often some of the best each year in the Twin Cities. Hensley’s brilliant approach to Shakespeare – in the likes of Othello and Measure for Measure – proves that even the sticky language of the Bard can work for anyone, while the company’s deconstructed musicals have breathed life into the likes of My Fair Lady and Man of La Mancha. The company has earned numerous plaudits for their work and Hensley’s approach has been noticed in places like New York.