If you were looking for a single person to represent the arts and culture scene in Fergus Falls, Rebecca Petersen would be a really fine choice.
Earlier this week Petersen, the director of "A Center for the Arts" gave me a whirlwind tour of the cultural offerings of the eclectic small college town. We visited the art department at MN State Community and Technical College, checked out the relatively new Kaddatz gallery, visited the Lakes Region Art Council, and stopped in at "The Spot," the local wine bar that hosts spoken word, live music, and open mic nights. And then there's her own Center for the Arts, located in an old vaudeville house turned movie theater, that hosts everything from Gamelan music to an International Guitar Summit to theater. Not bad for a town of 13,000 people.
Walking through the streets, Petersen waved and greeted by name practically everyone we saw. Petersen writes articles in the paper about upcoming cultural events, and even appears on the local TV channel. This week, she and her husband are making a daily drive to Fargo/Moorhead in the evenings for rehearsals of the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony; Petersen plays the violin, her husband plays the cello.
Rebecca Petersen stands beside the movie equipment in the office space of "A Center for the Arts" in Fergus Falls.
Petersen sounds a bit like a one-woman visitors bureau as she speaks with pride of her town's cultural scene:
The arts are an integral part of life here - as evidenced by the college setting, the roadside poetry, the art galleries, the dance schools, the music instruction, the performing arts venues. Getting more directly involved in the arts in a town like Fergus Falls is easier...you have time and space and money to afford it all. Fergus Falls is VERY affordable. Tickets are more affordable. Parking is more affordable. Food and restaurants are more affordable.
Petersen is part of a team of cultural leaders who are organizing a "rural arts summit" in Fergus Falls next June. Petersen says she's hoping to attract people from rural areas all over the country to talk share ideas about building rural arts, culture and heritage:
There will be opportunities to do art and to hear art and to see art and to talk about art and to network and to also travel around the region to see all of the great art happening in Fergus Falls, NY Mills, Elbow Lake, Battle Lake, Barret, Detroit Lakes, and the countryside and landscape artists all over the place out here.
Petersen says the summit arises out of the fact that there are particular challenges that face cultural organizations based in rural areas. For instance, scheduling is key when half of your audience can be taken away by a wedding, funeral or sports tournament.
It's also difficult to identify target audiences and markets, especially when some feel that they will only find quality arts experiences if they travel to a larger metropolitan area. Then there's also the challenge of several generations in rural areas where arts and culture did not play a major role in social, community and educational programming.
Petersen says too often people take for granted their cultural and artistic connections, whether it's their church choir or community band or local museum. But she says these are all worthy cultural experiences, whether they happen in a bustling metro area or on a back country road.
Posted at 9:39 AM on November 10, 2010
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: News and reviews
Minnesota playwrights join the 35th annual Humana Festival of New Plays
- Ed Huyck, City Pages
Several playwrights with Minnesota ties will be featured in the 35th annual Humana Festival of New American Plays, to be held in February through April in 2011 at the Actors Theatre of Louisville.
Interact's "Life is Sweet" depicts a journey helped along by people with Down Syndrome
- Sheila Regan, TC Daily Planet
Director Tod Peterson came up with the idea for the production when he discovered the shocking statistic that 90% of expectant parents who discover their unborn babies have Down Syndrome terminate the pregnancy. He realized that those with Down Syndrome, many who have qualities he strives for such as self confidence, love, humor, and honesty, will become much fewer in future decades.
Thriller goes slapstick - Graydon Royce, Star Tribune
The Guthrie's staging of "The 39 Steps" goes cheek to chic with a deftly comic style.
Sisters threatened by outside world- William Randall Beard, Star Tribune
In "10 Virgins," Theatre Unbound finds a modern parable in a feminist fairy tale.
'10 Virgins' offers puppetry, plus a look into the depths of the human soul
- Ed Huyck, City Pages
There's a lot going on in 10 Virgins, Theatre Unbound's latest work now playing at the Lowry Lab Theater.
Take this job and love it - Graydon Royce, Star Tribune
Nathan Keepers plays a restaurant reservation clerk balancing impossible demands and impossible characters in this frenetic, fun tour de force.
Stars named for Moscow Ballet's 'Nutcracker,' coming here next month- Joe Kimball, minnpost.com
The Moscow Ballet's "Great Russian Nutcracker" is coming to Rochester and Minneapolis in early December and will feature the company's award-winning couple Cristina and Alexei Terentiev.
Dancing with elephants at the Southern
- Camille LeFevre, MinnPost.com
No, you aren't dreaming. Yes, there will be an elephant in a dance performance this weekend, or rather, a dancer in a plush pachyderm costume.
Omnimax Theater in Duluth to close in April
- Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune
Dan Russell, director of the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, said he has notified the IMAX Corp. that the DECC will let its IMAX equipment lease expire in April, which will signal the end of the theater's 15-year run.
Good 'Morning' America - Colin Covert, Star Tribune
The glory here is seeing a snappy, well-made comedy in which stars and story are beautifully matched.
What's the story, 'Morning Glory'? - Chris Hewitt, Pioneer Press
It's the same story that was done better in 'Prada' and 'Broadcast News'
Midnight movies, from "Rocky Horror" to "Nightmare on Elm Street" to "The Room"- Jim Brunzell III, TC Daily Planet
The midnight movie is a great experience, especially when you go with a group of friends, get popcorn and soda, and go into the theater to grab a seat and enjoy the "witching" hour.
Alex Kuno: 100 Creatives - Jessica Armbruster, City Pages
Alex Kuno's prolific series The Miscreants of Tiny Town features children, but they are hardly the saccharine representations of youth we so often see. Kuno has less in common with Disney, and more with the Grimm Brothers, Edward Gorey, and other macabre storytellers.
Philadelphia Art Museum breaks ground on Frank Gehry-designed underground expansion project - - Joann Loviglio , Associated Press
It's not typical for a loading dock to be the celebrated subject of a groundbreaking ceremony, but Frank Gehry is not your typical architect.
At First Avenue, a community says good-bye to Mikey "Eyedea" Larsen
- Jay Gabler, TC Daily Planet
Micheal Larsen, known as "Mikey" to his friends, died in his sleep on October 16, and the cause of death is not yet known, so there wasn't even an explanation for Larsen's tragically untimely demise. There was no disease to fight, no violence to decry. Eyedea is simply not with us any longer, and the First Ave event was a surprisingly intimate, brave acknowledgement of that fact.
Cloud Cult's incredible journey brings them back home - Jeff Gage, City Pages
First Avenue to host nationally acclaimed local band
Talented trumpeter shows Ordway audience around the repertoire
By Rob Hubbard, Pioneer Press
If a friend is visiting your town for the first time, you'd naturally want to show them around, hitting all of the best places along the way. Alison Balsom seemed intent on doing something similar at the Ordway Center on Tuesday night.
Lightsey Darst gets dark with her new book 'Find the Girl'- Coco Mault, City Pages
Lightsey Darst is a busy woman. An artist recently featured on the local television show MN Original, she is not only a poet, but a dance critic, English instructor, and a ballet dancer (not professionally). This past April, Coffee House Press published Darst's first full-length book of poetry--and it's dark.
Historian's look at China's great famine is groundbreaking - Frank Bures, Star Tribune
Historian Frank Dikötter uncovers cannibalism and staggering death numbers in his new look at China's famine.
Nathan Keepers in Fully Committed... again.
Critics really want to give a rave review. They must, because I can't figure out why else three different Twin Cities theater critics would go to review a one-man-show that's been done twice before with the same actor, the same director, and even the same set designer.
The show got rave reviews the first time around. And the second.
Surprise! This time around the reviews are, well, pretty much the same.
From Graydon Royce at the Star Tribune:
'Keepers is back at the Jungle Theater with this one-man frolic and if anything the work is richer. He plays Sam, who is stuck in the cluttered basement of a four-star restaurant on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Sam is a phone jockey handling reservations, shuttling calls over to the chef and stamping out fires (or cleaning lavatories) with frenzied skill. At the same time, he juggles family calls, checks his voice mail account at Village Voice personals and monitors whether he got a callback in that big audition at Lincoln Center. For Sam -- like 80 percent of the restaurant staff in New York -- is an aspiring actor.'
From Dominic Papatola at the Pioneer Press:
'It would almost be enough for an actor to successfully ping-pong among these characters, keeping each distinct. But Keepers does so much more. Sure, his cigarette-chomping shrieking as the angry patron Mrs. Sebag is priceless; so is his sibilant, terminally perky interpretation of a supermodel's personal assistant and his crotch-grabbing take on the establishment's top chef as a hung-over frat boy with a hair-trigger fuse.
But Keepers also is able to transcend the essential man-of-a-thousand-voices gimmick of the show. Throughout all of the chaos and machination, Keepers keeps his eye on the central story, delivering a highly ornamented but still clearly told story of a young Everyman who eventually figures out that it's better to work the system than to get chewed up and spit out by it.'
And from Matthew Everett at TC Daily Planet:
'This script isn't just someone taking dictation, it's been finely crafted. Over time, key callers emerge, vital information is slipped in but never as clunky exposition, and Sam slowly starts to wield the power that is being presented to him in order to get what he wants, in his career and in life. But it never feels manipulative or predatory. Since Sam is such a decent guy--evinced in how he interacts with all the people around him--we want him to win. It's a great payoff for an audience to watch that taking shape, one conversation at a time, right before our eyes. Because the world of the script, inside and outside those basement walls, is so keenly observed in rich and funny detail, one good actor guided by a skilled director is all you need. For the Jungle, setting Keepers and Stangl loose on a script like Fully Committed is the equivalent of printing money.'
So, if for some reason you didn't like Fully Committed - let us know! It would be a surprising change of pace.
"Open Season" gets an encore screening at "In Search of Asia" at Minnesota Film Arts on Sunday at 3.30 (Image courtesy Lu Lippold)
When asked what reactions have surprised her to "Open Season," the new documentary on the violent confrontation near Rice Lake Wi, which left six people dead, co-director Lu Lippold pauses for a moment.
"After the last screening at St Anthony Main we had a lot of very sad people," she says.
She realized that after working for five years on the film she had become inured to the material, which includes video of the crime scene which was included in the trial of Chai Vang.
"Maybe I had forgotten that it did pack an emotional wallop," she says.
An extra screening of the documentary at 3.30pm Sunday at the "In Search of Asia" film Festival after a strong reaction at the first screening
Lippold says the incident where Hmong hunter Vang killed the members of a group after a dispute as to whether he was trespassing has been largely forgotten by most people, but to the communities involved, it's still very fresh.
"It's interesting how recent this is in the Asian community for sure, and every anniversary in the Rice Lake community as well," she says.
"It's very present and it's somewhat I would say, unresolved as I'm learning as we show it around town and people have very strong reactions."
She says seeing the film has also proved uncomfortable for many of the non-Hmong audience members.
"I think for the urban progressive white audience there is a lot of unpleasant revelation about what I think just has to be called racism. And possibly anti-immigration sentiment that is a little more close to the surface than we'd like to acknowledge in most cases."
She stresses this was not just during the confrontation, but again and again as they worked on the film she and her co-director Mark Tang ran into stories of racist attitudes towards Asians.
She stresses everyone agrees this in no way justifies what happened in Rice Lake. However they did come upon members of the Hmong community who still feel the legal system did not treat Vang well.
"They really feel that this was not a fair trial, like the OJ trial," she says. "People just don't see (the trial) the same way."
Lippold says they are still working on the final sound mix of the film, and fundraising for to cover the final costs. The plan is to put the documentary on the film festival circuit, and then local and potentially a national broadcast on Public Television.
"But there are no guarantees," she says.
There is also the possibility of screening the film in Wisconsin, near where the crime took place.
"We have not shown this in Rice Lake or the surrounding communities, so I don't know what the the reaction will be like there," she says.
Lippold says they want to show the film to two members of the victims families who they interviewed for the documentary. They will then decide about showing it in Hayward or Rice Lake.
"With some sort of protective discussion around it I hope," she says.
Mark Tang will be present at Sunday's screening. Lippold who will be travelling also hopes to be back in time for the q and a afterwards.(2 Comments)