It's a huge leap for an actor or director to go from working on other people's productions to starting up his or her own company. And frankly, while putting on a show can be fun, there's a lot of paperwork and bureaucracy that comes with running a company.
The Peanut Butter Factory is a new company in town that offers to take on the business side of theater, and leave the artists free to do what they do best - the art.
Leigha Horton and Adam Whisner in The Peanut Butter Factory production "Gruesome Playground Injuries"
CREDIT: Richard Fleischmann Photography
According to co-founder Christopher Kehoe, The Peanut Butter Factory was actually the name of a stillborn improv team out of Brave New Institute.
One night in January 2010, we had a phenomenal set and swore right then and there that we were going to do a show for that year's MN Fringe (applications were still open). Our name was drawn, but the enthusiasm fizzled out shortly thereafter. I had also been sitting on an idea for a solo performance piece for a while, so I decided to simply inherit our slot. Because the Fringe doesn't allow the "Producer's Name" field to change, the name of The Peanut Butter Factory stuck.
Then Kehoe collaborated with director Natalie Novacek on another show. They used The Peanut Butter Factory name because it was easier to market than "presented by Natalie Novacek and Christopher Kehoe."
After a third production the name stuck, and Kehoe says they realized they had a sort of theater company, but it was more of a straw-man placeholder for whenever they were up to a full production. And what was wrong with that?
There's an unwritten law in this town that having a theater company somehow legitimizes an artist's work. I don't want to dismantle that notion so much as challenge it. This model is really meant to cater to passionate, individual theater artists ready to self-produce their own work (there's no way this administration could peacefully co-exist with another company's administration). By partnering with The Peanut Butter Factory, a producing artist is no longer working in a vacuum; today's project can benefit from yesterday's inroads with the press, public, advertisers, local businesses, and also help pave the way for future producing artists.
Kehoe adds - and recognizes he could catch hell for saying it - that artists make lousy administrators:
Artists are historically bad at administrating themselves. As a freelance actor, I have been in many situations where the art has suffered from the "producer" (director, or playwright, or lead, or all three) wearing too many hats. With The Peanut Butter Factory, you have an administrative body saying to the producing artist "go make a show, only worry about the show, we'll keep our hands out of your process" and then turning around and saying to the public "we're excited to bring you the work of [Producing Artist]" That alone is a much more refreshing narrative than an artistic director begging: "come see MY show from MY theater company."
Kehoe says this model allows artists to produce work without getting tied down to a long-term commitment. And he's careful to insist that the staff of The Peanut Butter Factory are not there to critcize the work - they're just there to smooth the bumps in the road on the way to getting it onstage an in front of an audience.
I'd like to think that no application would ever be rejected out of hand, only returned to its owner showing the areas that still need to be developed. I'm hoping that, by letting the artistic side develop without any administrative meddling, a subtle curation begins to float to the surface: confident theater that truly reflects the artists who are making it. Whether that theater is "good" or "bad" is decided entirely within the person who experiences it.
Kehoe points to the closing of Theatre de la Jeune Lune in 2008, which sent shockwaves through the theater community. Kehoe says while the closing was unfortunate, the fact is that nobody died, and almost all of those talented artists continue to work in the Twin Cities today.
I guess the best possible outcome would be if The Peanut Butter Factory could "future-proof" the Twin Cities theatre community. Theatre companies will come and go, business models can't always predict the future, and public money can dry up in one election cycle. So, in the face of all that, here is an organization that cuts through companies and speaks to the needs of individual artists.
I'm not deluding myself in how little profit we'll see. If self-produced work from already-talented artists can be better managed and promoted, that's the far more precious "profit" in my book. If The Peanut Butter Factory can lift the tide for artists even a little bit, then everyone's boat will benefit (mine included).
A hard partying pop metal purveyor, a multimedia narrative about grief and bowling, and a solo performer's exploration of the 'happiness industry,' have whetted the hounds' art appetites this week.
St. Paul photographer Julie Caruso admires artist Anna Eveslage's ability to weave a poignant, personal tale about grief, healing, and bowling, through pictures and audio. Julie says Eveslage's installation "FRANK: A Photographic Story of Love, Death, and Bowling" is the story of a man who copes with the death of his wife by immersing himself in their favorite hobby, bowling. It's on view at the Trylon Microcinema on Thurs. March 22 every half hour from 6:30 to 10:30pm.
How much is your contentment dependent on the happiness industry? Comedic musician and storyteller Courtney McLean says powerhouse solo performer Seth Lepore will help you clarify. Courtney says Lepore's new show, "SuperHappyMelancholyexpialidocious" skewers mega-churches, self-help books and the positive thinking movement with a zeal that will bring you happiness. On stage at the Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis on March 22, 24 and 25 at 7pm.
Freelance music writer Jon Garrett says if you look close enough, deep below the surface of pop metalist Andrew W.K.'s wild, hedonistic exterior, and between the lines of his party-till-you-puke lyrics, you'll find a theme that unites all his songs...the need to PARTY! HARD! Andrew W.K. will be holding court in First Avenue's Mainroom on Thursday and you're invited to get your PARTY on. Jon says Andrew W.K. will be playing his seminal first album, "I Get Wet," in its entirety.
Art Hounds is powered by the Public Insight Network.
"The Hunger Games" opens across the nation at midnight tonight, and thousands of people, young and old, can't wait to see the movie version of the beloved book by Suzanne Collins.
Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) waits nervously as names are drawn at the annual Hunger Games lottery known as the Reaping.
Photos courtesy of Lionsgate Films
MPR's Euan Kerr spoke with young adults who lined up for hours to see the cast of the movie at the Mall of America:
University of St. Thomas senior Andrea Gussell caught the Hunger Games bug from her younger brother:.
"Some people are saying that there's more of a political undertow to this series," she said. "It is a little bit more aimed towards adults and not as much children, even though children are getting into the series."
Gussell went early to the recent Mall of America appearance by stars from the film. She soon discovered 4 a.m. wasn't early enough.
"There were thousands of people; the line wrapped at least halfway around the mall," she said.
How is the cast of The Hunger Games handling all the pressure? Kerr got a chance to find out, when he sat down with Jennifer Lawrence and other stars from the film:
You can listen to Kerr's story by clicking on the audio link, and watch an interview with other cast members here.
Posted at 11:30 AM on March 22, 2012
by Euan Kerr
Filed under: Film
Bela Tarr was very emphatic about the use of terms on the phone from Budapest the other day.
"I am sorry, I am not a storyteller, I am a film maker," the man known to some as the greatest living Hungarian director growled down the line.
He paused then laughed softly. "Excuse me."
We were talking about Tarr's latest, and he says last, movie "The Turin Horse." Co- produced by Minneapolis-based Werc Werk Works , and a hit on the European festival circuit, the movie opens tonight for its local theatrical run this weekend at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
Tarr first heard about the horse in question in 1985 at a lecture which concluded with a story about how in 1889 the philosopher Friedrich Neitzsche stepped out of the house where he was staying in Turin in Italy and saw a coachdriver mercilessly whipping his collapsed horse. Neitzsche rushed in to stop the violence and ended up sobbing with his arms wrapped around the animal's neck. Taken back to his rooms he lay silent on his bed for two days, said a few words, and then didn't speak again for the ten years until he died.
And that's when the lecturer added an idea which was to obsess Tarr and his friends.
"We don't know what happened with the horse."
Bela Tarr makes movies which are the antithesis of Hollywood action flicks. They are long, and beautifully shot, allowing audiences to spend time in his characters lives. It's the kind of material which hardcore art film fans love, and the kind of stuff which some people point to as why they hate art film. One of his movies lasts five hours. A couple of years ago, after 34 years of film making Tarr announced he was about to make his last, and he said it could really only be about the horse.
"When I knew the last film will come, we had to turn back to this question," Tarr said, his Hungarian-inflected English thickening the cadences of the words.
"The Turin Horse" opens with the coachman driving his horse and cart back to his remote home in the countryside. As a storm gathers, the wind lashes at man and beast turning the journey into a purgatorial slog. It's shot in black and white which adds to the stark effect. Tarr's camera is relentless, swinging alongside the travellers, closing up to their faces blinded by the rain, then swinging back, unblinking to reveal their slow, desperate, progress.
It's classic Tarr. As the film continues we learn the coachman is disabled, he has lost the use of one arm. He lives with his daughter, where all they have to eat is potatoes. And they all know as they stare out the window as the storm keeps rising, that the horse is old, spent and dying.
"He needs his horse because without this horse he has no job. He has no money, he cannot eat, he cannot do it, he can't do anything," Tarr explains.
The Turin Horse is almost two and a half hours long, but it only has 30 carefully choreographed shots. Tarr says he and his crew filmed the entire thing is just six days.
"You can see the whole movie is just very pure actions," he said "No dialog, nothing. Very simple. The people are just doing the simple daily life."
When asked if that simplicity is deceiving, and that the story touches on deeper more complex themes, Tarr gets testy. Again it's about terms
"Not a story! Being!" he barks "Please do not use this word with me, which is called story, because I don't like this word, story. What is means story? What is the story? The Old Testament? We are just listening for the life and we are just listening for the situations. Why we are using this stupid word which is called story? This is just an American showbusiness word. It's not connecting to our life. Your life is a story? No, you have days. And my life is also not a story. We have no stories."
At first he sounds as if he is angry, but it then becomes clear he's trying to explain how he makes movies.
"I am just telling to you the logic, our logic," he continues. "How we are thinking about the pure situations. This one is painful. This one is joyful. This one deeply touched me. It's a lot of things. Life is very rich."
Part of the tension is how Tarr sees the world. When asked if the film is really about mortality, he says it's about something simpler.
"No, just the end. How we are disappearing from the world. Because we will. All of us," he muttered. "And this is the most tragical thing, to know it. That we must leave from here. It's enough reason to be not really happy."
"The Turin Horse" won the Jury Grand Prix Silver Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival when it premiered there last year. Now it's making the rounds in the US.
The show at the Walker continues a relationship begun in 2007 when Tarr visited Minneapolis as the subject of a Regis Dialog and retrospective.
His connection with Minnesota continued with Werc Werk Works co-producing the film. When asked how he felt about working with the company Tarr again defines his terms.
"First of all you are not working with the company. You are working with persons," he stressed. "I was working with Elizabeth (Redleaf) and Christine Walker. They were perfect partners. They trust me and they believed me and I believed them and this was perfect."
When he talks about himself as a film maker he is already using the past tense. He said his work has to be regarded as a spectrum, and now he has reached the point where he has done what he needed to do. The Turin Horse is his last film, he said. There will be no more.
"This definitely looks like a last sentence. I just said, OK that was the filming in my life. And the life is very rich. I want to do another thing. Why is it necessary always to be a film maker? That's all what I want to say to you. It's done."
There will still be film in his life however. He says he loves the cinema, and now he is going to teach at a new school in Split.
(Image credits: all images courtesy Walker Art Center, except picture of Tarr which is an MPR file photo)
Minnesota's office of tourism is hoping that local crooners will woo you into exploring more of the state.
Local musicians - including Dessa, Haley Bonar, Chris Koza and Lucy Michelle - all lent their voices to a series of radio ads for Explore Minnesota's "More to Explore" campaign.
According to a press release the radio spots are airing in greater Minnesota and some radio stations in the Twin Cities through a marketing agreement with the Minnesota Broadcasters Association.
Above is a 60-second Dylan-esque music video created to highlight the lyrics and credit the Minnesota singers.
You can listen to all of the radio ads - including one specific to arts and culture - here.
Handy fact: Tourism is an $11.3 billion industry in Minnesota, employing 235,000 people.
Posted at 4:44 PM on March 22, 2012
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Film
The Coen brothers are looking for a few good men, including one John Goodman look-alike.
John Goodman - with facial hair - in the Coen brothers' film "The Big Lebowski"
The one-line summary for the film is "A singer-songwriter navigates New York's folk music scene during the 1960s."
According to the casting department, facial hair is a plus. The deadline to apply is Monday, March 26. Here are the details:
Coen Brothers film, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (2nd unit) seeks PHOTO DOUBLES in MN. Should be available Thurs 3/29, Fri 3/30 &/or Sat, 3/31. Submission instructions below (deadline: Mon March 26. 1pm EST).:
-- ROLAND TURNER (John Goodman): SALT & PEPPER GOTEE/MOUSTACHE! 6'1'', 275-300lbs (Jacket-57. Pants-56 waist. Shirt-20/35).
- LLEWYN DAVIS (Oscar Isaac): Dark brown thick to black hair, longer on top/shorter in back, TRIM BEARD/MOUSTACHE, some facial hair. 5'8", 165-170lbs (Jacket-40R. Pants-34/32. Shirt-15.5/32).
- JOHNNY FIVE (Garrett Hedlund): Dark blonde/light brown hair. TRIM MOUSTACHE/SLIGHT GOTEE, some FACIAL HAIR, incl sideburns. Ht- 6'2", 178lbs (Jacket-41L. Pants-33/33). * MUST BE COMFORTABLE DRIVING W/O EYEGLASSES (may wear contacts) & have valid drivers license.
There is PAY.
Men w/longer hair & facial hair/beard welcome to submit! Must be willing to cut/trim, as appropriate (to match our actors/reference photos).
To submit: Send email to Debbie DeLisi, CD, at email@example.com. In subject line put: "MN PD / character name - Your first & last name." Body-of-text must include: Your name, contact info, hair color, ht/wt, sizes/measurements. Also, measure your torso (while sitting on a flat surface, measure from surface to top of head, along backside. You must confirm you're willing to shave or trim hair/facial hair, as needed. Note if you are union (indicate which) or non-union & available all three days. You must include two CURRENT photos (as of TODAY!), one face & one full length. Do NOT send headshots. Informal, quick snapshots are best!
* "Johnny 5" character submissions must confirm having valid drivers license/comfort level driving.
Please do not submit or inquire about other roles, as we are shooting in NYC & casting is complete. Inquires of this nature will automatically be deleted.
You may FWD this email. But please do not fwd this email with your contact info as the "casting director" or any such related claim or title. We are the official casting representatives. Any other claim is fraudulent.
Thank You & Best wishes!
Debbie DeLisi, Casting Director
Kati Batchelder, Casting Associate
Adam DeLisi, Casting Asst.