The hounds highlight a wild piece of theater by some radical 20-something practitioners, a film festival dedicated to a '40s-era screen star who sang and acted her way into the hearts of her admirers, and a local cellist who can improvise in a number of genres.
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mnartists.org editor Susannah Schouweiler says "Care Enough," the latest production from the Minneapolis group Savage Umbrella Theater, is not theater for the faint-hearted, or for your children. It's an incredibly ambitious, somewhat non-linear collection of ideas, scenarios and states of mind that form a portrait of the state of our world. And it's the kind of risky theater Susannah yearns for.
Shahzore Shah, a tenor with the all male Twin Cities vocal ensemble Cantus, deeply respects musicians who effortlessly glide from genre to genre. Shazore says Cory Grossman is one such cellist, a classically trained artist who can also improvise within a broad stylistic spectrum of music. Grossman will perform as part of his cello duo with Liz Draper, Grossman Draper, on Tuesday June 12 at Cafe Maud in Minneapolis. He also be performing on Wednesday, June 13 at the Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar in St. Paul with poet Lisa Brimmer and friends.
Singers Maria Jette (left) and Maud Hixson (right) so admire the singing and acting chops of their '40s-era idol Deanna Durbin, they took a tag team approach to talking about the festival of her films at the Heights Theater in Columbia Heights. "Deanna Durbin: The Queen of Universal," will feature a Deanna Durbin movie every Thursday in June and the first Thursday of July.
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Posted at 9:45 AM on June 7, 2012
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Poetry
The Library of Congress has named 46 year old Natasha Trethewey as the next U.S. Poet Laureate. Trethewey's collections "Bellocq's Ophelia" and "Domestic Work" were both published by Graywolf Press in Minneapolis.
The New York Times reports that Trethewey, who teaches creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta, is the first Southerner to hold the post since Robert Penn Warren, the original laureate, and the first African-American since Rita Dove in 1993.
Unlike the recent laureates W. S. Merwin and her immediate predecessor, Philip Levine, both in their 80s when appointed, Ms. Trethewey, who will officially take up her duties in September, is still in midcareer and not well-known outside poetry circles. Her work combines free verse with more traditional forms like the sonnet and the villanelle to explore memory and the racial legacy of America. Her fourth collection, "Thrall," is scheduled to appear in the fall. She is also the author of a 2010 nonfiction book, "Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast."
"The appointment of Natasha Trethewey is a very welcome event," said Dana Gioia, a former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts and an early admirer of her work. "She writes out of the complicated history of the region, and even from her own complicated history." In a phone interview explaining his choice James Billington, the librarian of Congress, said: "We're not necessarily on some kick to find a younger poet. The more I read of it, American poetry seems extremely rich in diversity, talent and freedom of expression, and she has a voice that is already original and accomplished. I have an affinity for American individuals who are absolutely unique, and I think that this is one."
You can find out more about Trethewey, and read her poetry, here.
This week, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright John Patrick Shanley joined members of the Minnesota Opera to work on a new adaptation of his play "Doubt."
Director Kevin Newbury, left, discusses a point with librettist John Patrick Shanley and composer Douglas Cuomo. Conductor Christopher Franklin works with singers in the background.
MPR photo/Euan Kerr
MPR's Euan Kerr met up with Shanley, who says that telling the story through opera allows him to further explore nuances in the tale.
Shanley is unusual in the writing world. Not many playwrights get to write the screenplay for a movie based on their play. Even fewer get to write the operatic libretto. It's been a learning experience.
For the movie, Shanley says he has to re-write the story so that the dialog-heavy scenes work better for the camera. For the opera, he has had to learn new ways of working with nuance as the story is sung.
"I said to Doug Cuomo the composer that two people in the scene can be in complete disagreement but in musical terms they are very much in agreement, and that is a fascinating different kind of subtext," he said.
Each version of the story has built on the one before, Shanley said.
"I would say it would be rough to go in reverse order, because it's hard to give things up, and in opera you got it all."
You can read/listen to the full story here.
Editor's Note: This piece by Nikki Tundel is part of a series called Minnesota Mix. Minnesota Mix is a project of Minnesota Public Radio News that examines the way youth and ethnic diversity are influencing Minnesota arts and culture. Enjoy!
Young Christians wait in the hallway of Church of All Nations until they're called in for the children's sermon.
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel
COLUMBIA HEIGHTS, Minn. -- Studies show that Christian churches are among the most segregated gathering places in the United States -- by one account over 90 percent of congregations are comprised of just one racial or ethnic group.
Church of All Nations in Columbia Heights sees itself as a national leader in challenging that spiritual status quo. It's a place where Native American quilts hang just outside the sanctuary, a toddler in traditional Vietnamese dress can be seen crawling beneath a wooden pew and Swahili echoes from the pulpit. More than 25 different countries are represented in the congregation.
The Twin Cities ministry was founded in 2004 by Pastor Jin Kim.
"We're really a whole bunch of misfits," said Kim, who says the church was founded in 2004. "We basically draw people who are uncomfortable in mainstream homogeneity."
Services at Church of All Nations in Columba Heights, Minn., include time for testimony. Churchgoers share both their blessings and their struggles with the rest of the congregation.
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel
"I'm Japanese American," Hikari Nakane said. "I'm a third-culture person. I don't belong fully in being Japanese. I don't belong fully in being white. So I relate to people who kind of belong nowhere. Being at this church, I've been allowed to be myself freely."
Being a multicultural church requires more than just demographic diversity. For example, Kim says, a Norwegian-American congregation may happily welcome Mexican-American members. But it's unlikely the church's Scandinavian traditions will grow to include Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico's patron saint, on the front altar.
What makes Church of All Nations unique is that no group is dominant, the pastor says. Worship is a blend of everyone's religious customs.
"We want people to really know that their culture not only welcome here but will impact the church," he said. "The church will change because of them. That's a bigger claim than I find many churches willing to make."
David Nguyen and his 15-month-old son Khoa talk with fellow congregants Claude and Kate Betene in the hallway of Church of All Nations in Columba Heights, Minn., on May 27, 2012.
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel
Church of All Nations attracts many recent immigrants. But the numbers of Minnesota-born Caucasians are really on the rise. Ten years ago, white members were five percent of the congregation. Today they're almost half.
The way white congregant Steve Wrangham sees it, offices and schools and movie theaters can bring diverse communities together. Why shouldn't his place of worship?
"It just didn't feel right for us personally to be attending churches that didn't reflect the greater community in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area," Wrangham said.
On this day, Pastor Jin Kim dons traditional Korean dress in honor of his family's heritage. Next week he'll wear a robe from Dubai or maybe South Africa to celebrate his congregants' cultures.
Pastor Jin Kim (left) presents Adam Kong to the congregation after baptizing him at Church of All Nations in Columba Heights, Minn., on May 27, 2012.
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel
Churchgoer Claude Betene rocks his baby daughter in his arms. Both are wearing bright purple outfits from Senegal. The African immigrant says Church of All Nations was the first place in America that he felt welcome.
"When you move to the U.S., you basically start from zero, from scratch," said Betene. "All the experience, all the degrees or whatever you have, forget it."
In Africa, Betene was both a teacher and a preacher. People sought his insight. But that never happened in the United States -- at least not until he came here.
"This church is the first place and I think only place where I have felt like my background was important," he said. "I felt respected and that was the first time I felt like I was somebody, like a human being with a value."
Claude Betene wraps his daughter in a blanket. When the service is over, they'll head downstairs for the Sunday afternoon potluck, which, at this church, is more like an international buffet.
At Church of All Nations in Columbia Heights, Minn., the weekly, after-service potluck offers Korean entrees, African specialties and everything in between.
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel