Many theater officianados have heard of the Public Theater in New York.
But have you heard of the Public Theater of Minnesota?
Nathan Cheesman, Ross Destiche and Briana Patnode in the 2011 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream
Photo by Andy Blenkush
In its third year, PTMN has been keeping a low profile while building a grassroots following in the west metro presenting summer productions of Shakespeare in Wolfe Park.
Now it's preparing for its first season of indoor professional productions in 2013.
Opening night of Romeo and Juliet in Wolfe Park
Photo by Mark Hauck
Artistic Director Mark Hauck comes with strong credentials - he founded the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona. But Hauck took a five year break from the theater business, instead teaching it to Hopkins High School teenagers.
Working at the high school and outside the cocoon of the arts world I started discovering anew how important the arts are for everyone. The act of art-making--creating something "special" and sharing it with someone--is fundamental to our health as individuals and as a community.
Jason Rojas as Oberon and Joshua Walker as Puck in the Public Theater of Minnesota's 2011 production of Midsummer Night's Dream
Photo by Andy Blenkush
Currently PTMN is performing Romeo and Juliet at Wolfe Park, and Hauck expects more than 2,000 people will attend the show by the end of its run.
Key to our success is the New Artist Company concept behind the summer productions. We hire 10-12 talented young artists (under age 24) from theater training programs. The combination of youthful energy, talent, evolving production values (as a our small budget allows), and a pleasant relaxed setting has proven magical for audiences and artists. We are thrilled that members of our New Artist Company have gone on to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Acting Company, The Guthrie Theater, and other well known theaters.
The ultimate vision for the organization, said Hauck, is to have three companies, one comprised of theater professionals, another by community members and a third made up of emerging artists ages 15 - 25.
The vision was in many ways inspired by the Citizens Theater of Glasgow, which has built a reputation for artistic excellence and community based programming by embracing the gifts and passions of artists of many ages and across the spectrum from amateur to professional.
Phil Eschweiler as Bottom and Anthony Simone as Peter Quince in the 2011 PTMN production of A Midsummer Night's Dream
Photo by Andy Blenkush
According to Hauck, working with young artists is key to creating civic-mindedness and to fostering a greater passion for art-making.
Our summer audience so far has trended a little younger--something we want to encourage. The connection between young artists and their peers or near peers is exciting to watch. For years we theater folks have talked about "greying" audiences and have tried to devise marketing and pricing and programming schemes to attract younger playgoers. Why not support highly visible work by young artists? What new understanding can they bring to the work?
Hauck says the company is still working on finding its new indoor performance home. Romeo and Juliet runs through July 22 at Wolfe Park in St. Louis Park.
Picture a freestyle rapper making up rhymes about people on Chatroulette. Imagine sitting in a field reading books with complete strangers. Think of what emotionally moving oil pastel drawings of a Duluth childhood might be like. Now you've identified what the hounds will be talking about this week.
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Nickolas Monson is co-founder of Prove Gallery in Duluth. Nickolas wants to spread the word about an emcee coming to Teatre Zuccone in Duluth who'll be rapping about an online audience, in front of a live audience. Ice Rod, aka Michael Gaughan, makes up rhymes on the spot about people he sees on the online chat service, Chatroulette. Ice Rod also decorates the stage to look like a dorm room. You can see him in Duluth on Saturday, July 14, at 8pm.
As a literary agent and owner of Red Sofa Literary in St. Paul, Dawn Frederick is always close to her closest companions...books. On Saturday, July 14, Dawn will be among a throng of like-minded book enthusiasts at Field of Reads," an event sponsored by the Walker Art Center's Open Field. Field of Reads runs from 11am - 5pm, and includes a book swap, information about "Little Free Libraries," storytelling for kids, and a mass read-in from noon to 1pm.
Duluth sculptor and writer Ann Klefstad is a longtime admirer of the work of artist Chris Monroe. Ann believes Chris's latest exhibition at the Duluth Art Institute represents her best work to date. It's a poignant collection of oil pastel drawings envisioning a childhood summer in Duluth. Through Sept. 30.
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