Archivists find value in things we often take for granted: old ticket stubs, playbills, and notes written in the margin of a script.
Today and tomorrow archivists, librarians and theater professionals from around the country are gathering at the University of Minnesota to talk about the importance of archiving the work of theaters.
University librarian Cecily Marcus, who organized "The Play Within a Play: Saving the Story of Your Theater's Productions," says people often don't realize what's at stake when the work of a theater company is lost to history:
As [the McKnight Foundation's] Neal Cuthbert said in a recent talk, the question of what American culture is has not yet been fully answered. It's theaters and the work of other arts organizations that are shaping the answers, and many of these companies operate outside of the walls of the country's largest cultural institutions. Cuthbert said, "By preserving the legacy of theaters, it becomes possible that others can gain support, meaning, faith, and energy from the work theaters do today."
Marcus says the current financial situation of Penumbra Theatre, and its decision to go dark for a season, underscores the urgency behind today and tomorrow's conference:
The history of African American theater, from its earliest influences to its current artists and thinkers, is not common knowledge. It's not taught in schools, it's not part of university curricula, it's not a well known part of American history. That means that the choices made by theaters of color--from the plays selected to choices made in set and costume design--are part of a larger, often unspoken context.
Marcus says context is important, especially for theaters of color, because their histories, if written at all, are too often written--and then revised--by others. She says it's possible that the lasting, well preserved archive of a theater may do more for making history than even the productions themselves.
The hounds hunt down a fight to the death among some Twin Cities writers, a festival celebrating the art of trading in Hewitt and celestial bodies and circuit bent music in Duluth.
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Duluth art consultant Peter Spooner is drawn to events which merge art and science, like Planet Drone. It happens Friday, Sept. 21 at 8:30pm at the UMD Planetarium and features a tour of the planets and their mythologies with live circuit-bent, experimental electronic music, and vocalizing as a sonic backdrop. Artists include Tim Kaiser, Paul Broman, and narrators/vocalists Unnur Andrea Einarsdottir and Ben Marsen.
Sara Watson Curry will be on the road this weekend, taking her first trip to Hewitt, Minn. to experience Barter Fest on Saturday Sept. 22. Sara is a worker/owner of the Red Raven Espresso Parlor in Fargo. At Barter Fest, which runs from 10am to midnight, you trade whatever you like, precious objects, art works, kitchen items, your skills etc., while a host of music acts from across the Upper Midwest entertain you.
Don't get writer, actor and producer Maggie Ryan Sandford wrong. She loves going to literary events of all kinds. But Maggie thinks that Literary Death Match distinguishes itself in the way it coaxes local writers out of their shells and turns them into bloodthirsty performers. The next Literary Death Match is Thursday, Sept. 20th at the Nomad World Pub in Minneapolis. It features writers Heid. E. Erdrich, Lara Avery, Patrick Nathan and R. Vincent Moniz, Jr. performing their works in front of judges Mary Mack, Dylan Hicks and Peter Bognanni.
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Posted at 8:08 PM on September 20, 2012
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Music
Years after their heyday, Twin Cities funk and soul bands are getting their due.
Maurice Young (right) and Sonny Knight (background) are two of the musicians featured on the 2012 Twin Cities Funk and Soul compilation by Secret Stash Records. Both men were fixtures on the Minneapolis music scene in the late 1960s.
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel
Twin Cities Funk and Soul: Lost R&B Groves from Minneapolis / St. Paul 1964 to 1979, compiles old area songs, including the music of the Valdons, a Twin Cities quartet that was a funk fixture in the 1960s. As MPR's Nikki Tundel reports, many of the featured artists will participate in an R&B revue at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis on Saturday.
The reunited Valdons are rehearsing for that gig, which will be the musicians' first time performing together in decades. Each song seems to spark a story, like the one Sonny Knight shares about band mate Maurice Young.
"Maurice taught me how to get ugly," said Knight. "So when we be singing and stuff like that, Maurice be over there and he be making all these faces. So I started doing it too and I started noticing I can get it out easier."
Then there are the stories they don't share -- at least not so freely -- like the ones about white club owners refusing to book black bands like theirs. Such discrimination, said Secret Stash's Danny Sigelman, were commonplace for Twin Cities R&B artists in the late 1960s.
"Segregation was gone, but it didn't mean it didn't exist in a lot of forms," Sigelman said. "A lot of these guys couldn't get gigs in town as a black band or a mixed band, so they'd actually have to rent out a hotel ballroom or something to play to an audience."