Top Picks for 2014 Fall Performances in the Twin Cities
Top gems of this fall's performing arts season
Granted, it might be a line in the sand: those who are excited about descriptive terms such as “digital sound sculptures” and “real-time content feeds” pertaining to live performance, and those who will run without hesitation in the opposite direction. Fair enough, but I’m inordinately excited about Ryoji Ikeda’s superposition at the Walker this fall. It’s a hybrid of digital and real life, with electronic music and video screens added to the mix. The term “superposition” is cadged from quantum physics (wait, come back, really!), referring to the spooky reality that subatomic particles exist in all states at once until they are measured, at which time they settle down into occupying one reality. The ground floor of the universe, in other words, is always in a state of flux and limitless possibility—until it’s not.
New Kids in Town
Guthrie director Joe Dowling bows out next year after his 20th season and, as the Guthrie’s longest-serving chief by far, will leave a massively ranging and distinctive legacy in the Twin Cities arts world. This fall, the Guthrie welcomes a series of newcomers to the cobalt citadel. Writer/director Mary Zimmerman brings The White Snake, an ancient Chinese tale about a serpent spirit girl and the boy she loves (Cinderella through an Eastern prism); Broadway director Leigh Silverman helms Wendy Wasserstein’s coming-of-age The Heidi Chronicles, and Steppenwolf co-founder Jeff Perry directs A Steady Rain about the lifelong relationship between two policemen amid worldly turmoil. It’s apt—new faces arriving on the cusp of monumental transition.
The White Snake, 9.9-10.19
The Heidi Chronicles, 9.13-10.26
A Steady Rain, 10.14–11.2
Three years ago, Mixed Blood Theatre artistic director Jack Reuler launched Radical Hospitality, effectively making all seats at his company’s plays free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. The approach is starting to feel like normal, but don’t be fooled: The coyote trickster is perpetrating perhaps the most radical systemic rethink in the arts in the Twin Cities this decade. Mixed Blood’s fall highlight is Colossal, a football drama telling the story of a star athlete who suffers a spinal-cord injury that destroys his hopes of going pro—as well as altering the course of his love for one of his teammates. The play stars actor Toby Forrest, who is a quadriplegic, and includes four 15-minute quarters and a halftime show. Radical.
I’m as guilty as most of not including the classical composers in my musical diet on a regular basis—they’re notoriously poor at promoting themselves on YouTube—but whenever I return to Beethoven, it’s to an entire universe of yearning, searching, resignation, hope, and all the outsized dimensions of our species kicking and screaming its way into the machine age and beyond. The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra delivers a ton of Ludwig van through the fall in performances at the Ordway, including the mind-blowing Fifth and Eroica in October and the world-painting Pastoral in November. Any of these, especially played by an outfit such as SPCO, is capable of bringing you to sublime heights (and depths) of feeling—as well as tones and melodies that have tickled our ears in countless other forms throughout our lives.
Children’s Theatre Company is staging ambitious and adventuresome shows throughout its season—my bet for the fall is Seedfolks, a kaleidoscopic one-woman show featuring the captivating Sonja Parks. It’s recommended for grades 3–8—a breadth of range that suggests the universality of these 11 narratives tied together by a nine-year-old girl, who plants seeds in a vacant lot that blossom into rich neighborhood stories.