Kushner, art attacked, getting soapy

The big news this week is that Tony Kushner (“Angels in America”) has been contracted to write and premiere a new play at the Guthrie, in 2009. It’s bound to be provocative with a working title like “The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures.” And it’s hard to believe it won’t be good, too–Kushner is perhaps the only star playwright these days precisely because he rarely missteps. Better than most, he seems able to keep the pull all the right strings at all the right times in all the right places, and it never feels hackneyed or cheating or phoned-in. That’s rare. And his premiere here will be a rare treat, a feather in the city’s cap. But let’s hope he isn’t cursed by us…

The last major major playwright to premiere at the Guthrie, unless you count Brian Friel, whose “Home Place,” now playing there, is a mixed bag, was Arthur Miller, about six years ago. Surefire, right? Nope. Flashes of brilliance, but plenty of slack that wasn’t pulled in by opening night. Perhaps it’s really just the rare insight we get here into the rawness of new work, but you can’t help wondering, too, if we’re simply a safer place to debut new work before polishing it up for New York. Probably not–with the media nowadays, news of a flop anywhere gets out in a hurry–but they used to say that about Broadway shows here: debut in Minneapolis, they’ll give you a standing ovation no matter what. Good press. But maybe that’s changing, too–when I saw “The Home Place,” it was one of the first times ever, especially at the Guthrie, that a majority of people did not stand to applaud.

So, this weekend–Art Attack at the Northrup King Building in Northeast Minneapolis, held Fri-Sun, Nov. 2-4, should attract anyone looking to see the most local art with the least effort (full disclosure: I’m readying my photography in a studio there for this show, as well). One notable special event–Icebox Gallery is hosting a blues party, hosted by Jazz88, on Saturday from 7 to 9.

Before you go, check out New York magazine’s recent feature: “Has Money Ruined Art,” on the art scene’s insane popularity these days.

Also, check out The Festival of Appropriation, over at the Soap Factory, sponsored by MnArtists.org. Curated by two people who not only know their stuff but could certainly qualify as hipsters: Some Assembly Required’s Jonathan Nelson and l’etoile magazine’s Kate Iverson. On Friday, November 2, from 7 to midnight, they open with a live show by hip-hop producer and collage artist Steinski.

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