May 2010 Arts Calendar

7 Hot Picks: 5/6

Choreographer Uri Sands has collected gobs of national awards and commissions, in addition to selling out shows for TU Dance, the company he launched here in 2004 with his wife, Toni. But he’s never debuted an evening-length work—until now. Sense(ability), performed by TU Dance through May 16 at the Southern Theater, is the culmination of three years’ worth of smaller creations, each of which dramatize the ancient Hindu belief that our senses are somehow linked to the traditional elements: earth with smell, fire with sight, etc. Encompassing West African dance, ballet, and streetwise American moves, it’s an opus from a choreographer at the height of his game and, as with all TU Dance works, less heady to look at than it sounds: In a sequence linking touch and air, for example, a dancer grasps a white balloon and, as the lights dim, floats up with it toward the sky.


The annual May Day Parade meanders toward Powderhorn Park, where festivities continue with music, food, and the raising of the Tree of Life.


Kevin Kling’s Mom-O-Rama features the storyteller and musical guests in a Mother’s Day tribute at the Cedar Cultural Center.


Environmental sculptor Patrick Dougherty speaks at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum on the “Big Build,” an exhibit of giant organic sculptures that he’s creating there through May 22.


Ragamala Dance artistic director Aparna Ramaswamy rejoins the troupe after a yearlong hiatus for Ihrah: Sacred Waters, a new work at the Southern Theater about India’s sacred rivers and the worship of water.


Dollhouse, at the Guthrie Theater, updates Ibsen’s A Doll’s House with social satire for a new century.


Park Square Theatre stages Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily, a literary take on literature’s finest gumshoe, in which Oscar Wilde gets the best lines.




Ladies’ Night

Female comics get their due

“I think I’m a pessimist,” jokes Linda Aarons. “When I see a glass of water that’s half full, I think, ‘Why can’t that be vodka?’ ”

Aarons is performing at a recent Women Stand Up! cabaret at the Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater in Minneapolis, and the crowd loves it. But no one is laughing louder than the show’s creator and emcee, Dana Buchwald. After years of pondering her own half-full question—why aren’t there more female comedians?—Buchwald created this bimonthly show of female slam poets, comedians, and improv performers. “I figured I could be annoyed about the situation, or I could do something,” she explains before leaping up to announce the next act.

On May 8, Buchwald will celebrate another result of her agitation, Women Stand Up and Shoot, a comedic film competition. She’ll screen the films at the Bryant-Lake Bowl, award prizes, and host three nationally known, Minnesota-bred comedians: Lizz Winstead; Mary Jo Pehl, of Mystery Science Theater 3000; and stand-up comic Jackie Kashian.

“I want to see more women in comedy films!” shouts Buchwald when she returns to her seat. “There’s practically a movie a month that’s some sort of buddy comedy, with maybe one woman playing the sexy girlfriend.” Buchwald, who’s a lawyer when not onstage, rolls her eyes. “So I said, ‘Why don’t I have a film festival? Why don’t I try to generate the kind of movie I want to see?’” May 8,

Sitting Around

Penumbra Theatre’s extended family

Lou Bellamy and James Craven are sipping coffee at the Golden Thyme Café in St. Paul, with Bellamy facing the door. “At my age,” he jokes, “I’ve offended enough people to watch my back.” They talk about the old days here in the Rondo neighborhood: streetcars, cobblestones, curling. “My friends and I would watch white people go into that building,” Bellamy says, pointing toward the St. Paul Curling Club, “and we didn’t know what the hell went on in there.”

They’ve known each other a long time: Bellamy, the founding director of Penumbra Theatre, just around the corner; Craven, the venerable member of his company. In the early 1970s, Craven returned to the Twin Cities after college. “Everyone said, ‘You need to meet this brother named Lou Bellamy,’ ” Craven recalls. After nearly 30 years in theater together, they figure they harmonize as well as any company could. “You can’t buy that history,” Craven says.

As they talk, a mailman comes in, then a policeman, for coffee or a slice of sweet-potato pie. Eventually, the two thespians come around to the point: the staging at Penumbra this month of Two Old Black Guys Just Sitting Around Talking, starring Craven and company member Abdul Salaam El Razzac. “It’s about two men who have lost everything,” says Craven. “All they have is each other.”

Bellamy leans forward and slaps the table. “They gotta stick together!” he says. “They’re a couple old stags, and the wolves can bring them down pretty easily.” Craven laughs. “They love each other but they don’t always say it,” he adds. “They’re connected beyond their words.” Through May 23,


Two-Headed Author

Unmasking mother-daughter duo P.J. Tracy

P.J. and Traci Lambrecht are perched on the back porch of Traci’s home near Stillwater, munching prosciutto, Brie, and crackers. “The problem with working at home,” P.J. says between bites, “is that you eat every half hour.”

But they have reason to celebrate. Shoot to Thrill, the fifth Monkeewrench thriller written by this best-selling mother (P.J.) and daughter (Traci) team, known in print as P.J. Tracy, comes out this month. It’s their closest collaboration yet. They began writing stories together a couple decades ago, when Traci was at St. Olaf College in Northfield, and they’ve mostly lived apart, stitching stories together by e-mail and phone. But Traci returned to Minnesota from
Los Angeles two years ago, and now lives just a ten-minute drive from P.J.

At first, P.J. says, the sudden proximity gave them a strange case of writer’s block. Then they clicked. “We just know each other so well,” Traci says. “I have a different style when I’m writing alone, and so does P.J., but we have a P.J. Tracy voice. We joke that we only have one brain.”

What about tension, arguments, fights? “We always get asked, ‘Tell us about the fights! You must have fights!’ ” Traci says. “But we never do.” P.J. helps herself to another cracker. “We never disagree—it’s disgusting,” she says. Traci concurs: “It really is disgusting.” Putnam Adult ($25.95). Go to

Written by Alex Davy, Tim Gihring, Joel Hoekstra & Monica Wright

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