The arts week of the year so far

It always takes a while to get going after the holidays, but it’s safe to say we’re entering the meat of the Twin Cities performing arts season and it all starts over the next seven days. If there was ever a time to contemplate just how good we’ve got it here, artistically speaking (at least for the moment), this would be it.

Tonight, the Children’s Theatre Company opens the world premiere of Iqbal, the true story of a Pakistani boy sold into slavery at age 4 to work in a rug factory. He escapes six years later and becomes an influential advocate against child labor. And while the subject could easily have veered into a didactic “Child labor: bad!” or even a self-congratulatory “Hmph, glad I don’t live there!” the play incorporates more humor than expected and more storytelling–it’s not a news piece, it’s a deep and open-eyed look through the layers of a complex planet. The play runs through March 28.

Also tonight, and through March 10, the award-winning a cappella singers in Sweet Honey in the Rock celebrate their 35th anniversary together at O’Shaughnessy Auditorium. With roots running to the civil rights movement, the group of African-American women has added hip-hop to their arsenal of gospel, blues, spirituals and jazz music, but otherwise remains uncompromising in their call for community and justice. You’d have to be dead to listen to these women and not be moved, possibly to tears. And, their mission being what it is, they’re holding numerous community events along with their concerts. Check it out at

And we’re just getting started: Mary Easter, the well-known dance professor at Carleton College, performs her new work, Skin: Solo in a Crowd, at the Ritz Theater tonight and Saturday.

In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre continues its Beneath the Surface show through March 8, a wild ride through water, as it were, including magic toilets, dancing pipes, etc. And in case you’re wondering, yes it is related to the big artist-designed water fountain project that the city of Minneapolis is undertaking–HOBT director Sandy Spieler got the drop dripping on that project with her interest in renewable water resources.

Nimbus theater, ever agile, presents the regional premiere of a Tom Stoppard play, which practically guarantees a stimluating evening. It’s Pirandello’s Henry IV, and no one walks the line between sanity and madness better than Stoppard. Or Nimbus, for that matter. At the Theater Garage through March 29.

And we haven’t even gotten to Frank Theater at the Guthrie or Penumbra at the Guthrie — more on that as their shows approach in the middle of the week…