On a blistering summer afternoon in 2008, I met up with Theatre de la Jeune Lune artistic director Dominique Serrand on a North Loop sidewalk outside the theater to discuss one of the Twin Cities’ great losses of recent years: Jeune Lune’s just-happened financial implosion, its shuttering (the theater was quiet and dark inside, with pieces of old sets standing sentry like ghosts), and what might come next.
Jeune Lune was nothing short of a beacon in its three decades of existence. Housed in an architectural gem/artistic playground, its restless work pinpointed a throbbing, uneasy heart in material from Molière to Mozart, work delivered with beauty, agony, sex, death, and a paradoxical sophisticated naiveté that could, when all guns were firing, unite the audience’s heart, spirit, and mind with moments as indelible as bygone yet unforgotten dreams.
Well, so much for eulogies. Serrand talked that day about the structural contradictions in operating a regional theater—not least the self-feeding administrative and fundraising apparatus that coexist uneasily with artistic inspiration. In the years that have followed, he’s teamed with other Jeune Lune alums to found The Moving Company—an itinerant creative enterprise that has staged shows in the Twin Cities and around the country, forging a creative identity that can by now legitimately be called its own.
There’s no other team that could bring us the weird hybrid of Love’s Labour’s Lost—in which lines and text from other Shakespeare plays are grafted onto this early play, which in its usual form feels like a warm-up for later comedies and their identity swirls and gender bends. This was one of Jeune Lune’s signature tricks: having respect for canonical works but not reverence, and exhibiting the erudition and confidence to extract a timeless in-the-moment feel from works centuries old. It’s a vision that seeks to break down the distinctions between intellectualism and stormy feeling, making them one.
The Moving Company has done just that, producing shows on both coasts and in between, a second act unshackled by the gravity of an institution and delivering artistic alchemy like a new-century medicine show. I’ll admit to a feeling of defeat when Jeune Lune locked its doors—but excellence has never guaranteed existence. Now, the periodic return of this crew feels like a welcome and unexpected gift.
Love’s Labour’s Lost • The Lab Theater, 11/21–12/21 • thelabtheater.org