The politics of art

With the striking allegations leveled this week against the venerated Hmong leader Vang Pao, of a plot to overthrow the government of Laos in order to help the Hmong still being persecuted there, it seems a good time to mention the forthcoming publication of a local Laotian-American scholar.

Bryan Thao Worra, a poet, playwright, and community leader, knows as much about the history and culture of the Hmong in Asia and America as anyone. And he has performed his work here for years. (He is married to the Hmong playwright, journalist, and spoken-word artist Ka Vang.) In August, he will publish a collection of his work, On the Other Side of the Eye, ranging from secret wars to myth to the search for truth. It will be one of the first full-length books of poetry, he says, to appear within the expatriate Lao community since the end of the Vietnam War.

In less dramatic news, several of the area’s best actors have teamed up to open Taking Steps, a classic Alan Ayckbourn farce about love and freedom, on June 8 at Park Square Theatre. Starring Stacia Rice, Steve Hendrickson, Steve Lewis, and John Elsen, with direction by the great David Mann, it stands to be a night of zingers very well delivered.

Also opening on June 8, Aftermath at Bedlam Theatre features some of our best physical actors, including Sara Richardson (frequently of Jeune Lune) and Jon Ferguson (best known for directing the Fringe hit Please Don’t Blow Up Mr. Boban).

And opening at the Weisman on June 9, SAD: Illuminating a Northern View of Darkness, features nine local artists exploring how our northerly surroundings affect and define us. Doesn’t seem like nearly the right of year for this, given the fact that I can’t think of a better place to be this time of year, but whatever, if you need a counterweight to the 80-degree weekend, this is the place–a preview party is June 8 (and about a third of the cost of the Walker’s After Hours preview party for the Picasso exhibit next Friday).

Next week: Remembrances of After Hours past…and a new gallery that aims to show art where the most artists live (hello, South Minneapolis!).

Photo from the “SAD” exhibit: Mudman, Hidden Beach, 2004, by Katherine Turczan