Playwright Alan Berks is King of St. Paul

Gabriel Murphy, Adam Whisner, Kiara Jackson, and Paul La Nave (seated) in Alan Berks’ adaptation of Six Characters in Search of an Author. Photo by Aaron Fenster.

It’s tough out there for a playwright to get produced. Considering this, Minneapolis’ Alan Berks is experiencing the theatrical equivalent of a lightning strike—two of his plays are running at the same time in separate theaters in St. Paul, and they couldn’t be more different.

The first is Six Characters in Search of an Author, an adaptation of Luigi Pirandello’s 1921 work in which fictional characters come to life; Berks adapts it for the digital age set in a TV show called The Maze. “The show is for anyone who has ever watched reality television,” Berks says, “and wondered, WTF does that say about our culture?

Complicated Fun is less conceptual, more rock’n’roll. Set in the 1980s Twin Cities music scene, it features live music with tunes by the likes of Hüsker Dü and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis.

“I was 12 years old in 1984 when I snuck into Purple Rain. A few months later, someone handed me the Replacements’ Let It Be after gym class,” Berks says. “I think my entire life has been guided by those two aesthetics—imagine my surprise and delight when I learned that they both came from Minnesota.”

Berks, a transplant to the state, takes his good fortune with appropriately northern stoicism. “It’s a pretty lucky—and slightly embarrassing—coincidence of timing,” he says. “I hope I’m able to enjoy it, because I don’t expect it will happen again—but isn’t that so Minnesotan of me to say?

Complicated Fun
History Theatre
April 30-May 29

Six Characters in Search of an Author
Park Square Theatre
April 19-May 8