The Interact Center Combines Art and Inclusion

photo by carley matsumoto, decorated by interact center artists

Interact Center for the Visual and Performing Arts describes its philosophy as “radical inclusion,” and with the viewing of several Interact performances under my belt, I would be hard-pressed to come up with a better description. Recently relocated from its former North Loop headquarters to new digs across the river in St. Paul’s Midway, the group’s mission remains the same: sustaining a high-level visual art and theater studio, workshop, and performance space for disabled artists.

Interact shows usually are based on a loose narrative strung together with musical numbers, and while there are inevitably ragged moments, the overall effect—a profound one—is frequently the realization that disability is a fluid and elastic concept, and that the continuum between those tagged with the term and those who aren’t can actually be inhabited with a sense of playfulness and joy.

Watching a couple of young adults with Down Syndrome execute an absolutely hilarious original song about how cute, cuddly, and lovable people with Down Syndrome tend to be—part of a show a few years ago—tends to have a mind-expanding effect. And the laugh that tune elicited was truly a soul-brightener.

The first show in Interact’s new space, Plotholes, is a new play that draws on fantasy and fairy tales, gods and villains, imps and drag queens in an extended riff on the archetype of the fool. With a cast of more than 40, and direction and music by leading lights of the local theater scene, it seems that the company is inaugurating its next phase with no shortage of ambition—with a grounding in the oddly, almost uncanny mythic territory where its best work has emerged before.

Plotholes: A Fool’s Foibles
Interaction Center for the Visual and Performing Arts
Through May 16

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Quinton Skinner is a writer and editor based in the Twin Cities. A former senior editor of Minnesota Monthly, he held the same post at Twin Cities METRO and 
has written for major national and local publications. He is the co-founder of Logosphere Storysmiths and author of several novels, including his latest, Odd One Out.