Paddling Theater

If you love theater and canoeing, later this month you will have a chance to experience them together like you may never have before. Take part in a one-of-a-kind theater performance on the Minnesota River as part of the Minnesota River History Weekend and Minnesota State Water Trails 50th Anniversary celebrations, on Saturday, May 18, 2013. Actors from the Upper Minnesota River Valley area and PlaceBase Productions will perform an original Paddling Theater Production of With the Future on the Line. That’s right…paddling.

From their canoes on the Minnesota River, the audience will engage with stories, songs, and characters from local river lore as scenes are presented both as live theater and live-action radio drama on the river’s banks. The audience will be able to take part in a literal interactive journey as they paddle into the past and view the stories from the Minnesota River Valley come to life. Along the way, paddlers will meet with a host of explorers, scientists, river reprobates, and prairie politicians as they learn about the ecology and stories of the river between Granite Falls and the Upper Sioux Agency State Park.

Through reenactments and radio drama, the play tells the story of a summer day when three river cities were in the running for the county seat in 1873; a group of citizens from Granite Falls traveled down the river to Yellow Medicine City to secretly remove county documents from the courthouse. It is based on historical records and interviews with local residents, historians, and naturalists, and it is written by Ashley Hanson and Andrew Gaylord of PlaceBase Productions, a company that creates performances that explore history through interaction with the landscape and its stories. Their first performance in Granite Falls, Granite Falls: A Meandering River Walk, took place during the 2012 Art Meander.

Granite Falls – A Meandering River Walk
from Anne Queenan on Vimeo.

The general public may take part in the theatrical voyage by signing up for a spot on a guided 10-person voyageur canoe provided by Wilderness Inquiry, or by bringing your own canoe or kayak. Those who do bring their own canoe or kayak will have the option of paddling rapids that haven’t been seen in 107 years, and are encouraged to register online.

The Paddling Theater Production is the result of a partnership with Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) and the Department of Natural Resources as part of a larger weekend festival, Minnesota River History Weekend and Minnesota State Water Trails 50th Anniversary. The full event runs May 17-19, and includes a weekend full of music, food, historic exhibits, and even a film festival.

Paddling Theater Project
With the Future on the Line: Paddling Theater from Granite Falls to Yellow Medicine City

May 18, 2013
Starting Location: K.K. Berge Building (807 Prentice Street, Granite Falls)
Starting Time: Event Welcome 10 a.m.; Final scene at Memorial Park, Granite Falls at 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $10 for a spot on Wilderness Inquiry Voyageur Canoes in advance and $15 on-site.
Ages: ALL ages and abilities welcome to participate; Shuttle service provided.