Alt. Theater 101

Theater beyond The Guthrie: Where to start

by John Sand

The Minneapolis theater community is more than the Guthrie and traveling New York Broadway plays. The rich collection of local, turtle-necked dramaturgs is ripe for your enjoyment this spring, but where to start? Aside from the obvious powerhouses (The Guthrie , Pantages , Orpheum , etc), weâÄôve put together a list of more accessible, affordable Minneapolis theaters for student enjoyment. The Southern Theater 1420 Washington Ave. S. West BankâÄôs Southern Theater devotes its large arena stage to artistic synergy; often splicing together companies that seem dissimilar. The Southern is inhabited by an ever-revolving door of local and international dance companies, from the postmodern one-gay-man shows about penises imported from New York to TU Dance, a local modern dance company directed by University of Minnesota Dance Professor Toni Pierce-Sands. Bedlam Theatre 1501 6th St. S. This non-profit organizationâÄôs goal is to produce cutting-edge theater that borders on obtuse. The Bedlam produces eccentric twists on old classics and innovative concept theater. The BedlamâÄôs upcoming schedule features Idris Goodwin, a renowned slam poet, and âÄúrough metalâÄù Philadelphia band, Motorcycle Maus. Mixed Blood Theatre 1501 4th St. S. Based on MLKâÄôs âÄúDreamâÄù and founded in 1976, the Mixed Blood Theatre focuses on breaking down barriers to theatre, which is usually seen as a bourgeois pastime. The Theatre hosts performances in its historic fire station location as well as schools and juvenile detention centers. Not limiting itself to any specialty, Mixed Blood prides itself on a wide selection of short productions, from awe-inspiring musicals to dramatic black-box affairs. Zenon Dance 528 Hennepin Ave Zenon Dance is part modern dance school, part jazz dance company and part community outreach organization. Zenon has received nods from the New York Times and esteemed Dance Magazine for its work with underprivileged communities. The dance company has paired with a myriad of community centers and schools. One of their missions is to team up with public and private institutions to teach group communication skills and trust-building. Bryant Lake Bowl 810 W. Lake St. Bryant Lake BowlâÄôs strength lies in its accessibility and diversity. The quaint theater hosts everything from dramatic GLBT productions to stand-up comedy nights and improv workshops for children. The bowling alley/theater/bar hosts a weekly Monday date night. For $28, a couple can nab a bottle of house wine, two entrees and a round of bowling, the perfect date precursor to a night of local theatre. RedEye Collaboration 15 14th St. W. As the Red EyeâÄôs slogan proclaims, âÄúLifeâÄôs better with a little theater.âÄù This small crew set has devoted its 35 years to implementing small productions and fostering the avant-garde of the Minneapolis theater community. Next up at the Red Eye is the dark comedy âÄúMaria/Stuart,âÄù featuring deadly tongue-lashing and an apparently literal skeleton in the closet. Lab Theater 700 1st St. N. Opened as the GuthrieâÄôs experimental theater house in the North Loop, the Lab was the brainchild of the GuthrieâÄôs former artistic director, Garland Wright. The Lab just closed out its locally-casted production of âÄúRent.âÄù Up next at the experimental theater is âÄúOpen Eyes,âÄù a lineup of everything from a womenâÄôs dance septet to a solo toy pianist. Music Box Theatre 1407 Nicollet Ave. The historic Music Box Theatre was constructed in the 1920s as a silent theater and a vaudeville house. Since then, the Music Box has been out of business twice and hosted a Pentecostal church congregation. In 1997, the Theatre began running âÄúTriple Espresso,âÄù a three-man comedy act that used to travel the nation until they sank into middle-age. Along with that, the theater is still strong in its Christian roots, providing a home for âÄúSpirit Garage,âÄù a Lutheran parish. Minneapolis Theatre Garage 711 Franklin Ave. W. The Minneapolis Theatre Garage was born in the early âÄô80s from one theater fanâÄôs desire to house the plethora of indie production companies at low-cost. As the title suggests, the space is a giant garage which enables companies to switch from proscenium to thrust stages or theatre in the round with relative ease. Keep your Cadillac out of here; the space is frequented by several local not-for-profit theatre companies, vying to give budding actors a chance on the stage.