Get a jump-start on summer art

From May to August, video games shouldn’t have to exist at all.

Adri Mehra

Summer in Minneapolis is a divinely wrought thing. Not only do the skies finally open for torrents of rain – I mean, sun – but the already well-stocked performing arts schedule across the city gets to add a new venue:

Outside.

Yes, even the Guthrie Theater and First Avenue have a hard time competing with fresh-cut grass and scuzzy beaches.

The deal is, actors and dancers and musicians want to get outdoors as much as any of the rest of you when it’s frickin’ nice out.

So, whenever possible, they abandon their stuffy, poorly cooled rehearsal and performance spaces and set up shop alfresco, in greener pastures.

The following is a shortlist of well-loved outdoor shenanigans that return year after year:

Renaissance Festival. This isn’t until Aug. 13, but it’s surely the finest example of popular outdoor theater in the region.

The Festival re-creates an amusing 16th century village from the Western European Renaissance era, when there was still a king and his court, and the arts flourished under wealthy patronage.

Besides the 12 stages of entertainment – from jousting knights to the infamous Puke and Snot comedy team – there are hundreds of wonderful little craft shops and places to chow.

Get thee to a nunnery, indeed!

Taste of Minnesota. If you’re in town for the Fourth of July weekend, be sure to scope out the free music lineup at Taste of Minnesota. So far only Alice Cooper has been confirmed for the KQRS national main stage (for the festival’s first day, June 30), but there is no doubt the rest of the five days will avail some embarrassed-to-admit-it washups you won’t be able to resist.

Some memorable nostalgia acts from recent years include Ringo Starr, The Temptations (should be singular – only one original guy remains), and America/Kansas/REO Speedwagon.

I think that last band was Dr. Frankenstein’s attempt at an “über has-been,” constructed of the lesser parts of several impotent rock dinosaurs from some the lamer pop-music stretches of the 1970s. Oh yeah, there’s tons of quality greasy food as well, as well as some bitchin’ fireworks every night.

Loring Park movies and music series. Honestly, I can’t readily think of a better date night than a set from a French jazz combo followed by a flinty Godard flick – unfurled against the stunning foliage of Loring Park, across the street from the Walker Art Center. Just add a picnic blanket and a constellation guide, you romantic dork, you.

ArtCar parade. Sponsored by Intermedia Arts in Uptown, this always-packed event (usually on the third weekend in July) is one strange T-bird.

Starting at Lake Street and Grand Avenue and heading north on Lyndale Avenue to 28th Street, this funky procession of personality on wheels is as fascinating for the people-watching as it is for the actual motorcade.

Well, there you have it, comrades. The hors d’oeuvres version of the continental buffet that is summer entertainment in Minneapolis, if such a notion can be attained.

Of course, this is to say nothing of the Fringe Festival (the first two weeks of August), which happens to be the world’s second largest non-juried performing arts exhibition.

Put simply, that’s a whole lot of theater. And there’s plenty to go around, just like summer days and nights. Use or lose it, baby. I’ll see ya around.

Adri Mehra welcomes comments at [email protected]