Taking flight

The theater company Live Action Set opens “The Sparrow” at The Southern on Friday.

Danylo Loutchko

For sailors, the sparrow used to be a bittersweet sign: It meant that land was near but also that their adventure was about to come to an end.
 
 
Live Action Set’s devised show, “The Sparrow,” explores endings and beginnings through stories, sometimes true and personal, performed by the actors. The show opens at the Southern Theater on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
 
 
“[The piece] is about going from a place of imprisonment to freedom,” said Noah Bremer, co-director of “The Sparrow” and artistic director of Live Action Set. “This idea that a sparrow is a little bird that can be free and go anywhere it wants and that we as individuals sometimes don’t have that freedom.”
 
 
The show is not a play in the traditional sense of the word, so there’s no single narrative to follow all the way through. Rather, it’s a disjointed exploration through vignettes on the idea of liberation through honesty. 
 
 
“I think the common thread is really about seeking personal freedom and personal transformation and being the best human being you can be,” Bremer said.
 
 
The performers spend the show building a relationship with the audience by telling stories or “simple truths.” 
 
 
“It’s about honesty,” Bremer said. “So one of them might just tell you what they had for breakfast, but it’s the idea of freedom through honesty and freedom through being genuine.” 
 
 
The large, 24-member cast consists of a mix of dancers and actors. They work with spoken text, expressive physical gestures and dance. 
 
 
The piece is entirely devised, meaning the performers worked collaboratively to build the content of the show from the ground up. 
 
 
Being the director of a devised piece like this is a challenge. Since the stories are so personal, the director’s job is not to impose an artistic vision on the performers but rather to tease out their personal expressions. 
 
 
“Everybody has a different learning process. I need to adjust how I’m giving direction and prompts. Actors, dancers, everybody needs something a little different,” Bremer said. “Often times, it’s helpful for people to know the kernel of what I’m going for, and they can be active participants in helping that come to fruition.”
 
 
The process of getting a prompt or idea from the director means that improvisation and spontaneous discovery were a large part of rehearsals.
 
 
That idea of being in the moment comes out in the show, especially in a section where the performers ask the audience questions that the performers respond to in character. 
 
 
Those improv-based scenes also speak to another one of the piece’s goals, which is to create a deep relationship between audience and performer. 
 
 
“We want to incorporate the audience as a character and have them feel like they are a part of it,” Bremer said. “We’re trying to communicate with people on a deep level through honesty and on a very human level. That is something really exciting — to be provoking conversation and feelings in our audience.”
 
 
“The Sparrow,” presented by Live Action Set
 
Where The Southern Theater, 1420 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis
When various times, FridayMay 20
Cost $24 general, $18 students, free for ARTshare membres, Tuesday is pay-what-you-can