Kyle Loven brings “Moon Show 143” to Dowling Studio

Seattle-based theatermaker Kyle Loven examines how Earth’s natural satellite connects us all in “Moon Show 143.”

by Joe Kellen

Kyle Loven wasn’t particularly interested in the moon until he visited Taipei, Taiwan a few years ago.

The Seattle-based theater artist was there to perform and wandered the city during his downtime. The idea for his upcoming piece at the Guthrie, “Moon Show 143,” came while he was on a walk with a local friend.

They were walking down a main street when Loven pointed at something that caught his eye. Realizing that pointing was rude, Loven apologized. His friend accepted it and mentioned something his parents used to tell him.

“He said, ‘When we were little, we were told not to point at the moon or the moon would cut our ears off,’” Loven said.

The story triggered a fascination with what the moon means to different cultures.

“I was struck by the idea of this singular thing that everyone shares. No matter where you are, you can look up at the sky and see the moon,” he said.

Loven did research on the moon in other cultures, discovering similarities in different mythology. He found that in both Chinese and Jewish folk tales, there were stories about characters attempting to capture the moon.

The stories featured foolish protagonists who saw the moon’s reflection in water and believed they could keep it as their own if they trapped it.

“It connects us all in some way even if we have nothing else in common,” Loven said.

Looking for a collaborator when he returned to Washington, Loven hooked up with director Nick Hubbard. They created a 20-minute performance, “When You Point At The Moon,” that appeared in Seattle’s 2011 Northwest New Works Festival.

Loven played a number of characters to present what would happen if the moon could take a slice out of you.

The piece paired a dark sense of humor with puppetry and physical theater. After a successful run, Loven and Hubbard wanted to expand their work to contain more stories.

Two years later, “Moon Show 143” is about to open in the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio. Its artistic scale has grown significantly, according to Hubbard.

“Lighting will be a huge element of the show,” he said. “We’re working in the frame of a rock concert.”

Hubbard said they will illuminate the entire room, include vast ranges of color and emulate outer space.

“It’s going to incorporate music, puppetry, live performance and all these things will come together to serve a larger story: the creation of a new myth,” Hubbard said.

Loven and Hubbard were hesitant to give much of the plot away, but it’s clear the material grabs Loven in a way he didn’t anticipate.

“I look at the moon differently now, I guess. I say hi to it every night when I’m walking down the street or looking out of my apartment window or something,” Loven said. “It makes my brain explode in a beautiful way.”


What: “Moon Show 143”

When: âÄã7:30, Sept. 14, 17 and 18; 7 p.m., Sept. 15

Where: Guthrie Theater, 818 South 2nd Street, Minneapolis

Cost: $25-30