Weekend Picks: A Concert for Peace; Black and Funny Improv Festival; ‘Fables, Tales and Morals… Oh My!’

21 March 2024

From the art of grief to the art of theater improv, there’s lots going on as usual around the Twin Cities this week. Rapper/Shakespearean performer Devon Glover, aka The Sonnet Man, joins Out on a Limb Dance Theater Company for their performance, and the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus send up queer British artists and more at Tedd Mann Concert Hall. 

Also this week, take in one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s lesser known works— new and improved by Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company at the Howard Conn Fine Arts Center at Plymouth Congregational Church, where you’ll also find an exhibition of rug works based on Elizabeth Catlett prints. Meanwhile, at MacPhail, a new app for music creation stars in a “A Concert for Peace.” 

Candida Gonzalez: Blood Memory

Twin Cities artist Candida Gonzales shares a love letter to Puerto Rico, its diaspora, and the artist’s ancestors in a new exhibition opening at Public Functionary this week. The exhibition, “Blood Memory,” is made up of 5 different installations that use collage, photography, found objects and sounds. Some of the works are participatory, like one that invites visitors to listen to audio and video components through headphones, or another piece, “En Duelo,” that acts as a community grief altar where visitors can place a picture or memory of a loved one. Other installations explore food and ways we invoke memories to honor and be in relationship with those who have passed. 

You’ll be able to interact with these works at the opening reception Friday, March 22 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Public Functionary’s space in the Northrop King building. The exhibition is on view through April 13. More information here

“Fables, Tales and Morals… Oh My!” cast members, from left: Michele Heggerston, Allie Myrvold, Devon Glover, a.k.a. The Sonnet Man, Lindsay King and Karissa Gibson. Credit: Supplied

Out on a Limb: Fables, Tales and Morals… Oh My

Normally, Brooklyn-based Devon Glover, known as “The Sonnet Man,” tours across the country bringing his Hip-Hop infused Shakespeare performance and workshops to theaters and schools. This week, he teams up with Out on a Limb Dance Theater Company for its production of “Fables, Tales and Morals… Oh My!” at The O’Shaughnessy. Glover narrates the production in rapped couplets as a story unfolds that weaves together classic fairy tales like The Three Little Pigs, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. 

Friday, March 22 at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 23 at 2 p.m. at the O’Shaughnessy. ($34-37). More information here

“I have studied with increasing numbers” hooked by Dorye Jackson, from Elizabeth Catlett Credit: MinnPost photo by Sheila Regan

Utopia, Limited and Lift Every Voice 

You just have one last weekend to catch Gilbert and Sullivan Very Light Opera Company’s production of “Utopia, Limited or The Flowers of Progress,” a lesser known work by the famous 19th century British duo— composer Arthur Sullivan and librettist W. S. Gilbert. The company over the years has made significant edits to the work, cutting scenes and characters, etc. Most recently, they’ve also addressed problematic stereotypes in the original operetta. 

In the new version, the country of Utopia is an island inhabited by descendants of English migrants. For years the society has operated blissfully free of British problems, until two things happen. One is that two villains attempt to exploit Utopia’s government for their own gain. Then, the princess returns from her studies in England, ready to bring knowledge from that country for Utopia’s good. What follows is a biting satire of Great Britain’s politics and policies via the signature silliness that accompanies Gilbert & Sullivan productions. I had a lot of fun watching the show last weekend, and found the singing to be quite impressive. 

If you go, be sure to check out a series of artworks in the Conn Gallery, just outside the Theater. It’s an exhibition called “Lift Every Voice,” honoring African American sculptor and graphic artist Elizabeth Catlett. 15 of Catlett’s block prints from her “The Black Woman” series serve as inspiration for rugs hooked by American and Canadian women who met on Zoom during 2021 and 2022 to chose their prints, discuss the artist, and reflect on Catlett’s legacy. 

“Utopia, Limited” runs Friday, March 22, Saturday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 24 at 2 p.m.). More information here

Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus 

Speaking of Gilbert & Sullivan, the Victorian duo’s music is among the offerings in an upcoming British-themed Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus concert. They’ll also prominently feature queer British artists like Elton John and Sam Smith, as well as Queen, whose lead singer Freddie Mercury is another LGBTQ legend. They’ll also sing music by Dusty Springfield, Emeli Sandé, David Bowie, Adele, and Culture Club. 

Friday, March 22 and Saturday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m. at Ted Mann Concert Hall ($20-$45). More information here

A Concert for Peace 

A new music-composing app called Ekwe, created by a professor at MacPhail Center for Music, gets the spotlight in a concert this week. Michael Cain, a Grammy-nominated jazz pianist who directs the electronic music and recording arts program at MacPhail, has created an app that’s both a composition and a learning tool, providing access to the sounds of instruments from around the world, complete with images and contextual information. 

Ekwe is teaming up with MacPhail for “Concert for Peace” this week, where the audience will see the app in action as performed by Aaina Padiath, the first recipient of the Ekwe & Maia Dave Scholarship. Padiath will perform live via a stream from India showcasing the app’s functionality. The concert also features new compositions by  Michael Cain and Barbara Cohen, and a performance by Ekwe visiting artist Yousif Sheronick highlighting the sound of the frame drum. JD Steele joins the performance providing vocals, Zacc Harris and David Feily will play guitar, Rimshots!/Paul Babcock will be on marimba/percussion, Abinnet Berhanu on drums, and  Joe Strachan will play keyboards. 

Saturday, March 23 at 7 p.m. at MacPhail (free). More information here

Black and Funny Improv Festival co-directors John Gebretatose and Jada Pulley. Credit: Supplied

The Black and Funny Improv Festival 

The Twin Cities’ own Blackout Improv are joined by improv groups from Vancouver, Dallas, Chicago, New York, Baltimore and Ontario as part of a four-day festival at Huge Improv Theater. Centering Black voices throughout, the shows are open to all, and besides improvisation performances, you’ll also find panel discussions, workshops, improv jams and more. The festival’s co-director, Jada Pulley, happens to also be MinnPost’s operations manager.

Thursday, March 21 through Sunday, March 22 (Ultra Pass $150, individual tickets to shows $20.) More information here

Sheila Regan

Sheila Regan is a Twin Cities-based arts journalist. She writes MinnPost’s twice-weekly Artscape column. She can be reached at [email protected].

The post Weekend Picks: A Concert for Peace; Black and Funny Improv Festival; ‘Fables, Tales and Morals… Oh My!’ appeared first on MinnPost.

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