From the Fringe to the Guthrie: four companies are “Singled Out”


Actress Heather Stone channels June Cleaver’s repressed psyche in “June of Arc”

Photo by Richard Fleischman

Starting Thursday, the Guthrie Theater is holding its own “mini-fringe.” Associate Director of Studio Programming Benjamin McGovern curated “Singled Out: A Festival Of Emerging Artists,” drawing primarily from work he’s seen at the Minnesota Fringe Festival. McGovern says he’s a big believer that one of the great strengths of the Twin Cities theater scene is its rich “ecosystem” – there are companies big and small, old and young. And that ecosystem, he says, is constantly evolving.

My feeling is that at the Guthrie we really benefit from that whole scene. In the past it’s been hard to engage with those companies because we had the one albatross of a mainstage, but now we’ve got lots more opportunities with the Dowling studio in addition to our two main stages.

McGovern says the festival serves multiple purposes. First off he wants to present a sampling of what’s “bubbling up” in the local theater scene to Guthrie audiences. McGovern says many Guthrie season ticket holders might not be willing to take a risk on checking out a new play in a new location, but would be more than willing to spend the evening seeing new work in the comfortable and familiar environment of the Guthrie. If they like what they see, they might be willing to venture out to different venues to see a company in the future.


Four Humors Theater presents “Mortem Capiendum” as part of “Singled Out”

Secondly, McGovern says he’s interested in providing young companies a platform.

What happens with these companies is they come up with a really good piece, but they don’t have a space to call their own, or a marketing department… so the show disappears, and I feel that that’s a shame.

McGovern points to “June of Arc” a show that left him speechless, and wanting to see more.

I don’t know where it came from – I just know that I had a pretty extraordinary experience seeing it, in particular Heather Stone’s manifestation of June Cleaver’s repressed psyche in this almost trance-like monologue – that experience was unusual enough to make me want to see it again.


The New Theatre Group presents “American Sexy,” a candid look at sexual politics by local playwright Trista Baldwin

Photo by Richard Fleischman

With “Singled Out,” McGovern says relatively young companies get the opportunity to work with a more seasoned, professional staff, which has the potential to enhance and enrich their future projects.

So why is it that the Guthrie, a theater who’s mission is to present the classics to a regional audience, is presenting a festival dedicated to emerging artists? McGovern says it’s about context.

“I think of it as developing new vocabularies that ultimately help us re-envision how we look at the classics. It’s a different side of the conversation. Ultimately I think it enhances and enriches our work here at the Guthrie. It’s always invigorating to get new perspectives,” says McGovern.

“Singled Out” runs January 14 – 24 in the Guthrie Theater’s Dowling Studio; Ben Mcgovern says he hopes to make this an annual festival.