Art Hounds: Burnt Part Boys, Harmony in Red, and Ultimate Master of Words

Jayson Speters plays older brother, Jake, who tries to stop his brother from going to the Burnt Part, in The Burnt Part Boys at Renegade Theater in Duluth, Minn. (Photo credit: Andy Miller)

Rebecca Katz HarwoodRebecca Katz Harwood, who teaches theater and dance at the University of Minnesota Duluth and is a dancer and choreographer, recommends The Burnt Part Boys:

The Renegade Theater Company in Duluth is producing the regional premiere of The Burnt Part Boys, a new musical with book by Mariana Elder, music by Chris Miller, and lyrics by Nathan Tysen.

The show is set in 1962, in the mining country of West Virginia.  A mine collapse ten years ago has left its mark on the family members left behind.  Now the mining company wants to re-open the mine that still holds the bodies of the men who were killed, which spurs several of the town’s young people to make the journey to the mine, now basically a shrine known as The Burnt Part.  Learning more about their stories, their relationships to each other, and to the fathers they lost too soon, make up the substance of the plot.

The score is an appealing mix of bluegrass and pop-inflected contemporary musical theater, and while there are some dramaturgical conveniences, the story is affecting.  The great strengths and joys of this production are the performances by the talented young cast and the smart, sensitive direction by Peter Froehlingsdorf, ably supported by all the members of the creative team (I’m sorry I can’t list all their names here) and the live band seated on one side of the stage.

Froehlingsdorf makes the most of the Renegade’s tiny space, staging the action to keep one scene flowing into the next while solidly grounding us in the different locations along the journey.  And the cast is strong vocally across the board and beautifully committed to their individual roles and to each other as an ensemble.

The show continues August 15-17 and 22-24.  All shows at 8 p.m.

Courtney AlgeoPaper Darts co-founder Courtney Algeo will be at the Loft tonight:

With the declining rate of cable subscribers and the rising rate of pacifists, one thought has been starting to nag at the back of my mind—where are people getting their reality show competition kicks? Perhaps nowhere — now that’s a terrifying thought. To the rescue comes The Loft Literary Center’s Second Annual Ultimate Master of Words competition, which pits real-world local celebrities against one another in a lexical duel to the death (of pride and creative prowess).

This year’s competition features such nimble-of-wit contenders as Lisa Brimmer, Rob Callahan, Jacquie Fuller, Ed Bok Lee, Katie Sisneros, Faith Sullivan, Chaun Webster, and Anna Weggel, who will be judged by the likes of Dessa, Brian Malloy, and reigning word master Emily Weiss. Stephanie Curtis (of MPR News) will provide emcee commentary in her radio voice.

What’s so spectacular about this on-stage test of language and wit — which asks contestants to, at the drop of a hat, fabricate definitions to lengthy, obscure words for the twisted enjoyment of others — is that it forces competitors to be at their very best by utilizing both their creative and logical sides. Plus, this sort of event supports the blistering hot writing community that the Twin Cities is lucky enough to have.

This year’s event is already sold out, but now you know to keep an eye out for next year’s annual smack down. Glue yourself to a seat, otherwise you might just get blown away.

Susan WoehrleStoryteller and writer Susan Woehrle has been following the work of Paige Dansiger for years:

Since Paige Dansinger started working to curate exhibits with a focus on Jewish artists, she has been an important part of the Twin Cities art world.

Her latest project, Harmony in Red, is inspired by the Matisse work of the same name, also known as Reclining Odalisque. The exhibit features a series of self-portraits in oil applied with her hands, as well as a series of digital works using an iPad program that uses a finger’s touch to create bright lines of color, similarly process oriented.

The app was originally developed by Dansinger as a museum engagement tool. From the video below it looks like a really fun way to create art and the video playback of the process is fascinating to watch.

There will also be ceramic pieces from her series of plates. The exhibit will be at the Soo Local, an off-shoot of Soo Visual Arts Center (SooVAC) a non-profit gallery in South Minneapolis that shows work by under-represented artists.

The gallery is located on 3506 Nicollet Ave and the exhibit starts tomorrow, Friday, August 16. The opening night party is from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and the show runs through September 15. There will be a live demo of Draw Art on Tuesday, August 27 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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