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February 25, 2013

Alums Faye Price and Noel Raymond honored as MPR's ART HEROES

U of M Theatre alums Faye Price and Noel Raymond, are honored as "Art Heroes" and are featured on Minnesota Public Radio news for their spirited leadership and clear artistic vision of Pillsbury House and Theatre, located on Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis.

As co-artistic directors, Price and Raymond face many challenges reports MPR. "It's in a neighborhood which has sometimes had a reputation for crime as much as creativity. It's a professional theater company in a community center that suffers from the low expectations assigned to a 'community theater.' And its budget took a beating in the recession."

Price ruminated on all three issues recently as actors ran through their lines on Pillsbury's stage for a remount of the play, Buzzer. It's a provocative piece that's typical Pillsbury fare, highlighting issues of race, class and friction related to urban gentrification. The play got rave reviews last year, and it's now remounted at the Guthrie Theater, and co-artistic director Price sees challenge ahead.

"I can't begin to tell you how many people think that, because we're in a neighborhood center, because we're in this neighborhood in particular, that if you come to see a play here your expectations shouldn't be very high," she said. "That's what people expect, and we always change their minds."

Read more of Marianne Comb's news feature on Art Heroes Faye Price and Noel Raymond.

February 22, 2013

Dance Prof Rachmi Diyah Larasati authors "The Dance That Makes You Vanish"

Theatre Arts & Dance professor, Rachmi Diyah Larasati has written Dance That Makes You Vanish: Cultural Reconstruction in Post -Genocide Indonesia. Published by the University of Minnesota Press in March, the new work explores the transformation of dance form in the highly charged political repression in her native homeland during the 1960s.

Indonesian court dance, a purportedly pure and untouched tradition, is famed throughout the world for its sublime calm and stillness. Yet this unyieldingly peaceful surface conceals a time of political repression and mass killing. Between 1965 and 1966, some one million Indonesians--including a large percentage of the country's musicians, artists, and dancers--were killed, arrested, or disappeared as Suharto established a virtual dictatorship that ruled for the next thirty years.

In The Dance That Makes You Vanish, an examination of the relationship between female dancers and the Indonesian state since 1965, Rachmi Diyah Larasati elucidates the Suharto regime's dual-edged strategy: persecuting and killing performers perceived as communist or left leaning while simultaneously producing and deploying "replicas"--new bodies trained to standardize and unify the "unruly" movements and voices of those vanished--as idealized representatives of Indonesia's cultural elegance and composure in bowing to autocratic rule. Analyzing this history, Larasati shows how the Suharto regime's obsessive attempts to control and harness Indonesian dance for its own political ends have functioned as both smoke screen and smoke signal, inadvertently drawing attention to the site of state violence and criminality by constantly pointing out the "perfection" of the mask that covers it.

Reflecting on her own experiences as an Indonesian national troupe dancer from a family of persecuted female dancers and activists, Larasati brings to life a powerful, multifaceted investigation of the pervasive use of culture as a vehicle for state repression and the global mass-marketing of national identity.

Rachmi Diyah Larasati is assistant professor of cultural theory, critical studies, and dance history in the department of Theatre Arts & Dance at the University of Minnesota. She also holds an affiliate graduate faculty position there in the Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies and is a former guest faculty at the Brown University Critical Global Humanities Research Institute.

Get the Book!

February 4, 2013

Sweet Revenge! to thrill Minnesota Centennial Showboat summer audiences, opening June 13, 2013

St. Paul, Minn. - The University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Centennial Showboat announced today plans to present SWEET REVENGE!, an action-packed tale of high adventure, June 13- August 24 to be performed aboard the famous boat that last summer drew nearly 11,000 visitors to Harriet Island, downtown St. Paul.

In SWEET REVENGE! (or No Mother to Guide Her) by Lillian Mortimer, Ralph, the repentant criminal steals the heart of a farmer's daughter only to have con man Livingstone claim her for his own. Split second escapes and skin-of-the-teeth rescues abound as criminals seasoned on the wicked streets of New York City prey on a community of country folks. Caught in a desperate web of deceit, secret lovers must battle to overcome powerful forces to escape. PETER MOORE and VERN SUTTON, the dynamic duo of that scored Showboat hits The Vampire! and The Demon Barber of Fleet Street join forces once again for this one-of-a-kind evening of family entertainment juxtaposing this classic American melodrama with song and dance routines.

When asked what can audiences expect in SWEET REVENGE!, director Moore quipped, "Crooked cops, a down-on-his-luck good guy, a big-city con artist, a killer and his side kick, a heroine caught in his evil clutches, plus a nasty whiskey-swilling granny... and oh, did I mention a raging storm complete with tornado that strikes on stage? What more could you expect from a night at the theater? And where else but on the Showboat can you cheer on the hero and hiss the bad guy?" Reviewing a recent revival of this 1905 melodrama, the New York Times commented, "If this brave tale of death, seduction, deceit, betrayal, and poetic justice cannot make you happy, you are in grave peril."

The Showboat also prides itself as home to olios, vintage musical interludes featuring song and dance. Spiced with fun gimmicks, colorful costumes and surprises, these tuneful crowd- pleasers are straight from the golden days of vaudeville. The Minnesota Opera veteran, maestro Vern Sutton returns to "direct with a sharp eye these musical vignettes...some poignant, some naughty" (St. Paul Pioneer Press) underscoring the evening's fun.

Docked on the banks of the mighty Mississippi at Harriet Island in beautiful downtown St. Paul, the Showboat offers welcoming public spaces, bars and a beautiful upper deck lounge with spectacular views of the city's skyline. Visitors stroll along embankments with wide green lawns shaded by towering cottonwoods as they step aboard. The Centennial Showboat - a floating palace with a fully air-conditioned 200 seat theater is styled after a vaudeville house, complete with painted scenery, footlights and nineteenth-century stage magic.

Owned by the University of Minnesota since 1958, the Minnesota Centennial Showboat proudly presents SWEET REVENGE for this 55th summer of fun and laughter. Visitors last year found "a perfect summer evening" for a first date or family outing. Tour groups, reunions, employee gatherings enjoy special rates. Unsolicited comments by one audience member sum up the response of many. "A talented cast of singers and actors kept me laughing and entertained the whole night...I'm going again and taking others with me." Convenient FREE parking for cars and busses is available. Arrive by bike on the Lilydale Trail or by boat and dock for FREE on the island. The University of Minnesota Centennial Showboat is completely accessible.

SWEET REVENGE! performs 2:30 pm matinees every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday: and evenings at 8:00pm Tuesday through Saturdays June 13- August 24, 2013. Thursday nights feature post-show Talk/Backs, informal Q & A sessions with cast members. Ask about Family Fun Special rates for Friday nights and Saturday matinees. Discounts for students with valid ID, seniors 62+ and groups rates for 15 or more are available. Reserve tickets ($23-$25) by calling 651.227.1100 or by visiting www.showboat.umn.edu. for more information.

What: SWEET REVENGE! with Musical Olios aboard Minnesota Centennial Showboat
When: June 13- August 24, 2013
Where: downtown St. Paul, Minnesota Harriet Island, docked on the mighty Mississippi
Tickets: $23.00-$25.00 showboat.umn.edu or call direct 651-227-1100; ask about
rates for students, seniors, groups 15+ and Family Fun specials.