Downtown Art

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March 22, 2004 // UPDATED 10:19 am - April 25, 2007
By: Anna Pratt
Anna Pratt

'A Man of No Importance'

I had a Metro Transit bus driver once who'd turned his bus into a mobile theater. "This is my bus," he used to say, with comic entitlement, well sown with self-awareness. He greeted everyone who joined his audience with a hearty bellow. He sometimes struck conversations with the entire busload at once. Often, he had the crowd aching with laughter. He didn't let the start-stop motion of the big vehicle; the occasionally rowdy passenger/patron or the shot of frigid winter air cramp his driving style.

In "A Man of No Importance" we find another distinguished bus driver, Alfie Byrne, who takes passengers to and fro in 1960s Dublin. The enthusiastic Oscar Wilde fan is a "pious artist" -- literally.

This poetry-dribbling bus driver has ambitions for Wilde's play, "Salome." He wants to produce it in his church's basement. And when the unbending church protests the drama, a sincere Alfie defends his production, confronts his sexuality and makes an important statement for "A Man of No Importance."

Thursday-Sunday thru April 18; Thursday-Friday, 8 p.m. and Sunday, 2 p.m., (plus Monday, April 5, 7:30 p.m.) Loring Playhouse, 1633 Hennepin Ave. S. $18-$25. 343-3390.

'As Bees in Honey Drown'

I've been privy to the script of "As Bees in Honey Drown" a few times; it's my roommate Christopher's favorite play. He's used the show repeatedly for his man semiprofessional theater projects (he's a theater buff who also does design work at local venues), and I've reluctantly filled in when he's missing someone for a script reading.

Christopher happened to record a rehearsal of one particular scene that captured not only my poor acting skills but also my role's limited vocabulary. My only line for pages was various iterations of the word "fuck."

Now, I have a swearing problem: I can't swear in public. This is a terrible thing, not to be able to swear. I just sound funny. I'm so bad at it, in fact, that I'm a smashing success at parties (at least, on-screen), when my roommate pushes "play" on the video . . . over and over.

This is probably how character Evan Wyler felt by the end of "As Bees Drown in Honey." The up-and-coming writer falls in love with an alluring record/movie producer, and she drops him as carelessly as she picked him up.

Glam girl Alexa Vere de Vere is a beautiful con woman whose startling good looks and big city charms seduce even Wyler -- who's gay -- when she asks him to write a screenplay about her dangerous lifestyle. High on the success of his first novel, Wyler is a vulnerable subject for Alexa's disarming abuse. And after he and Ms. Vere de Vere go shopping together for fame, wealth and celebrity, Wyler learns that he was looking for love in all the wrong places.

Friday-Sunday, March 26-April 18; Friday-Saturday, 8 p.m. and Sunday, 2 and 7 p.m. Theatre in the Round, 245 Cedar Ave. $20. 333-3010.

Call for Fringe volunteers

Writers, photographers and data miners, the Fringe Festival (an annual theater extravaganza that will feature over 160 shows at 20 metro venues this summer) needs volunteer contributors for the Fringe Web site. Last year's site logged over 3.3 million hits, making this is a real opportunity to build your personal portfolio, not to mention to experience the festival with a zoom lens.

Photographers are needed to: click digital Festival photos for rotating slideshows online, including casual snaps of long lines, lobbies and behind-the-scenes work; compose photo essays and montages that summarize rehearsals, workshops, fund-raisers and other showcases; and/or take photos of performers and audience members for the "E-Newsletter."

Energetic bloggers are needed to write a frenzy of diaries, reviews and opinions. Data miners are wanted to cull through audience reviews and local press reviews and maintain Fringe site links.

You'll receive full credit for your work, free Fringe tickets and an invitation to the post-Fringe volunteer party. Visit www.fringefestival.org for more information and an application.

Anna Pratt can be reached at annapratt@artlover.com.