Downtown Art

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June 14, 2004 // UPDATED 1:54 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Anna Pratt
Anna Pratt

Girls vs. boys

Boys are better than girls! No, girls are better than boys! Gaydar Productions resurrects this immature but age-old dilemma as they pit the boys against the girls in two shows: the all-female "A . . . My Name is Alice" and the all-male "Bed, Boys and Beyond."

"A . . . My Name is Alice" is a feminist female musical review about the trials and errors of modern women's lives, i.e. the stuff women go through. Reversing the Shakespearean practice of transgender performances, where men depicted every role, women play every part in "A . . ."

"Alice" is an all-encompassing woman (er, women). She's a housewife, business executive, celebrity blues singer and psychiatrist, all wrapped into one -- but played by five different women: One Alice composes poetry about how men have done her wrong while a kindergarten teacher shames another Alice during parent-teacher conferences. A third Alice ridicules a macho construction worker (who is played by a woman, of course). One Alice releases sexual frustration through song for Alice-the-psychiatrist who insists the blues are no exchange for clinical communication.

Through all of Alice's ventures in Wonderland, portrayed in "Saturday Night Live"-esque snippets, numbers like "The Portrait," "Friends," "All-Girl Band," "Pay Them No Mind" and "Trash" reveal the production's lightheartedness.

Find Alices from Hey City Theater's (824 Hennepin Ave. S.) "Tony n' Tina's Wedding," like Greta Grosch, Amy James and Janet Paone, plus other local actresses Erica Kragness and Joanna Jahn.

Another blissful character from "Tony n' Tina's Wedding," Doug Anderson, stars in Gaydar Production's parallel play: "Bed, Boys and Beyond."

In this all-male show, Jay Baumgartner, Jacob Mahoney, Dana Munson and Tom Nechodomu exploit the baffling circumstances of the lives of five gay men who're looking for love. Songs like "Searchin' for a Euphemism," "Minneapolis Man," "Family Values," "The Seven-Week Itch" and "May I Take Your Hand" take liberal jabs at the Minneapolis gay scene.

"A . . ." runs Thursday-Saturday thru July 10, 7:30 p.m., "Bed . . ." runs Friday-Saturday thru July 31, 7:30 p.m., The Loring Playhouse, 1633 Hennepin Ave. S., $20. 604-4456.

'Requiem'

Historian and playwright Charles L. Mee believes staunchly in reincarnation, at least when it comes to art. He definitely isn't a hands-off-because-everything-you-touch-is-sacrilegious kind of guy. Mee encourages the plundering of old work.

In his "remaking project," Mee sees existing scripts as raw material, and dictates great artistic freedom with instructions like "cut them up, rearrange them, rewrite them, throw things out, put things in, do whatever . . ." -- this is the premise for the show, "Requiem."

Mee subscribes to the idea that there's no such thing as originality, that nothing hasn't been thought of already. He believes that creative packaging has the power to illuminate buried or short-lived perspectives. Irreverently, he directs readers/writers to "build your own entirely new piece out of the ruins."

Thus the 15 Head Theatre Lab revisionists found Sophocles' lost works and Mee's original "Requiem" script at a pawnshop (a two-for-one deal) and made some changes, imbibing Mee's work with the wisdom of the ancient Greeks.

Chances are neither playwright would recognize this "Requiem" -- a new multimedia play about lust, betrayal and murder -- as theirs. Mee, for one, would be pleased.

Friday-Saturday thru June 26, 8 p.m., (plus Monday, June 21, 7 p.m.), Red Eye Theater, 15 W. 14th St., $10-$16. 870-0309.

Message in a box

Struck by the poignant boxes of artist Joseph Cornell, gallery owner and artist Kellie Rae Theiss pondered her own valuables and packed them carefully in diminutive boxes of her own creation. "Fragile" is the key word for these packages. But the boxes aren't sealed tightly or labeled -- she's not preparing to move. Neither are they meant for storage. These packages are "Prayer Boxes," filled simply with handfuls of feathers, sticks, dragonflies, wooden eggs and carved birds, like a childhood assemblage of treasures. The nesting weeds and wildlife are messages-in-a-box about their own fragility.

The dioramas' distressed pine frames also resonate with the sounds of kids' long-gone footsteps, chuckles and even studying -- noises locked into the grain of the planks salvaged from a rural 1800s schoolhouse.

Some of the boxes are resting places -- with birds that lie in repose. Others contain intimate painted settings. Her meta-boxes commune quietly with nature, suggesting both appreciation and hope.

Thru July 17, Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Kellie Rae Theiss Gallery, 400 1st Ave. N., Free. 339-1094.

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