Out There, now in its 22nd season, is predictable only for its unpredictability. It is consistent in that the four performance works presented by the Walker Art Center each January are always provocative, helping to define the future of this art form. Through cunning combinations of text, media, visual theater, sound, and physical drama,
Out There 2010
, presented January 8–31, features a particularly broad spectrum of new performance—from solo riffs and long-distance calls to beery abandon and astonishing illusions.
“Out There has always pointed the way toward where theater and performance may be headed in the future,” says Philip Bither, the Walker’s McGuire Senior Curator of Performing Arts. “This year’s series, featuring companies from Holland, Germany, New York, and Los Angeles, offers a thrilling spectrum of new performance practices, spanning new puppetry, experimental ensemble theater, live film, personal and poetic monologue, and site-specific one-on-one theater. In an unprecedented move, we will be running Rimini Protokoll’s Call Cutta in a Box: An Intercontinental Phone Play from the 40th floor of the IDS Tower for the entire month of January. It is simply one of the most unusual and memorable interactive theatrical experiences I have ever encountered.”
This year’s Out There festival opens with Rimini Protokoll’s series-long run of Call Cutta in a Box (Tuesdays–Saturdays, January 8–30). In this intimate production, participants engage in an hourlong conversation with a call-center agent in India that takes surprising twists as it connects the audience member with the greater world. On January 14–16, New York’s avant-garde theater troupe Radiohole presents its newest work Whatever, Heaven Allows, a Walker commission having its world premiere. This star-spangled, bawdy, American melodrama is inspired by Douglas Sirk’s 1950s films and Milton’s Paradise Lost. Out There continues with the Walker return of Obie Award-winning writer/director/actor Roger Guenveur Smith (Thursday-Saturday, January 21–23) with The Watt Towers Project. Smith’s solo theater piece is a multi-character journey through Los Angeles that reflects on everything from Basquiat and baseball, to race riots and childhood, featuring a score by Mark Anthony Thompson (aka Chocolate Genius). Out There 2010 concludes with Rotterdam-based Hotel Modern’s The Great War (Thursday–Saturday, January 28–30). The company combines miniature sets filmed by tiny cameras, puppetry, and scenic and sound effects to convey the ravages of World War I. Accompanied by live music and spoken excerpts from actual soldiers’ letters, The Great War is “poignant, powerful and yet so simple that, at times, it brings tears to the eyes” (Liverpool Daily Post).
Post-show Q&A on Fridays
January 15, 22, and 29
Inside Out There: Workshops with the Artists
Saturdays, January 16, 23, and 30, 11 am
Again this year, Out There includes a unique interactive workshop or educational series on the stage of the McGuire Theater. Inside Out There offers an opportunity to get the inside story from visiting Out There artists and to participate in classes and workshops with them. This year, artists performing in three Out There shows offer stimulating workshops on techniques, technology, research, improvisation, and more. Advance reservations highly encouraged. To reserve a spot, call 612.375.7600. Admission is $6 ($4 Walker members) for individual events.
Out There and Then Some…
Drinks & Discussions
Enjoy a complimentary drink with the artists in the Balcony Bar on opening night after each show in the McGuire Theater.
What’s Your “Out There” Personality?
Go to performingarts.walkerart.org and take a quiz that will match you with an Out There performance. See which way you swing!
Out There Festival Discount Pass
Experience all four performances for $50 with the discount pass.
A complete listing of Out There performances follow.
OUT THERE 2010
Unless otherwise noted, all performances take place in the Walker’s McGuire Theater.
Tickets and information: 612.375.7600 or walkerart.org/tickets
Call Cutta in a Box: An Intercontinental Phone Play
Appointment times (on the hour): Tuesday–Friday, 5–10 pm; Saturday–Sunday, 12 noon–9 pm
IDS Tower, 40th Floor, 80 South Eighth Street, Minneapolis
Note: Appointments are required for this is a solitary performance. Reservations may be made in pairs; two appointments begin on the hour; spots are limited.
A phone is ringing in an empty office at the IDS Tower in Minneapolis. It’s for you. Answer it and begin your personal performance experience that crosses continents, dissolves borders between audience and performer, and challenges cultural expectations. During an hourlong conversation with a call-center agent in India, everyday life is turned into theater, surprises are revealed, and our highly networked world is made more human.
German collective Rimini Protokoll has created “a thrillingly intimate production, which asks us to make the decision to be an audience member in an unusually active way” (Time Out New York). There’s a certain irony in using a capitalistic sales-service structure to spark memorable and genuine connections between people—not least because in today’s “experience economy,” those types of personal bonds have become valuable to corporations themselves.
Beyond that, Call Cutta in a Box represents a potential new direction for performing arts in the digital age. Rimini Protokoll company members Daniel Wetzel, Helgard Haug, and Stefan Kaegi have been working for years with non-professionals to create “Reality Trend” performances, a powerful influence on the alternative theater scene. Past works include real-world truck drivers taking audiences on a tour tracing the flow of goods, a German adoptee exploring her roots in South Korea and the global adoption business, and last summer’s “appropriation” of the Daimler annual shareholders’ meeting in Berlin, remaking it into their own elaborate performance.
With Call Cutta in a Box, which departs from a conventional stage production, a host of new ideas emerge from the company’s established forms.” This play offers you an opportunity to talk to subjects on the backstage of the globalization process,” Wetzel told an interviewer.* But despite the bridges it forms between people, it’s not simply about creating a global conversation—it’s a carefully constructed artistic experience, one that highlights what Wetzel calls the “theater of service.” As he explains it, “without constant monitoring of his theatrical performance, the Eastern performer of Western service would lose his part—that is, his job.”
The call-center workers in Call Cutta in a Box sit alongside colleagues who are serving people everywhere from Europe to Australia. But as Wetzel points out, “our people don’t work under the pressure of sales rankings. And they are not pretending to be someone else located close to you; they’re not using fake names, but spelling their real ones.”
*All quotes from an interview between Barbara van Lindt and Daniel Wetzel in the 2008 program for Kunsten Festival des Arts in Brussels.
Support provided by Producers’ Council members King’s Fountain/Barbara Watson Pillsbury and Henry Pillsbury. Performance space provided by Lindquist & Vennum PLLP.
Whatever, Heaven Allows
Walker Commission/World Premiere
Thursday–Saturday, January 14–16, 8 pm
“[Radiohole] turns out effervescent, anarchic work . . . cultivates an eccentric acting style and makes familiar text creepily bizarre.” —Time Out
Known for its radical and reckless theatricality, avant-garde New York troupe Radiohole’s newest work is a star-spangled American meta-melodrama inspired by film director Douglas Sirk’s 1950s potboilers and Milton’s epic Paradise Lost. Our heroine is an all-American “Eve” who must save her home from an evildoer while struggling to find fulfillment in a lasting relationship with a supposedly good man who looks like a god. Radiohole received the 2009 Spalding Gray Award, a commissioning collaboration between New York’s PS122, Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum, and the Walker (the 2008 award went to National Theater of the United States of America to create Chautauqua!, the runaway hit of Out There 2009). Copresented with the National Performance Network (NPN).
Whatever, Heaven Allows is an NPN Creation Fund Project commissioned by the Walker Art Center in partnership with the Andy Warhol Museum and the NPN, with support provided by the William and Nadine McGuire Commissioning Fund and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Inside Out There Workshop: Radiohole
Saturday, January 16, 11 am
$6 ($4 Walker members)
Explore a variety of methods Radiohole uses to create the text that forms the basis of its productions. Techniques include group writing, sampled writing, and in-ear feeds. Participants will also use some of the technology employed by the group.
Roger Guenveur Smith
The Watts Towers Project
Thursday–Saturday, January 21–23, 8 pm
“Smith’s monologue has a freestyle bounce, like a series of vivid dreams over the course of a restless night.” —Variety
Obie Award–winning writer/director/actor Roger Guenveur Smith (Huey P. Newton, Iceland) returns to the Walker with a funny and riveting jazz-infused meditation on making one’s mark as an artist. Inspired by working-class “outsider” artist Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers in Los Angeles, this tour-de-force solo theater piece is a free-ranging, multicharacter trip through the City of Angels that ruminates on Basquiat and baseball, race riots and childhood, Mingus and Mongo Santamaria. Featuring a powerful sound score by Smith’s longtime collaborator Mark Anthony Thompson (aka Chocolate Genius) and lighting design by Jose Lopez. A projected art film of the Watts Towers backdrops the performance, photographed and designed by Daniel Foster.
Inside Out There Workshop: Roger Guenveur Smith
Saturday, January 23, 11 am
$6 ($4 Walker members)
Don’t forget to breathe. Join Smith in a workshop exploring the improvisational impulse. Create new work for the stage. In the moment.
The Great War
Thursday–Saturday, January 28–30, 8 pm
“An astonishingly inventive and unbearably touching production.” —BBC Radio
Rotterdam’s Hotel Modern creates fascinating performance works that fuse drama, visual art, object theater, puppetry, music, and film. The company uses household paraphernalia to construct scale models of miniature worlds, then projects them on a large screen in real time. For its Midwest debut, the group presents its international festival sensation, The Great War, which reconstructs the trench warfare of World War I with sawdust, potting soil, rusty nails, and parsley “trees,” and incorporates script from actual letters from soldiers. Rain, wind, landslides, and explosions become staggeringly realistic on this diminutive battlefield as Hotel Modern exposes humanity’s war wounds. Presented in conjunction with the Walker’s film series Expanding the Frame: Journeys.
Support provided by Producers’ Council members Leni and David Moore, Jr./The Moore Family Fund for the Arts of The Minneapolis Foundation.
Inside Out There Workshop: Hotel Modern
Saturday, January 30, 11 am
$6 ($4 Walker members)
Join Hotel Modern for a discussion and behind-the-scenes look at the production. Topics and in-depth demonstrations focus on sound art, film language used theatrically, the intersection of technology and art, and their research on World War I. Open to all, but please see the performance before attending the workshop.
Tickets to Rimini Protokoll’s Call Cutta in a Box are $20 ($16). Tickets to all other Out There 2010 performances are $18 ($15 Walker members) Thursdays; $20 ($16) Fridays–Saturdays. Out There ticket package: $50 for all four performances. Contact walkerart.org/tickets or 612.375.7600.
The McGuire Theater’s new Balcony Bar will be open at 7:15 pm and after performances.