In May I was lucky enough to get to travel to Berlin to visit the beautiful and brave Amber Davis (thanks, credit cards!). Many wonderful things happened during my visit to Berlin: a graffitti and street art tour, surprisingly good pizza, a computer game museum, late night beers and laughs with Amber, and so. much. theatre.
Seeing theatre in a foreign country is weird sauce, and I completely recommend it to everyone. Wanna see what another culture is like? Then watch as they hold up the proverbial mirror to themselves. I saw a wild and wonderful production of Romeo und Julia (seriously, check out the trailer), an unfortunately boring Bruckner production at the Berliner Ensemble, a pretty awful production of Threepenny in Munich, and so much more, both bad and good, new and classic. Right at the top of my list? Der Kirschgarten - yup, Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard - at the Maxim Gorki Theatre.
So yeah, I’m telling you I went all the way to Germany, and my favorite things were ROMEO AND JULIET and THE CHERRY ORCHARD. I kinda can’t believe myself. But here’s the thing: I learned a lot about Berlin and their theatrical styles because a) I already knew the plot of Romeo and Juliet so, even though it was all in German, I was able to get a lot out of it and b) the Maxim Gorki Theatre has English supertitles for ALL OF THEIR SHOWS.
I have a weird relationship with The Cherry Orchard - I’ve never actually read it (even though I was supposed to - sorry, Professors Fambrough and Staniunas!) but it was the topic in my Modern Drama class on Sept. 11, 2001. It has loomed large in my brain for over a decade. So when given the opportunity to finally see the darn thing, I was pretty zealous about it. At the end of the show the orchard is sold - and in this production it was sold to a Turkish family. And suddenly I was brought into the contemporary socio-political realm of German/Turkish strife over Turkish immigration to Germany. Bam. I got it. I was a part of the conversation.
I love the Gorki! And I love the neighborhood it’s in, and really, all of East Berlin.
I could go on. And on.
But the important thing here is this: I fell immediately in love with the Gorki because I felt like they wanted me to be there. I, as an audience member, was important to them. They provided translation for me and for other people like me.
So I came back home and set to work trying to put the Gorki’s good ideas to practice. And the idea to translate Savage Umbrella’s next full production into a foreign language? Well, it seemed like a given.
But what language? And how?
We tossed around the ideas of translating into Spanish, Hmong, and Somali - the second languages of the Twin Cities that made sense to us. Since the Southern Theater will be our home for the next three years thanks to ARTshare, reaching out to the large Somali population in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood made the most sense to us.
In order to help make this translation idea a success, we have a multi-part plan. Thanks to our recent MRAC grant (thank you, taxpayers of Minnesota!) we even have some money to put the plan into action. We’re working with Fadumo Ibrahim from the Cedar Cultural Center to help find someone to do live audio translation of two shows during our March-April run of These Are the Men. We’re offering two free workshops to Somali youth in order to teach them about our collaborative creation method. Those will be in January-February (we’re still setting the dates - stay tuned for details). And finally, we are hoping to cast some Somali performers in the production.
Our final round of auditions for These Are the Men will be in late October. We are trying our hardest to reach out to any and everyone we know who may have a connection to Somali performers, so that we can get as many folks as possible in to audition.
So we’re reaching out to you. Do you know someone who would love to come audition for us? Please help us spread the word! The details are here:
We are looking for 3 performers to round out a cast of 12. Each will have a specific character role to create, as well working with the full ensemble for role doubling, soundscapes, and movement. We would love to cast Somali actors and actresses!
This show is called THESE ARE THE MEN, and is based on the Oedipus myth. The show will be built specifically for and with the ensemble. We will use movement, sound and storytelling to explore themes both apparent and insidious in the myth, specifically from the point of view of Jocasta.
We will begin rehearsing in January of 2015, and our performances will be at The Southern Theatre - right here in Cedar Riverside! The show’s performances will be in March and April of 2015.
We are holding auditions
Saturday, October 25th
681 17th Ave NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time OR just show up on Sat. Oct. 25!
If you’re interested but unavailable at that time, other arrangement can potentially be made - just email the above email address.
That night in May in Berlin at the Gorki, sitting in my red velvet chair after the last streamer had fallen to the stage, I felt like a part of things, like a valued audience member, like a part of a community having a larger conversation. We at Savage Umbrella want to extend that same feeling of being valued to a new-to-us community. Because together is better than alone.