Minnesota Fringe Festival 2011

My Fringe

Minnesota Anthology: A History in Monologues (Part 1)

Last Cookie Productions

From Northfield, Minn.

Written by Jeffrey W. Tenney

Historical content, Drama

For ages 7+

The human character by turns is intriguing, complex, contradictory, mysterious, disappointing, alluring, frustrating, inspiring, boring and bold. Yet how much does the richness of our existence result from the infinite variation in how we humans are made?

This was as true in the past as it is today, and we can learn a lot from those who went before.

Minnesota Anthology: A History in Monologues explores the extent to which events in Minnesota's past were seen through different eyes and explained through different thoughtways. Perspective and personality explain reality as they are being shaped by it.

Listen to the prairie settler during the Dakota War, the sod-house mother and daughter, the Civil War soldier, the bank robber, casualties of the Great Hinkley Fire, the alzheimers victim, the broken-hearted and the lucky tell of their experiences.

Annette Kurek
Role: Director

Chari Eckmann
Role: multiple

Rod Kleiss
Role: multiple

Danielle Krivinchuk
Role: multiple

Brandon NeSmith
Role: multiple

Caroline Mitchell
Role: multiple

Marty Moreno
Role: multiple

Rich Reeder
Role: multiple

Farrington Starnes
Role: multiple

Garrett Vollmer
Role: multiple

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Very very good
by Shawn Lindsey Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Saw this during it's last run. Multigenerational audience and appeal. Great directing included use of full stage and room. Ending flash for photo especially effective. Order of characters and stories had the hour fly by. Writing was excellent. Makes me want to get the book to read part 2. Acting was fantastic, absolutely fantastic. Why did this show not get more fringe attention? Wish I would have seen on first day so I could have helped recommend. Good job to all.

by Richard Jackson Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
I love the language of these interconnected monologues. The acting could be more consistent, but the impact of the total is strong.

history brilliantly comes to life!
by Vicki Joan Keck Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Wow! I wish I had not waited until the end of the fringe to see this gem, because I can't tell others to go see it,now that the run is over. 35 diverse and intriguing vinettes acted out by an extremely talented cast. Spot on timing, music, directing - this was top notch from beginning to end. It should be required for anyone who considers history boring.... great, great job.

A Gem We'll See Again!
by kitty larson Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
The well-written stories and well-acted characters stick with you. The stories fit together beautifully. Being in the audience of this play is like white water rafting - it's not hard to paddle, lots of turns, whooshes, sun peeking out, a sense that everything is one. Makes it easy to appreciate history in general and the diversity beneath "MN nice". Look for this show to play in a bigger venue, on a regular basis, in the future!

Stories from the Heartland - GREAT
by Barry Wegener Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Wow! I couldn't believe how many stories were delivered in the short hour. Each character cut his/her own swath of history. While the Fringe forces minimal staging, I saw in my mind's eye the devastation of having mistakenly shot an Indian, the fire that killed so many, the Northfield raid ... Every actor took control of the space during their monologs and carried you away into their lives. Each story led to another and then to another. The poetic writing gave the actors grist to express their joy, frustration, sadness, devastation, matter-of-fact-ness in their lives and their deaths. I liked the staging that made use of the entire acting area. If you like Minnesota, if you like stories, go see this one. You won't be disappointed.

Very well done.
by Aleutian Calabay Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
This show was refreshing for it was simple, easy to follow, and had phenomenal acting. The story was very well told and each character was well developed. There was only two things that really bothered me, one was the actors had some trouble always finding their light. Second, in one of the monologues a character screams out of no where. I'm all for emotion and building a moment, but there wasn't any build up and honestly it my ears and totally distracted me from everything she was saying from then on.

A very well polished show and definitely a must see!

A for Effort
by Jim Pounds Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
It was nice to see a show where the artists aren't working out their personal problems in public. Instead, this ambitious piece attempts to give flavor to the average lives of Minnesotans in the 19th Century. There are some performances worth mentioning but the program made it impossible for me to tell who was who. The space offered interesting challenges and resulted in a lot of clumping up and down stairs in overbearing costumes that made it impossible even for the capable actors in the company to not look ridiculous. The pacing was funereal and the acting sub par at times but even so, there was an authenticity about some of these characters which was compelling. A notion of surviving in this place 150 years ago against all odds remains

Don't miss!
by Gary Peterson Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Poignant stories, powerful writing, pithy characterizations, and professional acting. Proof positive that the Fringe can be much more than a wasteland of good intentions. This one's well worth the admission!

A delightful surprise
by Curt Lund Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
This show was not on my radar at all, and judging by the prior reviewers, I was not alone -- this showcase seems to be flying under the radar. Very glad we picked it. Really interesting and engaging material drawn from a published collection of (it seemed) recollections and oral history -- perfect fodder for the nerdier show-goers among us. The whole cast did a fine job; a few of the cast members stood out as especially strong, but the program doesn't credit the specific roles, so I can't call them out. Kudos also to the director for inventive blocking -- the show really utilized the nontraditional space of the Rarig "X-Box". Four-and-a-half kitties, rounded up.

Unexpectedly Fantastic
by Rachel Pollack Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I popped in on this show because I had a friend in the cast, but I didn't expect something this amazing. Its title is deceptively boring: this show features so many stories, some intertwining and overlapping at different points, that it held me as a captive audience for the whole hour. As a (relatively) newcomer to Minnesota, it also gave me some insight into Minnesota's history. A woman I was speaking with after the show suggested that this play be shown in schools, and I fully support that idea - please take this show to kids. It is thought-provoking as well as entertaining.

Opening nite!
by Christine Clayburg Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
I really liked the vivid quality of the stories of our history told thru the eyes of individuals from that time in this show. The stories have come back to mind several times a day later...which I always take as a good sign of memorable work.

The author was there to read as a fill in for a missing cast member and I actually thought that it was wonderful to hear him read some of his own beautifully written and vivid descriptions in his own words. Love to see that stay!

The cast did a great job handling a wide range of characters in a short period of time.

I'd love to see a longer version of this but with perhaps a few positive stories of life even with it's difficulties included as well. As searing and memorable and accurate as the dark stories were...I did feel that the characters drawn were oversimplified to paint "the white man" as a complete fool, the "rich man" as a greedy bastard and "the christian" as a rabid senseless hater.

That aspect was A bit too cartoonish for my taste. My guess is that the reality on our northern plains 100 years ago was a bit more complex than the caricatures painted in this hour..and that the writer and actors had the talent to handle more complexity..which would have been fasciniting...but that for the time allotted they chose strong material and the actors did a good job with it.

For sure worth seeing. = )

Great stories, fantastic acting
by Sam Miske Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Went to this on a whim, filling some fringe time. The hour was over before I knew it. I loved this show about our Minnesota ancestors and their very personal stories told through monologues. Sound effects a little loud, some entrances a little slow. Wanted to give 4 kitties but acting has me give 5. Kudos especially to actors playing The Bank Cashier, The Private, and the tough Asthmatic woman. The author who was in the audience should have come down for a bow.

A Small Gem
by Sharon Kahn Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Amid all the thunder of the blockbuster performances packin' em in on Rarig Center's main floor it's easy to overlook this little gem of a story telling show tucked away in the basement theater. But it's well worth seeing: thoughtfully written, well delivered little stories that put a human face on some of the milestones in Minnesota history. In most cases we hear from more than one of the participants in each event, each telling the story from a different viewpoint. The segment I found the most emotionally powerful was the stories from the Great Hinckley Fire - an event that has been made into such a tourist cliche that we forget how immense and devastating an event it was.

If you go, don't be afraid to grab a seat in the front row for a truly intimate trip through Minnesota history.

35 stories in 60 minutes - wow!
by john zakelj Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
I didn’t think it was possible to fit 35 characters into 60 minutes but author Jeff Tenney pulls it off and it all makes sense. This play presents about 12 different stories from Minnesota’s history, with each one told from various perspectives. Events such as the Hinckley fire take on life and meaning. Eight actors do an amazing job of playing 35 roles. On opening night, timing of some of the sound effects seemed a little off, but still added to the captivating performance. I came away with an appreciation for the richness and diversity of the people of Minnesota.

Worth seeing
by Margaret Wolff Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Even with rough ending-rather abrupt- this performance was well worth it. Minnesota's history brought to life through dead characters. Educational and entertaining. Finally a finge show with capital P Professional acting.

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Saturday, 8/68:30 p.m. 
Sunday, 8/710:00 p.m. 
Monday, 8/87:00 p.m. 
Thursday, 8/117:00 p.m.This performance is audio described
Saturday, 8/131:00 p.m. 

U of M Rarig Center Xperimental venue information
330 21st Ave. S, Lower Level

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