'Driving While Black,' liquor tastings, dance in a boxing gym: A-List 3.21-27

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Elise Fitte-Duval

This week we have a special movie screening on police violence, a wrestling party at the VFW, and a visit from Dan Savage. Come take a look. 

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'Driving While Black'

THURSDAY 3.22

Driving While Black
Lagoon Cinema

“As a black man, I have to deal with an extra layer of bullshit on top of regular life,” the lead character explains in Driving While Black, a dark comedy that looks at the impact racial profiling and police brutality have on the psyche of minorities. Told from the perspective of Dimitri, a black pizza driver who is offered a job driving a Hollywood tour bus, the film has won numerous awards at festivals across the country. While it’s expected to have a digital release sometime this year, there is no firm date announced yet. That means this could be your only chance to catch a screening locally for quite a while. Aside from being emotionally engaging and funny, Driving While Black is incredibly authentic. It’s definitely a comedy, but the movie’s flashbacks show the harrowing psychology behind Dimitri’s attitude toward police, providing insightful glimpses into black experiences and police attitudes about “race out of place.” 7:30 p.m. $12-$15. 1320 Lagoon Ave., Minneapolis; 612-823-2030. —Patrick Strait

F1RST Wrestling
James Ballentine Uptown VFW

The F1RST Wrestling revolution is growing. The biannual Wrestlepalooza takeover of First Avenue has become a must-see for wrestling fans and non-fans alike, and the organization has spread its barbed-wire-covered wings over the past year with shows at other venues around town. This week, local favorites “The Anarchist” Arik Cannon, Darin Corbin, and Air Wolf will be joined by some of the biggest names in independent wrestling—including Sami Callihan, Jessicka Havok, and “The King of Dong Style” Joey Ryan—for a night of pure insanity. Unlike the Wrestlepalooza events that have more of a punk-rock variety-show vibe with music, wrestling, and burlesque, this Thursday’s show is focused entirely on the action in the ring. The night is 21+, which means you won’t see any of that Roman Reigns PG-era WWE bullshit. Just pure, nonstop brutality, high-flying aerialists, and maybe a grown man suplexing people with his penis. 21+. 8 p.m. $12-$25. 2916 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-823-6233. —Patrick Strait

Rigoletto
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

In Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto, working-class people find themselves oppressed by the Duke of Mantua, a lecherous, grabby-handed ruler who thinks he can foist himself on his female subjects without recourse. “When you’re a duke, they let you do it. You can do anything,” he might have said, hypothetically. When the hunchbacked jester Rigoletto schemes to protect his daughter from the Duke’s advances, he sets in motion one of opera’s most famous misfortunes. So either Verdi successfully articulated timeless extremes of human behavior way back in early 1800s, or we’re all currently living in a grand tragedy. Regardless, this classic of the repertory from one of opera’s great composers will grab you by the aria. Olafur Sigurdarson stars as the doomed Rigoletto alongside Marie-Eve Munger as his daughter, Gilda, and Joshua Dennis as the Duke. Austin Regan directs this production conducted by Michael Christie. Show dates vary; check mnopera.org for tickets and more info. 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday, March 25. $25-$200. 345 Washington St., St. Paul; 651-224-4222. Through March 31 —Bryan Miller

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L-R: Julia Iredale, Kailey Whitman, Luisa Spread

FRIDAY 3.23

Arboretum
Light Gray Art Lab

 

We don’t always get a full-on spring here in Minnesota, but this week marks the arrival of the season on the calendar. To celebrate, Light Gray gallery is hosting four exhibitions showcasing the beauty of botany, the peacefulness of nature walks, and all the delightful edibles—herbs, berries, mushrooms—to be found growing wild. Over 70 artists from around the world have contributed to the collections. There will be plein air paintings, enchanted forest illustrations, science-inspired botanical drawings, story-filled comic works, zines, and collections of natural ephemera. Check it all out at the opening reception on Friday, March 23, from 7 to 10 p.m. 118 E. 26th St., Minneapolis; 612-239-2047. Through April 20 —Jessica Armbruster

Luna Gale
The Southern Theater

In 2015, Twin Cities actor and writer Kory LaQuess Pullman took a look around the local scene and realized that there wasn’t a consistent output of plays exploring the issues that people of color, women, and LGBTQ people face. So he founded Underdog Theatre that year. The company strives to create performances that speak to marginalized and underrepresented communities. Underdog’s latest show is a production of Rebecca Gilman’s Luna Gale. The play follows a teenage couple as they fight for the right to raise their own child, Luna Gale, while struggling with drug addiction and challenges that spring from being young parents. LaQuess Pullman brings his acting chops to the show, where he’s part of an ensemble of diverse and stellar performers led by director H. Adam Harris. The show is in previews Thursday, March 22. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, plus Monday, March 26; 2 p.m. March 31 and April 1. $12-$24; Monday night is pay-as-able. 1420 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-326-1811. Through April 1 —Sheila Regan

Dan Savage
Pantages Theatre

“It started as a joke,” says Dan Savage of his Savage Love column, which runs in City Pages as well as dozens of other alternative newsweeklies in North America. “I was going to treat straight people with the same contempt that straight advice columnists had always treated gay people.” He thought it would last a year before the gag finally played itself out, but instead it turned into a real advice column with real questions. “It was all a big accident,” he adds. After a few years, the paper in which it started, Seattle’s The Stranger, began making money, and was able to offer its employees benefits. “Then the column got syndicated, and holy crap, it turned into the rest of my life.” His stage show differs from his column in a distinct way. “People get to see I’m not omniscient,” he says. “People will ask me, ‘How is it you have all the answers?’ I tell them, ‘I don’t print questions I don’t have answers for.’” Onstage he takes questions right from the audience with no screening. “That’s where the appearance of being omniscient crumbles,” he laughs. 8 p.m. $35; $75 with VIP meet-and-greet. 710 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-339-7007. —P.F. Wilson

Nora Chipaumire: Portrait of Myself as My Father
Uppercut Boxing Gym

Zimbabwe/New York-based choreographer Nora Chipaumire usually focuses her dance-theater work on African female identity. In this production, however, she’s joined by two black men as she investigates questions and issues of black masculinity. The piece takes place in a boxing ring, penning in the dynamic performers as both a metaphor and a reality. The source of her material is her relationship with her father, whom she rarely saw and hardly knew. Athletic, turbulent, and outfitted with African talismans, goggles, and workout gear, the performers swing from the ceiling on elastic bands and joust under the weight of prejudice and history for 75 minutes. Just like them, you’ll leave breathless and in awe. 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday. $25. 1324 Quincy St. NE, Minneapolis; 612-375-7600. Through Sunday —Camille LeFevre

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SATURDAY 3.24

Minnesota Spirits Fest
The Museum of Russian Art

 

A bottle of vodka or aquavit is a bigger investment than a six-pack of beer, which can make it hard to sample the many spirits being made across the state. At the Minnesota Distillers Guild’s first-annual festival, the idea is to bring all the booze to you. Over 15 distilleries will be onsite pouring neat spirits and mixing special cocktails to show off their craft. Try liquors from metro hotspots like Tattersall, Lawless, and Twin Spirits, and venture outstate with samples from Vikre, Far North, Chankaska, and RockFilter. Surdyk’s Catering will provide hors d’oeuvres to absorb the alcohol, and patrons can explore the exhibits at the Museum of Russian Art as they imbibe. 21+. 7 to 10 p.m. $50; $75 VIP; $25 designated driver. 5500 Stevens Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-821-9045. —Loren Green

Relay Relay
Red Eye Theatre

If you’ve ever wondered about the process of creating movement, music, and mood, here’s a way to learn. During this 22-hour marathon, 20 local artists working in dance, theater, music, and performance art will interview each other on stage. Think of it as a “from the horse’s mouth” kind of event, with the ideas of collaboration, experimentation, and critical discourse as the starting points. Emily Gastineau, Jeffrey Wells, and Rachel Jendrzejewski came up with the idea. The artists include Chantal Pavageaux, Sonya Berlovitz, Kimberly Richardson, Maia Maiden, Karen Sherman, Emmett Ramstad, Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra, and Rosy Simas. Attendees are free to come and go. Find more details at relayrelay.info. 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. $8-$22. 15 W. 14th St., Minneapolis; 612.870.7531. Through Sunday —Camille LeFevre

Measure for Measure
Gremlin Theatre

Though the postponement of A Wives’ Tale, the much-anticipated new work from playwright Christina Ham, served as a disappointment, Theatre Unbound has found a compelling substitute in a buzz-worthy adaptation of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure. This new production boasts the insightful artistry of director Kate Powers, a Fulbright Scholar in Shakespeare who earned an M.A. with Distinction at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon. This background has steered Powers to the formidable task of reworking the contested text of Measure for Measure by removing suspected alterations made by playwright Thomas Middleton after Shakespeare’s death. Powers refines the core narrative (involving the lechery of a hypocritical judge) while relating its themes of gender inequity to our current culture, where women still find themselves fighting to have their voices heard. As founder of the Redeeming Time Project, a nonprofit dedicated to using theater to inspire positive change in the lives of incarcerated and recently released prisoners, Powers has much experience using Shakespeare to make a connection with nontraditional audiences. And with Theatre Unbound celebrated for its focus on increasing representation for women, this production possesses a vitality perfectly aligned to our moment in time. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, plus Monday, March 26; 2 p.m. Sundays. $18-$22. 550 Vandalia St., St. Paul; 651-228-7008. Through April 8 —Brad Richason

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Bill Cameron

Threads Dance Project: Tapestries 3.0
TEK Box Theater

For 11 years, Threads Dance Project has been growing in artistic maturity and critical acclaim. The company, which celebrates diversity and interconnections through movement and storytelling, has been popular from the get-go. For this performance, they invited three local choreographers to create new work: the dynamic and charismatic Vie Boheme, formerly with TU Dance and now at Camille A. Brown & Dancers; longtime dance supporter and choreographer Jim Liberthal, who moves with muscular clarity in his shape-based work; and Alexandra Bodnarchuk, formerly with Robin Stiehm’s Dancing People Company, who also performs with Black Label Movement. 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $22-$25. 528 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-206-3636. Through Sunday —Camille LeFevre

MONDAY 2.26

The 24 Hour Plays
Pantages Theatre

Like all art forms, musical theater faces a persistent challenge in cultivating emerging talents on limited resources. The 24 Hour Plays take an entertaining approach to raising funds. Since 1995, the NYC-based 24 Hour Company has invited a group of artists (generally six playwrights, six directors, and 24 actors) to create six original plays and perform them for a live audience, all within the hectic span of a single day. Renowned for sparking fresh inspiration from seasoned pros and rising artists, the 24 Hour Plays epitomize the invigorating rush of creation, as the intrepid participants scramble to develop a concept, draft a script, assign roles, and rush through rehearsals all before the curtain rises. This staging at the Pantages Theatre boasts an ensemble of local and national actors, including the headlining trio of Chase Masterson (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Broadway vet Michael Gruber, and Minnesota native Joel McKinnon Miller (Brooklyn Nine-NineBig Love). Proceeds supports theatrical training via Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Spotlight Education. 8 p.m. $35; $75-$100 VIP. 710 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-339-7007. —Brad Richason


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