This fall, the
will start a new chapter in St. Paul’s Lowertown neighborhood.
Bedlam is a nonprofit organization whose "mission is to create radical works of theater with an emphasis on collaboration and a unique blend of professional and community art," according to theater materials.
It’s planning to open a “theater nightclub” in the 6,000-square-foot ground-floor space that the Rumors and Innuendo nightspot left almost two years ago.
In some ways, the vintage five-story brick building is similar to the Bedlam’s old venue in Minneapolis’s Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, with high ceilings and bright colors, according to Bedlam’s executive artistic director, John Bueche.
Bedlam was displaced a couple of years ago when the building’s landlord offered the lease to a neighborhood mosque.
In the interim, Bedlam has been staging “mobile operations,” with various projects taking place at a South Minneapolis warehouse, something that it plans to continue, he says.
Separately, the theater will also keep looking for a Minneapolis home base, he adds.
Besides being a performance space, the Lowertown location will be a social hub, with a restaurant and bar, much like its old setup, he says.
It’s fitting that Bedlam move into Lowertown, which has “long been sort of famous and revered as an artist neighborhood.”
In many ways, the theater ties in to the momentum there, he says.
At this point, changes to the space will be minimal. The theater does have "draft renovation" plans, which will be mounted on the walls inside the space, so that visitors can offer feedback.
Those renovations “could be as simple as a fixed stage arrangement or a flexible pattern, or it could have to do with how we interact with the outdoors,” or it could mean gutting the place.
“We’ve always been about making the audience feel a part of the action,” he says.
But for now, the theater is focused on the basic steps to get the place up and running this fall, including lining up the proper businesses.
“There’ll be a lot of fun theater events and a fluid mix of products and process,” he says, adding, “It’ll be low pressure. You can come in for a drink and see what’s going on in the theater club.”
A $150,000 Cultural Star Grant from the city, which will be allocated over two years, along with other pending grants, will help the theater start up, MPR reports
Source: John Bueche, Bedlam Theatre
Writer: Anna Pratt