A Line or Two: The Encyclopedia Show
Over the past few years, it's been fun to trace the development of a whole new ecosystem of performance on Twin Cities stages. We've long been known for what's called "legitimate" theater—the Guthrie/Jungle/Park Square mainstream and the many other companies that do plays with actors. And we've got a couple of pioneering comedy clubs, the venerable Brave New Workshop and Acme, that have earned plenty of national respect. Out on the fringes, those two civic treasures, Patrick Scully and Leslie Ball, have been hosting showcases of classifiable and unclassifiable cabaret-style performance—Patrick's Cabaret
—that welcome dance, singer-songwriter singing, drag, standup, arty performance art—you name it.
In the last decade or so, these stalwarts have been joined by performers in new forms: neo-burlesque (Le Cirque Rouge
), spoken-word art with its home in hip-hop, and a clutch of storytelling showcases, including Hot Dish
, run by The Line contributor Andi McDaniel and her partner, Eric Larson, and Loren Niemi's Two Chairs Telling
And then there's The Encyclopedia Show
. Imagine mixing all of the above performance genres into one evening at Kieran's Irish Pub
in downtown Minneapolis, and putting the whole thing in a semi-serious, semi-bogus framework: the advancement of knowledge. The idea is, take a topic from the encyclopedia: bears, skyscrapers, serial killers, anything—and organize a night of performance around it, mixing real experts with out-there comics, poets, improvisers, and what-have-you.
Our Encyclopedia Show, which has been running monthly since January, is one of many offshoots of the original, founded in Chicago in 2008 by Robbie Q. Teller and Shanny Jean Maney. Since then, the idea of creating crazy sort of adult-education evenings, bunches of blown TED-talk-parody performances, has grown at a brisk pace. E-Shows have popped up not just in Austin, Texas, Vancouver, and Los Angeles, but in Indianapolis, Oklahoma City, Omaha, and a number of other cities, including Seoul, South Korea.
Our next one is this Sunday at 7:30 at Kieran's and, yes, the theme is serial killers. (Sounds like a peaceful way to spend Sunday evening, no?) It'll be hosted by slam poet extraordinaire Allison Broeren and Brave New Workshop veteran and improv teacher Mike Fotis. "Together, they have dared to bridge the gaps between storytelling, poetry, theatre, improv, belly-dancing, stand-up comedy and more," says the copy on the show's Facebook page.
Performers include Duck Washington, Sarah Bizek, Meg Flynn, John Middleton, Orin Rubin, Brian Beatty, and Broeren. And there will be a fact-checker on hand--which is more than you can say for political conventions—though the checker will be Levi Weinhagen of the improv duo Comedy Suitcase
, so facts are likely to be handled with a certain improvisatory aplomb.