May 06

Roll credits

It’s just a TV show. An entertaining TV show. A well-written TV show. A well-acted TV show. But, still, just a TV show. It isn’t real. And that is the reason I feel compelled to do something I have never done before. Write something about the end of a long-running television show about a president of the United States who actually cared about the country he was governing.

Bartlett plane bank 2 credits

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May 06

“Tabling” at North Country Coop 35th anniversary

There is a small sign in the store. “North Country Coop in continuous operation for 35 years. That’s 200 years in Coop years.” You can say that again. What a remarkable achievement by the Twin Cities oldest food cooperative. Now they number possibly a dozen. North Country Coop, as the day manager explained, is “the mother of all food coops.” This in answer to my question about why NCDF has virtually the same name. Today NCC is not the largest food coop in the metro area and, by some standards, probably not the most successful. But they’re still plugging away and now they are one of only two coops that continues its volunteer program in addition to paid staff. Hampden Park, our coop here in St. Paul, is the other one. All of the other food coops in the metro area, anyway, now are entirely managed by paid staff. That’s not a bad thing but it is a different business model.

 Staffing the NCDF presence Checking Out Music 

Patrick open for business | Checking out | Music

Maybe it could be said about NCC that it is “the little coop that could.” It’s rich traditions has it continuing to serve a highly diverse customer and member base. New Americans shop in the store and volunteer. Clearly they have a very loyal base with the Seward Coop less than a mile away over on Franklin Avenue. Not too many years ago NCC had an opportunity to take a very big step: purchase the building in which the store is located. I am proud to say that NCDF was there when NCC needed a loan to make that purchase possible.

May 06

Staged marriage

Ernest and Ernestine are in love. Or at least they think they are. This latest dark comedy, the work of Lost & Found Theatre of Kitchener, Ontario, leaves all the biggest questions unanswered. And that is the choice of the production as the playwrights had something more definitive in mind. But it is better this way because we are left to ask ourselves whether these two odd young people understand nothing or too much.

The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine. Two actors on a spare stage. The third actor is a cantankerous furnace that finds a way to help to define what’s in Ernest and Ernestine besides anger.

Key Props Here comes the show Advance

Key props | Director’s stage announcement | Advance story pdf

Read the advance by clicking above for more clues. Somehow these silly people manage to tell us something very distressing about ourselves. Married people encounter each other every day. Their relationship works because it has content. At the same time we can wear down the thing that makes us close. As with many young couples, these two are trying to learn about each other. They delve daily into each other’s hearts and find less and less. They delve daily into each other’s souls and find more and more. But they make it clear to each other that they don’t like what they are seeing.

 Stage Manager Behind the scenes Participation

Stage manager | Lights and sound | Appreciation

For this essay, I don’t want to be bound to the story itself. And it is beyond me to say much about the people behind the production, although I know all of them. I appear just in time to see two performances early in the run. And I disappear carrying with me a few photographs and and deep impressions. I carry away the experience of seeing their vision realized and I am allowed to step close as they go about their day and evening preparing for the moment and being in the moment. The stage manager, who in this production happens to be my sister, whispers into her microphone as she crouches over the dimly glowing switches and flickering monitor of a light board. Her partner cues music. Lights. Actors on stage.

Furnace manual Furnace

How to manual | Animating furnace

Each time I make this journey to Canada to experience their latest miracle of sound, light, drama and stagecraft I come away wondering both why do they do it and how can they NOT. Art calls and some few dare to stand up and answer. My sister and her colleagues at Lost & Found Theatre are among those who make this choice. Through their work they allow us a moment to share some part of their creative expression. That is their intent, anyway. And the audience brings its story to the evening’s performance. The artists come away seeking to understand the people who have just sat before them. This exchange at its core helps us know we are alive. Theatre captures all of us in that moment.