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Press Releases Walker Art Center Presents Out There 2012: Global Visionaries

Featuring Artists from New York, Tokyo, Beirut, and Buenos Aires, Series Included Two Walker Commissions

Minneapolis, December 1, 2011— For 23 years, the Walker’s monthlong Out There Festival has served as the region’s premiere platform for presenting works in alternative theater and new performance. In 2011, Out There presented a range of innovative, surprising productions from across Europe. This year’s series focuses on four individuals from disparate locations: Young Jean Lee (New York), Rabih Mroué (Beirut), Toshiki Okada (Tokyo), and Mariano Pensotti (Buenos Aires). Philip Bither, the McGuire Senior Curator of Performing Arts, had dual goals in curating this particular theatrical quartet for the January festival. “With globalization, touring has become much more common for performing artists from far-flung places. In part, that means that they can represent more than just an exotic ‘other’ to audiences, especially at the Walker,” he says. “I really do see these four as visionaries in that they’re charting exciting new directions for theater. But at the same time, the work they’re presenting is grounded in ideas and experiences that are shared across continents today—a distrust of government, a redefining of women’s struggles, or ruminations on young people maturing and coming to terms with some harsh realities.”

Out There 2012 opens with the world premiere of the Walker commissioned Untitled Feminist Show by Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company (Thursday–Saturday, January 5–7). Bither describes her work as “brave, unpredictable, scalding, darkly funny, deeply in tune with our times, she pulls out her sharpest scalpels for the hypocrisies, pre-judgments, ignorance and self-obsessions of our times, with an attuned eye on the racial, cultural and gender questions that seem to continue to bedevil us. Her approach is to terrify herself—taking on subjects she either feels she has no business confronting or that she would simply hate to have to write a play about. I agree with the New Yorker’s Hilton Als who said that every Young Jean play is pervaded by a sense of danger as well as as ‘painful, gorgeous, highly theatrical hysteria.’”

The series continues with the debut U.S. tour by Rabih Mroué, Looking for a Missing Employee, (Thursday–Saturday, January 12–14). Bither calls the Spalding Gray award winner “conceptual, charming, a trickster, an unreliable narrator, deeply frustrated about his beloved country’s dispiriting failures, but an artist who raises deeper questions about memory, history, truth, fiction, real-life and the loss of innocence and grand global forces that act far outside our ability to perceive or even question them.” Mroué also shows his piece, the Walker-commissioned work The Pixelated Revolution, as part of Inside Out There (Saturday, January 14).

Japan’s chelfitsch/Toshiki Okada returns to Out There with a trio of interconnected stories, Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner, and The Farewell Speech (Thursday–Saturday, January 19–21). “Okada is a skilled manipulator of the body and its unconscious ability to convey stress and emotional imbalance, a keen social commentator on an economically, and at times spiritually, lost generation in Japan,” remarks Bither. “His work won such wide acclaim internationally not just because of its freshness formally, but also because the themes and existential crisis of a generation depicted is something that today feels so universal.”

Out there 2012 concludes with Mariano Pensotti’s_El Pasado es un Animal Grotesco (The Past Is a Grotesque Animal)_ on Thursday–Saturday, January 26–28. Bither calls Argentine theater director Pensotti’s work “epic, cinematic, exuding a showman’s bravura, simultaneously humanistic and ironic, young, and romantic. He is a creator of brilliant stagecraft and unexpected techniques, a chronicler of not just a generation but of the passage of time itself.”

Inside Out There: Workshops with the Artists

Saturdays, January 7, 14, 21, and 28, 11 am

William and Nadine McGuire Theater

Each week of Out There includes a unique workshop or educational activity on the McGuire Theater stage. Inside Out There offers opportunities to get the inside story from visiting Out There artists and participate in classes with them. Advance reservations highly encouraged. To reserve a spot, call 612.375.7600. Admission is $6 ($4 Walker members) for individual events. Purchase the series of four: $20 ($12).

Out There and Then Some…

Drinks & Discussions in the Balcony Bar

Meet the artists, talk about the show, and enjoy a beer, wine, or a specialty cocktail (featuring Prairie Organic Vodka). Open before and after all performances.


Reception with the artists in the Balcony Bar after the show.


Post-show Q & A with the artists


SpeakEasy discussion with a tour guide and local performers from SuperGroup after the show in the Balcony Bar.


Out There Festival Discount Pass

Experience all four performances for $50 with the discount pass.

Call the box office to take advantage of this offer: 612.375.7600.

Single Tickets

$18 ($15) Thursday; $22 ($18) Friday–Saturday

All performances take place in the Walker’s William and Nadine McGuire Theater. Tickets and information: 612.375.7600 or walkerart.org/tickets

A complete listing of Out There performances follows.

Out There 2012: Global Visionaries

January 5–28

Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company

Untitled Feminist Show

Walker Commission/World Premiere

Thursday–Saturday, January 5–7, 8 pm

$18 ($15) Thursday; $22 ($18) Friday–Saturday

“She offers the pleasure of brazen theatrical inventiveness.” —New Yorker

“My work has never been about lecturing and bullying people,” says Lee. “It’s been about tricking and confusing them into submission in a playful/fanged way.” In her second Walker commission, she presents her hilarious, disorientating exploration of feminism and gender fluidity. This theatrical provocateur uses movement by irreverent New York choreographer Faye Driscoll, tongue-in-cheek video, and Lee’s brilliant, sometimes surreal stage images to upend accepted societal notions of female beauty and power in this darkly comic and unsettling production.

Performance contains only nudity.

Commissioned by the Walker Art Center with support provided by the William and Nadine McGuire Commissioning Fund, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Inside Out There: Young Jean Lee

Saturday, January 7, 11 am

William and Nadine McGuire Theater

Playwright/director Lee answers questions about writing, directing, and producing plays. Experienced writers and occasional dabblers should come prepared to write.

Rabih Mroué

Looking for a Missing Employee

Walker Commission/Debut US Tour

Thursday–Saturday, January 12–14, 8 pm

$18 ($15) Thursday; $22 ($18) Friday–Saturday

“[He is] to Beirut what the Wooster Group is to New York: a blend of avant-garde innovation, conceptual complexity and political urgency, all grounded in earthy humor.” —New York Times

In his US debut tour, Rabih Mroué illuminates the elusive nature of personal and national memory with Looking for a Missing Employee, a riveting and timely performance puzzle. Using video with multicamera live feeds, he brilliantly merges storytelling, historic detritus, and live sketch art. Is it truth or fiction? You decide as he sweeps you along in this tale that unearths the mutable realities of daily life in his homeland and the ever-increasing skepticism around Middle Eastern leadership. Mroué also presents his latest short piece, The Pixelated Revolution, a work-in-progress co-commissioned by the Walker, on Saturday, January 14, as part of Inside Out There.

Rabih Mroué is the recipient of the 2010 Spalding Gray Award from PS 122, the Andy Warhol Museum, On the Boards, and the Walker Art Center.

Support provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Producers’ Council members Leni and David Moore, Jr./The Moore Family Fund for the Arts of The Minneapolis Foundation.

Inside Out There: Rabih Mroué’s The Pixelated Revolution

Saturday, January 14, 11 am

William and Nadine McGuire Theater

Join us for a special, Walker-commissioned showing of Mroue’s latest work, The Pixelated Revolution, an eye-opening lecture-performance about the impact of mobile phones and social media in the recent Syrian uprising.

chelfitsch/Toshiki Okada

Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner, and The Farewell Speech

Thursday–Saturday, January 19–21, 8 pm

$18 ($15) Thursday; $22 ($18) Friday–Saturday

“chelfitsch is one of the most acclaimed phenomena in Japan’s theater scene from the last decade.” —CNN

Known for his highly stylized hybrid of oddly humorous text, distinct lighting, and idiosyncratic movement, Japanese writer-director Toshiki Okada and his company chelfitsch follow up their 2009 Out There engagement with a trio of interconnected stories about youthful low-level office workers. Suddenly considered disposable, these twenty-somethings regard current capitalism and its cultural toll with a dark and unmistakably Japanese sense of humor. Each story in the triptych combines Okada’s singular style interwoven with the perfectly chosen work of a modern musical artist—John Cage, John Coltrane, and Stereolab. A fresh voice in international theater, Okada strikes the perfect balance between wit and poignancy, crystallizing the daily lives of another country’s lost generation. In Japanese with English supertitles.

Support provided by the Performing Arts Japan program of the Japan Foundation, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and the Saison Foundation.

Inside Out There: Toshiki Okada and chelfitsch

Saturday, January 21, 11 am

William and Nadine McGuire Theater

Join chelfitsch playwright/director Toshiki Okada as he guides participants to draw on unconscious physical movements to create conscious choreography. Participants are encouraged to see the performance before attending the workshop. Open to artists of all levels.

Related Event

A Think & A Drink: chelfitsch

Thursday, January 19, 7–11 pm

Free for Walker members; paid ticket required for performance

Join fellow members and the Japan America Society of Minnesota for context on the unique challenges faced by today’s young Japanese professionals, and then enjoy the opening-night trio of performances by Toshiki Okada and his company chelfitsch. After the show, enjoy drinks with the artists and performing arts curators in the McGuire Theater’s Balcony Bar. Participants receive specially priced tickets and a free drink, but space is limited, so reserve yours early: 612.375.7655 or membership@walkerart.org.

Mariano Pensotti

El Pasado es un Animal Grotesco (The Past Is a Grotesque Animal)

Thursday–Saturday, January 26–28, 8 pm

$18 ($15) Thursday; $22 ($18) Friday–Saturday

“Pensotti has a fine facility with irony, with the fine balance between comedy and tragedy and, most of all, with the ability to capture an epic psychosis in an unpretentious nutshell.” —British Theatre Guide

It’s 1999 in Buenos Aires. Mario, Laura, Pablo, and Vicky are in their mid-twenties and ready for careers, love, and adult life. Over the next 10 years, Argentina’s economy will collapse and their dreams and the world will turn unexpectedly. In this fast-paced, multilayered “mega fiction,” Argentine theater director Mariano Pensotti deftly unfolds a span in the lives of these interconnected characters, ingeniously using a turntable set to convey time’s ceaseless march and divide the action into four spaces in which vital moments play out in their lives. The quartet learns how easily real life can transform into fiction and back again. In Spanish with English supertitles.

Note: Performance contains mature content.

Inside Out There: Mariano Pensotti

Saturday, January 28, 11 am

William and Nadine McGuire Theater

Take a behind-the-scenes look at the Grotesco set, hear about Pensotti’s theatrical craft and vision, and get a survey of current Argentine theater from company member Juan Pablo Gómez.

Adult learning opportunities are made possible by Richard and Claudia Swager.

Performing Arts Supporters

The Walker Art Center’s performing arts programs are made possible by generous support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation through the Doris Duke Performing Arts Fund, the William and Nadine McGuire Commissioning Fund, The McKnight Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Producers’ Council

Performing Arts programs and commissions at the Walker are generously supported by members of the Producers’ Council: Russell Cowles; Sage and John Cowles; Robert and Katherine Goodale; Nor Hall and Roger Hale; King’s Fountain/Barbara Watson Pillsbury and Henry Pillsbury; Emily Maltz; Dr. William W. and Nadine M. McGuire; Leni and David Moore, Jr.; Josine Peters; Mike and Elizabeth Sweeney; and Frances and Frank Wilkinson.

Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company, Untitled Feminist Show, Out There 24 (2012)

Photo by Blaine Davis