Live Action Set's Noah Bremer (left) and Galen Treuer strike a pose
Twin Cities theater and dance ensemble Live Action Set has announced a major leadership shake-up. Since it began the Set's four founders, Noah Bremer, Vanessa Voskuil, Megan Odell, and Galen Treuer have shared the duties of artistic director over the years.
Now Bremer will lead the company alone.
"Numerous things brought it about" Bremer said this afternoon. "But really we were finding ourselves stuck. And then we sat down and said, 'What do we want? What do we want as individuals?' And we all wanted very specific things, and I wanted to run the company."
Bremer said the discussions began after the company's successful production of "My Father's Bookshelf" at the Guthrie last summer. It was an affecting examination of a family living in the shadow of a father's Alzheimers disease.
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Megan Odell told her colleagues she wanted to leave to focus on her family, and her acupuncture practice.
"There were tears, and it was hard, but we all understood" said Bremer. It forced the others to examine their own plans.
Galen Treuer said he planned to go to grad school in a year, so he could commit just another year to the company. Voskuil was also interested in moving on to other endeavors.
When Bremer said his passion lay in making theater and continuing on with Live Action Set, it launched a longer discussion.
Bremer and, in a later conversation, Vanessa Voskuil, stressed that this was a long and complex debate where they examined the situation from many angles. Eventually they reached the decision to have Live Action Set continue with Bremer as the salaried artistic director.
"Everyone is very excited for it to continue on," he said.
The new Live Action Set is still evolving, but Bremer envisions a larger acting ensemble, and more shows. The old model revolved around the central four producing one show a year.
"We really were a collective of four people trying to lead all together at the same time," Bremer said. They tried various models where one person would be given the final decision. "It never quite worked out," Bremer laughed.
He thinks the new arrangement will allow him to expand, while also unifying the vision. He says he'd like to return to some of the early Live Action Set work which was very dance oriented, while continuing to focus on social justice issues. However he also wants to do work based on his own clown training to give their pieces an accessibility while maintaining its poignancy. Also he has plans to do some family-friendly shows too
First up will be the "The Happy Show" at the Bedlam Theater in the spring. The production has been in development for some time, although Bremer admits the re-organization has pushed it on the backburner for a while.
"It's being slingshotted out now," Bremer said. He says the show which will examine the idea of happiness will be done as a promenade production, where audience members will have to make decisions as they move through the show.
"Part of the idea about happiness is always feeling like you made the wrong choice," Bremer laughs. "The choice you make will be great, but in the back of your mind there just might be a 'Oh, what would have happened if I took the other road?' So we are playing on that sort of inherent quality of being human."
Which on reflection seems to mirror the situation Live Action Set is in now.
However Bremer says while it's taken time to work through the arrangements, everyone is ok with it.
"Because there has been such a history of companies imploding in Minneapolis, we did learn from that, and we didn't want to follow in their footsteps," he said.
"There's no hostility. There's no animosity. Everybody's really happy with what's going on. We have come to this decision together. If people really didn't want me to run the company, the company would just cease to exist and we would all be fine with that as well because I would then just do the type of work I want to do. It just so happens the kind of work I want to do is what Live Action Set is, and always has been."