State of the Arts Blog

Bedlam welcomes theater lovers to St. Paul’s Lowertown with ‘Big Lowdown’

This weekend theater-goers will get to explore Bedlam Theatre's new stomping grounds in Lowertown, St. Paul.

Produced in collaboration with Live Action Set, "The Big Lowdown" takes audiences from alleyways to skyways for a series of theatrical vignettes.

Each piece is inspired by the same loose storyline: a young person goes to an elder for advice and is given a box of letters.

Audiences are divided into twelve walking trains who are guided along different routes to basements and bus stops, each its own dramatic destination.

"We're located in one of the most walkable neighborhoods in the Twin Cities," says Bedlam Executive Artistic Director John Bueche. "I hope our audience comes away from 'The Big Lowdown' with a new sense of adventure, a willingness  to look more at their surroundings, and the desire to take an alternate route."

Bedlam - The Big Lowdown
The Big Lowdown takes place in several spots around Lowertown, including Union Depot. (Photo by Michael Sommers)

Bedlam Theatre hasn't had its own stage since it closed the doors of "Bedlam Social" in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis back in 2010.

The theater company acquired a new space in St. Paul last summer, with the hopes of opening a new "nightclub theater" shortly thereafter. As with Bedlam Social, food and drink sales will help to fund the art.

While the new venue, "Bedlam Lowertown," is still months from opening its doors (while its building connects to District Energy), that hasn't stopped the company from making theater.

It presented theater pieces at the opening of the Union Depot, and participated in this summer's Northern Spark.

Bedlam - The Big Lowdown
"The Big Lowdown," co-produced by Bedlam Theatre and Live Action Set, takes theater-goers on a journey through alleyways and skyways in Lowertown, St. Paul. (Photo by Michael Sommers)

In addition to the new space in Lowertown, Bedlam continues to operate an office in Minneapolis. Bueche calls it the "design center," from which the company organizes collaborations with other theaters around the Twin Cities.

“Design Center is very much about testing building stuff to go somewhere else,” explained Bueche.  "We’re co-presenting at other spaces, but we’re really not presenting on our own stage until we open Lowertown."

Bueche has high hopes for the new space, which is located across from the Union Depot, on the new light rail line, and a short walking distance from the farmers' market, artist lofts and the soon-to-be-built Saints stadium.

"There's a lot of energy around the arts as an economic driver," Bueche reflects. "We’re living in a period of 'ecosystem design' and we’re trying to participate with what’s going on nationally."

The Big Lowdown runs tonight through Sunday starting at 8 p.m. at the St. Paul Union Depot. Wear your walking shoes.