Art Hounds®

Art Hounds: Basketball onstage, Mama Hellcats and burlesque in Rochester

Basketball players pose for a photo
The cast of "Flex" at Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul.
Courtesy of Caroline Yang

From MPR News, Art Hounds are members of the Minnesota arts community who look beyond their own work to highlight what’s exciting in local art. Their recommendations are lightly edited from the audio heard in the player above. 

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A play about a team

Denise Tennan of St. Louis Park is a musician, writer, visual artist and dancer. She recently saw the play “Flex” at Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul, and now she’s singing from the rooftops to encourage others to see this in its final weekend. Shows are tonight (Thursday) and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m. 

Denise says: I think it’s worth everyone’s time to go see this production. The show takes place in rural Arkansas. It’s about a girl’s high school basketball team and their coach. They’re practicing drills and shooting baskets right there on stage.

The play touches on themes of poverty, sexual abuse, sexual identity, religion and racism. But at its heart, the play explores a tension between the needs of a team and the needs of individual players.

I’ve never seen anything that addresses that specific tension before. And as the coach repeatedly tells them, they are only as strong as their weakest link.  

I was astonished. They are so good.  

There are no weak links in this cast of six. Renowned Twin Cities actress Regina Marie Williams shines as the kick-ass coach to five young women.

The versatility of these young actresses is remarkable. They can move, they can act and they can sing. I was astonished. They are so good.  

The set design is brilliantly minimalist, and it supports every scene with subtle changes to clearly indicate a new location. The relationship between team members is rich and it’s varied.

The depth of relationship the coach has with each of these girls is exactly what you’d want in a coach and it extends beyond the game.

And it reminds me of the vitally important role a coach can play in a young person’s life, even more so, because she has her own flaws and she’s able to admit them. What I took away from this performance is the importance of knowing each other and being deeply known.

— Denise Tennan


Hook, ladder and Hellcats

Troy Lanoux of St. Louis Park is a big fan of local music. He’ll be in the audience for the show Mama Hellcats at The Hook and Ladder in Minneapolis. Six singer/songwriters who are also mothers take the stage.

They are Nikki Lemire, Kashimana, Katy Tessman and the Turnbuckles, Annie and the Bang Bang, Samantha Grimes Band and Haley E Rydel. Hosted by Ann Treacy of Mostly Minnesota Music, the evening of music also includes resources from local organizations that provide support for survivors of domestic violence. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. 

Troy says: I’ve been a longtime fan of Katy Tessman and her band The Turnbuckles, and I’ve gotten to know many of these artists that she works with.

It’s a fantastic group of singer-songwriters, and they all support and uplift one another.

True to the theme of motherhood, Troy points out that Katy’s band includes her son, Louis Tessman Stanoch, who rocks on electric bass. 

Troy Lanoux

Kashimana at Mid West Music Fest
Performer Kashimana of Mama Hellcats, pictured at the Mid West Music Fest in Winona.
Laura Buhman for MPR

As divine as disco

Allyson Palmer is co-owner of Thesis Beer Project, which is a craft brewery and music venue in Rochester. She’s looking forward to the Divine Disco, a burlesque event produced by Out Rochester and Burly Bluffs, Saturday evening at the Chateau Theatre in Rochester. Doors open at 7 p.m. for this age 18+ event. 

Allyson says: This will be the perfect night out after attending the Rochester Pride, which is also happening on Saturday.

It’s a community-focused, body-positive queer-centered event that will feature eclectic performances including burlesque, drag and live music, featuring performers from across the country, as well as local performers.

I’ve been fortunate to attend several prior Burley Bluffs performances in Rochester and always find them to be entertaining, energizing and full of glitz and glam.

The producers create safe and inclusive spaces and most importantly know how to have fun. It’ll be the biggest event that Burly Bluffs has thrown in their history.

— Allyson Palmer

This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment's Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.
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