Arts and Culture

Arts Briefs: Neurodiversity and the arts

People on stage
Michael Wolfe in performance with the Interact Center for the Visual and Performing Arts in October 2022.
Courtesy of Thomas Sandelands

Arts Briefs is a weekly roundup of Minnesota Arts News compiled by the MPR News arts team.

Not your neurotypical event

The Parkway Theater in Minneapolis is hosting an event about art, science and neurodiversity at 6 p.m. June 2.

The event is called Thresholds and will feature two short films. One is a documentary on Michael Wolfe of the Twin Cities, who identifies as a “Black, queer performance artist with autism.”

Wolfe will also give a performance about his daily life and inner world. Neuroscientist Guadalupe Astorga will speak on her research about the neurodiversity of visual perception.

Stories from seniors

A new book and podcast launched May 29 showcasing writing from older Minnesotans. “A Nest in My Heart: Stories by Southeast Seniors” was coordinated by arts educator Anne Sawyer.

Sawyer explains that she “had my work cut out as an editor,” as the writing was quite diverse, including memoirs, memories of travels, and one story that seemed inspired by Stephen King about teens parked in a car.

“They were, you know, getting hot and heavy,” Sawyer recalls. “And suddenly, they heard a noise. And you know, they were in a perfectly dark place. And then they turned on the light in the car was covered with rats.

“Yeah, so you get some really great writing from and it just, it's just so varied and so interesting.”

McKnight Fellows announced

The Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis and the McKnight Foundation have announced the 2024-25 McKnight fellows. Playwright fellows include Twin Cities actor and playwright Antonio Duke and Minneapolis playwright Whitney Rowland.

Tyler Michaels King, who recently starred in “Richard II” at the Guthrie, was announced as a McKnight Theater Artist Fellow.

The fellowship program provides cash awards to outstanding mid-career Minnesota artists.

Baby opera sells out

Friday and Saturday, the Ordway and Minnesota Opera is offering an unusual performance: NOOMA, an opera for babies.” Alas, even if your bantling is the sort to reach for a tuxedo or gown and opera glasses, they are out of luck, as all three shows are sold out.

Nonetheless, we couldn’t let such an unusual performance go uncommented on, so we spoke to the show’s director, Bergen Baker. She describes the show as one mostly defined by wordlessly sung sounds and dancelike movement.

But “NOOMA” has a conception as grand as any opera, based in the idea of a triple goddess, “which is this very popular spiritual idea that brings together three distinct aspects into one being.”

“The triple goddess represents the maiden, the mother and the crone,” Baker continues.

Asked if there might be a risk that babies, having seen the show, might not be confused afterward when people fail to spontaneously break into song, Baker laughs. “I mean, I wonder why people don’t do that.”

A baby dancing
A performance of “NOOMA, an opera for babies.”
Courtesy of the Minnesota Opera

Longtime Theater Mu artist to serve as interim artistic director

Theater Mu in St. Paul, which specializes in telling Asian American stories, has announced an interim artistic director. Current artistic director Lily Tung Crystal will be leaving at this season to head up East West Players in Los Angeles.

Mu’s interim director will be Katie Bradley, an actor and director who has worked with the Guthrie Theater and The Children’s Theatre, among many others. Bradley has been associated with Theater Mu since 2006, including directing “Hells Canyon” at the theater earlier this year.

Bradley will produce Theater Mu’s forthcoming season as well as oversee the theater’s outreach and community programs.

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