Art Hounds®

Art Hounds: Recommendation for Pride, a play about looking for romance

studio photo of 4 people
(From left to right) Alex Cavegn, Jack Oleg, George Kleven and Leo Rossmiller from the play "Only Ugly Guys."
Photo by Jacob Olson | Courtesy of Kurt Engh

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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Swipe right for this modern romance 

Minneapolis playwright Liqing Xu is looking forward to seeing the play “Only Ugly Guys” at Open Eye Theatre in Minneapolis. Written by local playwright Kurt Engh, the play coincides nicely with Twin Cities Pride this weekend. The show runs June 21 – 30 and is recommended for ages 17 and up. 

“I think so often a lot of queer media these days have to do with coming-out stories. But I think in Kurt's play ‘Only Ugly Guys,’ what’s really nice is that these characters are queer, but they’re just trying to look for love like everyone else in the world.  

“The play is about four queer men who are sort of entangled in these relationships with the with each other and are trying to find like love or romance or affection, but they’re doing it in all the wrong ways. And the play is sort of looking also at the way that technology nowadays allows us to find anything that we want, but we’re not really able to hold on to  important or genuine connections because there’s just so many options. 

“I think it’s an excellent choice for people who are celebrating Pride because it’s a really interesting, thought-provoking, raw, sexy play that will definitely get people talking and having conversations about intimacy and privilege.” 

  • Liqing Xu 

Say ‘Yes, and’ to improvised art films 

Comedian and improviser Jex Arzayus of St. Paul is a big fan of the improv group Babe Train, and they recommend checking out Babe Train Presents: B24 Improvised Films. The final shows are Friday June 21 and 28 at 7:30 at the HUGE Improv Theater’s’ relatively new location at 2728 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis  

“It’s a parody of the very artsy surreal films of A24 Production House. The audience gets to choose what they want, and what adventure they want. They’re gonna take a name of a movie and a word of inspiration, and then Babe Train — which is made up of Hannah, Laura, KQ, Nora and Shelby — they are going to play all of the characters, all of the scenes, and give you a narrative long-form improvised version. You can get horror; you could get a coming-of-age story; you can get a story about time travel! Every show is different.

“And then after the movie, they’re gonna have an actual art talkback where people can ask questions, just like if you were going to be in a film festival. There’s a different improv guest-interviewer each time.” 

  • Jex Arzayus 

Dance that honors our connection with water, performed along the Mississippi

Eileen Moeller, director of the Frozen River Film Festival in Winona, is looking forward to attending an outdoor dance collaboration by two dancers as part of the McKnight International Choreographer Residency. The performances were co-created by local artist Sharon Mansur and visiting choreographer Meryl Zaytoun Murman. The free performances take place Tuesday, June 25 and Wednesday, June 26 at sunset at the Prairie Island Campground, located along the banks of the Mississippi River near Winona.  

collage of women dancing
McKnight International Choreographer Meryl Zaytoun Murman will be part of the 2024 McKnight International Choreographer Residency.
Courtesy of Sharon Mansur

“I think there’s something really spectacular about seeing a performance that has to do with a specific piece of nature and being in the nature at the time. These performances are going to be especially related to the river: the way it is right now, and the way that the artists relate with water. Meryl is typically based in Greece, and so a lot of her relationship with water had to do with the Mediterranean. Whereas Sharon is here, and so a lot of that has to do with the Mississippi River.

Sharon is a very active community members. She’s a very talented dancer and interdisciplinary artist and we have worked together on film related projects. Sharon’s pieces always feel really relatable. A lot of Sharon’s work is really grounded in community and accessibility. These performances are free.” 

  • Eileen Moeller