The Walker Art Center’s series, “Out There 19,” is a sampler of cutting-edge performance art from a group of international artists. The annual series has been running for 19 years.
First, Cynthia Hopkins, an author, composer, musician, and dramatist and her company, Accionosco, present an original theater/music piece, “Must Don’t Whip ‘Um.”
Country-ish, cabaret and soul tunes form the musical backdrop for this action adventure tale that portrays a partly truthful, partly improvised account of Swiss writer Isabelle Eberhardt’s life. It’s a prelude to Hopkins’ 2005 performance called “Accidental Nostalgia” wherein the artist took on Eberhardt’s persona.
“Must Don’t Whip ‘Um” trails a ’70s singer named Cameron Seymour who’s supposedly giving a “farewell concert” but turns up missing. Suspiciously, Cameron has plans to become a member of the Sufi brotherhood in Morocco, and the CIA is keeping close tabs on her every move. The real Eberhardt also eventually joined an Islamic Sufi brotherhood.
As an aside, video screens display a fake documentary about her in the background, featuring a concert from Hopkins and her band, Gloria Deluxe.
Second in the “Out There” lineup is a cheeky London duo, Gary Winters and Gregg Whelan, called Lone Twin, who cram their careers far into the offbeat show, “Nine Years.” The duo has appeared in all kinds of venues from the stage to the street. You’ll see footage of their journeys while you listen to their unique commentary about them.
In one of their most infamous stunts, they danced closely for 12 hours straight, clad in country western wear and blindfolded.
Young Jean Lee’s “Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven” confronts cultural identity through the eyes of a character called simply “Korean American.” In the festival’s last week, an emerging theater troupe called The Riot Group puts on “Pugilist Specialist” that creates a compelling narrative posing the question, what if a political assassination happened today?
Th-Sa, Jan. 4-27, call for performance times and special sessions with the artists. Walker Art Center, (William and Nadine McGuire Theater), 1750 Hennepin Ave. S. $20. 375-7600, www.walkerart.org/tickets.
British playwright Joe Orton’s black comedy, “Loot,” revolves around the mishaps of thieves Hal and Dennis. Having cleaned out a bank, they’re in for some trouble when they choose to stow the cash in a coffin at the neighboring funeral parlor where Dennis works.
The operation is a bit hairy, as it demands swapping out the body the coffin contains — which happens to be Hal’s mother. Hastily, they stuff her in the closet. Later, when the nurse discovers the body and realizes what’s going on, she wants to be a cohort, adding yet another wrinkle to an already twisted plot.
Soon thereafter, Hal and Dennis must elude Police Inspector Truscott who arrives on the scene pretending to be a water inspector. All in all, “Loot” is just one example of the kind of chaos that characterizes many of Orton’s works that ushers in laughs while also touching on serious themes about death, religion and morality.
F-Su, Jan. 5-28; F-Sa, 8 p.m.; Su, 2 p.m. Theatre in the Round, 245 Cedar Ave. $20. 333-3010, www.theatreintheround.org.
Anna Pratt can be reached at 436-4391or [email protected].