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Bring Jeune Lune to the Bay

November 9, 2007

Whenever someone back home in England asks me to list my favorite theatre companies in the U.S. Theatre de la Jeune Lune is always at the top or close to the top of my list. I feel kind of guilty about mentioning the company, because it's not completely American at heart. It came together in 1978 as a collaboration between artists from Paris and the Twin Cities and the work continues to reflect more of a European tradition of clowning and post-modern physical theatre than anything intrinsically American.

I was troubled to read today about the company's financial woes in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Just two years after it won the regional Tony Award, Jeune Lune is downsizing its staff and output owing to a $1 million deficit.

The article suggests that The nearby behemoth Guthrie Theatre might be to blame, though this seems unlikely. "Jeune Lune's precarious position might seem like the fruition of predictions that the Guthrie Theater, which opened its three-stage, $125 million complex in June 2006, would become a Walmart-style category killer that sucked up resources and talent and put mid-sized and small companies out of business," reporter Rohan Preston writes. "They haven't taken our audience away, because there's not much overlap," said Jeune Lune company member Steve Epp in an interview last week. "But with its Wonder Bread shows, the Guthrie has dumbed down expectations, so people have less of an appetite for adventurous work."

Here's hoping the company's upcoming run of Figaro at Berkeley Rep from April 25 - June 8 next year will help balance the books. The Bay Area loves Jeune Lune. If Minneapolis turns its back on its best theater company, maybe we can persuade artistic director Dominique Serrand to move his company here.

In other news: I am skipping town for a week. Back to blogging on Tuesday November 21.

1 Comments:

  • I wanted to comment briefly on the article in the Star Tribune by Preston. I was a part of Jeune Lune's recent production "The Deception". Rohan Preston came in to observe one of our shows. In his article in the Star Tribune entitled, "Up against $1 million deficit, will Jeune Lune theater wane?", he credited Steven Epp as follows:

    "They haven't taken our audience away, because there's not much overlap," said Jeune Lune company member Steve Epp in an interview last week. "But with its Wonder Bread shows, the Guthrie has dumbed down expectations, so people have less of an appetite for adventurous work."

    Steve did not in fact give this comment, and was unhappy especially with the snide line about 'Wonder Bread shows." Both he and Dominique have a strong supportive relationship with Joe Dowling and were infuriated at this misquote which turned out to be descriptive of Preston's own opinions.

    I just thought you would like the extra bit of information regarding the relationship between the two theatres' leaders. They are not in competition and Jow Dowling donates a good amount of money to Jeune Lune every year. It is a shame that theatre in the twin cities struggles so much (even the Guthrie), and it is a shame that some critics feel the need to instigate competition.

    Keep up the good work!

    By Anonymous Kaila Frymire, At December 5, 2007 at 2:25 PM  

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