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NEWS: Illusion Theater Shakes the Inkwell

“Fresh ink is the opposite of stale ink” – an old printer’s proverb.

The Illusion Theater’s Fresh Ink Series has been going for a long time. How long? 33 years young, pivoting periodically to align itself with the needs of the time and the changing populations that it serves. After all, the population of downtown Minneapolis, where the theatre is based, grew 14.5% in 2018 alone – to say nothing of the many changes in the makeup of its citizenry.

It is a very different theatrical world today than greeted the Twin Cities at the dawn of 2020, and the latest iteration of the Fresh Ink Series – announced yesterday – reflects some of those changes. Entitled “In This Moment”, the current incarnation takes the form of three August events reflecting on the African American experience through the lens of African American artists. T Mychael Rambo, Carlyle Brown, Bonnie Morris, and Michael Robins are curating the series.

“This moment we’re in reminds us that we are called to do more than simply bear witness,” said T. Mychael Rambo, summarizing the series. “We are summoned to be forces of action creating, calculating and cultivating spaces where we can find peace, not that absence of tension kind of peace but that presence of justice kind of peace…a peace where our voices in song and in poetry, in photograph and in painting, in narrative and in nuance illuminate with authenticity, agency, and abundance what only art can excavate…hope.”

In keeping with current practices and safety guidelines, the entire series will be accessible only via livestreamed and archival video.

In This Moment

An open-ended dialogue about recent events in the Twin Cities and the Black Lives Matter movement, In This Moment foregrounds the voices of artists of color, who will present their thoughts directly: Aimee K. Bryant, Brittany Delaney, Kimberly Elise, Michael Keck,  Peter Macon, Katie  Robinson, Lester Purry  Regina Marie Williams, as well as host T Mychael Rambo.

Premieres August 6, livestream available through August 16.

Acting Black

Carlyle Black returns with his celebrated solo show Acting Black, which first appeared on the Illusion Theater’s stage in 2017. The show explores the evolution of the “Black” stage stereotype starting with its origins in 19th-century minstrel shows and the introduction of blackface, and continuing into the present day. 

Livestreamed performances with Q&A on August 13, 14, and 15.

Black Table Arts Serving Black Futures; Loving Black Artists

Hosted by Keno Evol of Black Table Arts, this event features work by Sarah Ogutu, Lester A. Batiste, Donte Collins, and Antonio Duke. A multidisciplinary examination of art and identity, the evening asks each artist to speak to art’s importance “as a site to return to and that can do for black people getting through this moment”. 

Premieres August 20, livestream available through August 30.

Amy Donahue