In its latest show, a long-running theater troupe at Pillsbury House + Theatre in South Minneapolis called Breaking Ice
is tackling big questions about community development in the area.
The show, which runs through February 26, responds to comments that come up in all types of community forums, online and in person, according to Alan Berks, a spokesperson for the theater company.
Through its performance and a facilitated conversation that follows, Breaking Ice explores questions relating to a major question: “How can neighborhoods evolve in economically stable and sustainable ways?” according to event materials.
This show is part of the Arts on Chicago placemaking initiative, which includes 20 art happenings. Pillsbury House + Theatre is leading the charge with the help of a number of community partners. (See The Line
story about the project here
Often, the improvisational-style troupe performs for companies that are having difficulties in the workplace with communication--difficulties that frequently are rooted in cultural conflicts.
“What we get from it is a multifaceted perspective on the issue, with lots of people’s points of view,” Berks says, adding, “It starts to create a more direct conversation about the issues.”
Basically, it breaks the ice on these tough topics, hence the group’s name, he says.
The show delves into thorny questions related to community development, gentrification, and the displacement of longtime residents, questions that touch on race, economics, and culture. “There’s some tension among different sectors of the neighborhood," he says.
The company addresses these issues in a personal way, “from the perspective of people in the neighborhood,” he says, adding, “It’s about showing the human effects, what people are experiencing.”
The idea is to “create more conversations among communities in the neighborhood.”
At different times in history, the neighborhood has seen a large concentration of Scandinavians, African Americans, and Latinos. Historically, a lot of people have moved through, Berks says, adding, “It’s one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the state.”
Despite the culture shock that often entails, the neighborhood seems to “have a lot of ability to embrace differences,” he says, adding, “I think a high concentration of artists helps.” Artists are social connectors who help bridge the gap, he says.
Source: Alan Berks, spokesperson, Pillsbury House Theatre
Writer: Anna Pratt