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Review of Gertrude Stein and a Companion at The Jungle Theater in Minneapolis

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Quote of the Day:  from the play Gertrude Stein and a Companion by Win Wells:
Alice: I need to be dependented.
Gertrude: What was that word?
Alice: Dependented.
Gertrude: Where did you come up with that word?
Alice: I said it. Is it a good word?
Gertrude: It is a delicious word.

Gertrude Stein and a Companion (Claudia Wilkens and Barbara Kingsley) at The Jungle Theater, photo by Michal Daniel

Gertrude Stein and a Companion (Claudia Wilkens and Barbara Kingsley) at The Jungle Theater, photo by Michal Daniel

From the press release from The Jungle Theater (it really is the best description).

To celebrate 25 years of great theater, the Jungle remounts GERTRUDE STEIN AND A COMPANION, starring two of the Twin Cities most extraordinary actors, Claudia Wilkens and Barbara Kingsley. Directed by Bain Boehlke, this will be the Jungle’s eighth production of the imaginative play by Win Wells, opening the season on January 23. This rich and popular production will be on stage at the Jungle, 2951 Lyndale Av. S. in Minneapolis, through March 8, 2015. In Gertrude Stein and a Companion, Playwright Win Wells captures not only the veritable essence of this famous relationship, but also the magic years when a host of famous people including Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and Henri Matisse graced the writer’s salon. The compelling drama, spanning the decades between the early 1900s to the 1960s, poignantly portrays the genesis and development of Stein and Toklas’ 40-year bond.

Using text from Stein’s writings, letters and interviews, Wells is able to gradually reveal the inner workings of their relationship. The Jungle first staged Gertrude Stein and a Companion in 1992 at the “old” Lyndale Avenue theater. That production also starred Wilkens and Kingsley, who have been in all subsequent shows. A second staging was part of the Jungle’s 1994-95 season. The production went on to be presented at the Ordway’s McKnight Theater, at the Minneapolis Theater Garage and on tour in the Midwest and West Coast. It was last presented in 2001 at the current Jungle space. “This production is a perfect example of the Jungle’s repertory initiative. Many of the theater’s most celebrated productions – I Am My Own Wife, The Syringa Tree, Shirley Valentine, A Life in the Theater, The Gin Game – can be reprised time and again since the actors and designers all live in the Twin Cities,” says Boehlke. “I love it that a young woman in her 20s who saw the play in the early 90s can now see it again with her 20-year old daughter. It’s like sharing living memories.”

Gertrude Stein and a Companion at The Jungle Theater. Photo by Michal Daniel

Gertrude Stein and a Companion at The Jungle Theater. Photo by Michal Daniel

Indeed, watching a live production with someone is like “watching a living memory” and also making memories together. There is something about that shared experience that is unique to attending theatre. Go, with a companion. This play is for anyone who has ever longed for that one true companion who is always her champion. Alice loves Gertrude unconditionally. Even after her death, she is living out Gertrude’s legacy, making sure her works get published. “It’s easy,” she says, “You write the book. You get it published. You sell a few copies.” Those of us in the writing business know the truth of that. In fact, Gertrude says, “She didn’t know anything about publishing, but did it anyway.” With one of Gertrude’s many paintings from the greats like Picasso and Cezanne, tucked under her arm, she set out to make it happen. I couldn’t help but think about my own dear friend who wants nothing but the best for me, the one I could call at any time for a pep talk. I believe that is why Gertrude Stein and a Companion is so popular. They had the kind of relationship that we all long for, and watching them, we have hope that we can have that, too.

The creative team features Artistic Director Boehlke (director and set designer), Barry Browning (lighting designer), Amelia Cheever (costume designer), Bill Healey (lighting designer), Sean Healey (sound designer), John Novak (properties designer) and John Stillwell (technical director). Performances of Gertrude Stein and a Companion are Tuesdays ($25), Wednesdays ($33) and Thursdays ($38) at 7:30 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. ($43); Sundays at 2 p.m. ($38); and Sundays at 7:30 p.m. ($33). Senior, student and group discounts are also available, and rush tickets are available every night of the week 30 minutes prior to the performance for $10 off the regular price. Tickets are available at (612) 822-7063 or online at www.jungletheater.com.

One more note: The Jungle Theater is in a hip and happening part of Minneapolis. The theater itself is gorgeous, all decked out and ready to greet you. I went with a friend and we had a lovely time.

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt:  Do you have that one true companion? Who is it? Let her know. If not, keep searching, it can happen for you, too.

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