Weekend picks: Penumbra Theatre’s incubator premieres ‘Spittin’ Seeds,’ highlighting St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood

16 June 2022

Whether you’re looking to soak in all this beautiful summer weather or catch a break from the heat with indoor shows in air-conditioned venues, there’s just about something for every taste this week. If you don’t already have Juneteenth plans, you’ll note two options below, as well as an early solstice pick. This weekend also concludes the fabulous Liquid Music season at the Parkway Theater, with a performance by Twin Cities-based violinist and composer Ariana Kim. Also listed here to entice you is stand-up comedian Hari Kondabolu, of Comedy Central and NPR fame, the AFROPUNK Live: Minneapolis festival, and a new project presented by Penumbra.

The Ashe Lab Festival: ‘Spittin’ Seeds’

This week is the world premiere of “Spittin’ Seeds,” an output of Penumbra Theatre’s incubator program called the Ashe Lab. Directed by Sarah Bellamy and curated by company member Harrison David Rivers, the show features the talents of Ashe Lab fellows Erin Sharkey, Queen Drea and Orlando Hunter and Ricarrdo Valentine of Brother(Hood) Dance. The work aims a spotlight on the Rondo neighborhood, through movement, sound and an Afrofuturist bent. Opens 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 16, and runs through June 26 at Penumbra ($40, $15 students). More information here.

Photo by Erica Lyn
Ariana Kim

Ariana Kim: ‘Plucked’

Liquid Music wraps up its salon series with a performance by violinist and composer Ariana Kim. Kim debuted with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra at 16 years old, and her resume includes acting as concertmaster of the Louisiana Philharmonic, a Grammy for her work with the Aizuri Quartet, and long tenures with the Chamber Music Society ofMinnesota and the musical collective The Knights, all on top of being a tenured professor at Cornell University. The program highlights the talents of the Asian American Pacific Islander community. The program features a piece by Kim for the violin and a gayageum (a Korean flat-bodied string instrument), and “Still Life Crumbles for
violin and harpsichord by Tonia Ko, based on Amy Lowell’s 1915 poem, “Aliens.” The poem includes the line: “And while I laugh/ My spirit crumbles at their teasing touch.”

There’s also a piece for violin, video, and electronics by Thai deconstructionist composer Piyawat Louilarpprasert, a poem by Kimiko Hahn, and a violin and piano piece called “The Fairy and The Woodcutter” by Soomin Kim. Also on the program is the second movement of Steve Heitzeg’s ““Green Hope After Black Rain,” called “Wind of No Return,” dedicated to atomic bomb survivors. 8 p.m. Friday, June 17, at the Parkway Theater ($25 to $50). More information here.

Photo by Rob Holysz
Hari Kondabolu

Hari Kondabolu (Comedy Central, NPR)

Indian-American comic Hari Kondabolu takes his edgy humor about race, inequity and stereotypes to the Cedar Cultural Center on Saturday. Kondabolu is a regular on NPR’s “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” and has performed on many of the major late-night talk shows, including Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and The Late Show with David Letterman, as well as Comedy Central. Smart, self-deprecating and sly, Kondabolu’s humor catches you off guard with its relaxed delivery and biting satire. 8 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at the Cedar Cultural Center ($25). More information here.

Photo by Ryan Purcell

AFROPUNK Live: Minneapolis

You don’t have to fly to Brooklyn to get a taste of the Afropunk festival, as Afropunk Live hits Minneapolis this week. Partnering with the High School for Recording High School in St. Paul (aka Hip Hop High), the festival will feature up and coming musicians from the Twin Cities on panels and special showcases. Among the main acts performing are R&B singer Ari Lennox, rapper and producer Noname, and Mereba, whose styles mixes R&B, folk and hip-hop. Also performing will be DJ and record producer Sango, as well as artists Dreamer Isioma and Pink Siifu. While you’re there for the music, you can also check out the Spinthrift Market, featuring local makers and curators, and taste samples from Midwestern chefs and food trucks at AFROPUNK’s Bites ’n Beats. Throughout the festival there will also be live mural painting, early-morning yoga sessions, art galleries and film screenings. Saturday, June 18, and Sunday, June 19, at Sheridan Memorial Park ($70 weekend pass). More information here.

Midsommar celebration

The American Swedish Institute gets a head start on solstice celebrations this year with its annual Midsommar party, complete with pole dancing (the Midsommar pole kind), a performance by Swedish folk quintet Jaerv, as well as additional music indoors and outside, a mini market, handcraft activities, Swedish treats from Fika and more. This year, you’ll need to pre-register. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at ASI ($15, $6 children 12 and under, free for members). More information here.

Juneteenth celebrations

Actor and singer T. Michael Rambo moonlights from his role in “Twelve Angry Men” at Theatre Latte Da with a special Juneteenth performance on Sunday. He’ll be performing alongside Twin Cities jazz scene staple Ginger Commodore, whose style blends gospel and jazz with classical training for an evening that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. It starts at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 19, at the Dakota ($15-25). More information here. Commodore also performs in another Juneteenth event, called “Juneteenth: A Day to Honor and Celebrate Liberation” at the outdoor The Belvedere at Crooners, performing with Cornbread Harris, Men of New Hope Group, Geoff Jones, Kevin Jackson, Lila Ammons and the William Duncan Group. That’s at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at Crooners (free). More information here.

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