A fairy tale beginning
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The Moving Company, based in the Twin Cities, is devoted to creating new work for the stage. The University of Iowa’s Department of Theatre Arts, one of the oldest and most respected theater programs in the country, touts new work and collaboration as hallmarks of the department.
Makes perfect sense, then, that the two entities would get together to develop a new theatrical event, providing an artistic outlet and an educational opportunity on one stage.
The Moving Company is working with acting and design students from the university’s MFA theater arts program to develop its latest work, Out of the Pan Into the Fire, which begins its run Feb. 7 in the UI’s David Thayer Theatre. The show uses the world of fairy tales as its jumping-off point; Out of the Pan features elements such as outrageous physical imagery and movement, monstrous characters, and impossible narrative, combined with video design.
The subject matter, however, deals with things found in our modern world.
A University Theatres Mainstage production written by Steven Epp, Nathan Keepers, and Dominique Serrand; directed by Dominique Serrand
Performances will be held in the David Thayer Theatre at the following times:
8 p.m. Feb. 7-9 and Feb. 13-16
2 p.m. Feb. 10 and 17
Tickets for Out of the Pan Into the Fire are $17 ($12 for senior citizens, $10 for youth, and $5 for UI students with a valid UI student ID) and are available through the Hancher box office, www.hancher.uiowa.edu, 319-335-1160, or 800-426-2437.
“We use the construct of a fairy tale world to tell a contemporary story,” says Dominique Serrand, co-founder of the Moving Company and director for the upcoming performances. “For many people, the future seems doomed. People are without work, people are trying to figure out what tomorrow brings. These feelings are reaching a larger segment of the population. Our story documents poverty and loneliness, but it is not without hope—far from it, in fact.”
The Moving Company, a relatively young Minneapolis–based theater company, is co–led by Serrand and fellow artistic director Steven Epp and artistic associate Nathan Keepers. They formerly led Theatre de la Jeune Lune in Minneapolis, one of the most creative and innovative theaters in the United States. Bringing decades of broad theatrical experience together, their productions are extraordinarily inventive and theatrical.
University residencies are an important means of researching and developing new work for the Moving Company. Their production Come Hell and High Water was initially developed with MFA students at the University of California-Davis in 2010, and last season’s The War Within was first created with students at the University of Minnesota.
So while Serrand and his colleagues are able to fully evaluate their work through the talents and resources found within the UI Department of Theatre Arts, they provide the UI students with ample opportunity to see how a show is built and to stretch their creative bounds to prepare for the theater of tomorrow.
“I feel my role is to come in and question the system by which we build art,” Serrand says. “I try to invite the students to reflect, to work differently—look for tools within themselves they might not be using.
“We aim to infect the students with that thirst to look for something that is not that simple, while teaching them the technique of building a show.”
Out of the Pan Into the Fire will be produced professionally in the Twin Cities in May. Serrand says the product Iowa City audiences see in February won’t be vastly different from what Minnesota audiences will see in May.
“We will be able to see how close we are to the final work,” Serrand says. “We have this creative period to fully explore how to make the tricky parts work. This residency allows us as artists to develop our thoughts.”
The company’s residency at the UI came about through the Iowa Partnership in the Arts program. Established in 1992 to support the creation of major new works of theatrical art, the program is part of a long tradition of Iowa faculty and students collaborating with professional artists to develop new work.