Green Stages in the Twin Cities

Rob O’Brien
Object Magazine
The Twin Cities is overflowing with theater. Okay, St. Paul is lagging far behind with only a few companies. But Minneapolis’ theater cupboard is fully stocked.

Selecting a green list of theaters isn’t much of a chore because there are hundreds from which to choose. Theaters speak out and let the audience know what kinds of performance they will produce. The theaters named on this list either have social critique or community development as a central tenet of their mission.

Unfortunately, the art of theater has long suffered from its inability to compete with the larger-than-life big screen movie. For the past 50 years, theater’s audience has slowly drifted away due to the popular impression that theater consists of men in tights, mumbled Shakespearean quotes and traditional staging. But there are local movements that are actively experimenting and trying to revive performance art. These groups produce work that attempts to show people where they stand in the world in order to change their perspective on consumption, racism, sexism and other mainstream American issues. Although the Twin Cities has long lagged nationally in the production of such innovative, important theater, the organizations found on this list enthusiastically seek to create this kind of work.

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3 Legged Race

420 N 5th St, Suite 540, Ford Center, Minneapolis

Phone: 612-332-3200

Productions use movement and form to create innovative dance. Many of
its performances contain social critique of the world around us.

Acadia Cabaret Theater

1931 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis

Phone: 612-874-8702

Plays host to local drama and comedy on its small stage. The space
is a little cramped but offers local theater a stage on which to show
their work to the public.

Ballet of the Dolls

820 18th Ave., Minneapolis MN 55418

Phone: 612-623-7660


The most consistently challenging dance troupe in town, Ballet of
the Dolls works to take ballet out of its traditionally elitist format
and presents it to the people.

The Brave New Workshop

2605 Hennepin Ave S., Minneapolis

St. Paul Theater
Palace Theater
17, West 7th Place, Saint Paul

Phone: 612-332-6620

Brave New Workshop’s comedy flip-flops between social satire and simple
silliness. It also offers improv workshops for comedians looking to get
a foot in the door.

Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater

810 W. Lake St., Minneapolis

Phone: 612-825-8949


Bryant-Lake Bowl doesn’t house its own theater troupe, but hosts
plenty of smaller shows. The space offers a much a needed stage for
drama, experimental and comedic performances.

Ethnic Dance Theater

2337 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis

Phone: 612-870-8831


Ethnic Dance Theater attempts to create understanding and awareness
of other cultures through the production of traditional dance.

Eye of the Storm

3600 16th Ave. S., Minneapolis

Phone: 612-728-5859

One of the few theaters in town still producing gritty, occasionally
intense theater. Eye of the Storm bases a lot of its work in social

Fifty Foot Penguin Theater

2224 Emerson Ave. #3, Minneapolis

Phone: 612-381-1110


Fifty Foot Penguin Theater has produced some of the most dramatic
Twin Cities theater in the last few years. They’re also fans of absurd
comedy as social critique.

Frank Theatre

3156 23rd Ave. S., Minneapolis

Phone: 612-724-3760


Theatre may be one of the most socially conscious theaters in town. Recent seasons have included work by Brecht and Orwell.

Fringe Festival

Phone: 612-872-1212


Fringe Festival may not have much "fringe" left in it, but with a
120-production line-up, it offers an incredible opportunity for
grassroots performance.

Illusion Theater

Hennepin Center for the Arts

528 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis

Phone: 612-339-4944


In a city filled with theaters and theater groups, Illusion Theater
offers a chance for new playwrights to stage their work in addition to
housing productions of established work.

In The Heart of The Beast Puppet and Mask Theater

1500 East Lake St., Minneapolis

Phone: 612-721-2535

Best known for its participation in the Powderhorn neighborhood’s
May Day parade, In the Heart of the Beast also works its puppet mastery
into stage productions.

Mixed Blood Theater

1501 S. 4th St., Minneapolis

Phone: 612-338-0937


Based on the idea that roles shouldn’t be cast along traditional
"white character, white actor" lines, Mixed Blood pushes audiences to
consider issues of race, gender, and more.

Pangea World Theater

2509 Dupont Ave. #209, Minneapolis

Phone: 612-377-1728

Pangea’s dance-inspired theater turns traditional theater on its
head exploding the racial and societal issues from within the play

Patrick’s Cabaret

3010 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis

Phone: 612-721-3595


Even though Patrick has departed from the artistic director position
at this cabaret theater, the space still plays host to some of the Twin
Cities most experimental, dramatic and moving performances.

Penumbra Theater

270 N Kent St., St. Paul

Phone: 651-224-3180

Being the only professional African-American theater company in the
Twin Cities puts a lot of pressure on Penumbra. Fortunately, it’s up to
the task, delivering poetic performance and masterful staging.

Pillsbury House Theatre

3501 Chicago Ave. S., Minneapolis

Phone: 612-825-0459

Shows at Pillsbury House Theatre are deeply rooted in issues of
social justice and community. In addition to housing powerful
productions, the theater works with the community to produce works by
young, local playwrights.

The Playwright’s Center

2301 Franklin Ave. E., Minneapolis

Phone: 612-332-7481


Twin Cities would have maybe half the performance offerings if not
for the artistic guidance of the Playwright’s Center. They offer
classes, workshops and occasionally stage productions.

Praxis Group

Praxis Group explodes the traditions of classical theater. Their
productions turn established plays inside out, exposing the unspoken
societal programming that is at work within.

Red Eye Theater

15 W 14th St., Minneapolis

Phone: 612-870-0309


Although the Red Eye only hosts a few shows a year these days, it
hasn’t dulled down its taste for experimental and challenging

Southern Theater

1420 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis

Phone: 612-340-1725

The Southern is the premier location for local dance and theater,
including Theater Mu. And for those who haven’t experienced it, Leslie
Ball’s local cabaret, where local performers try out their work, is a
must see.

Stepping Stone Theater for Youth Development

314 Landmark Center
75 W 5th St., St. Paul

Phone: 651-225-9265

Stepping Stone’s mission centers around bringing kids into the fold
of theater and teaching them how to use performance to express thought
and emotion.

Teatro del Pueblo

209 W. Page St., St. Paul

Phone: 651-224-8806

Teatro del Pueblo draws its strength from the Latino community on
the West Side of St Paul. The company produces shows based on issues of
importance to both local and global Latino people.

Ten Thousand Things Theater

Phone: 612-724-4494

Ten Thousand Things tours most of its shows to non-traditional
theater audiences, bringing performance to prisons, homeless shelters
and more.

Theater Mu

711 W Lake St., Suite 212, Minneapolis

Phone: 612-824-4804

Theater Mu is the preeminent Asian-American theater troupe in town.
Their work focuses on the combination of Western and Eastern stage
direction and performance.

Theatre in the Round

245 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis

Phone: 612-333-2919

Theatre in the Round gets a lot of flak for its consistent decision
to generally produce comedy of manners plays, but it still remains the
best community theater in the Cities.

University Theatre

110 Rarig Center
330 21st Ave. S., Minneapolis

Phone: 612-625-4001


Rarig Center plays host to a few different student theater
companies. The most visible of these is U Theater, which incorporates
the University of Minnesota’s base of emerging playwrights, performers
and directors into professional productions.

Green Stages

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