Bricklayers merge improv and masks in Don Juan in Vegas

Categories: Theater
DonJuan.jpg
Photo courtesy the Bricklayers
Kyle Cadotte and Matt Trucano.
For the past month, the Bricklayers have been experiencing the rock 'n' roll dream: living out of a van, performing in spaces around the region, waking up at crash pads near and far.

The Bricklayers aren't a band, however. Instead, the trio is touring a radical interpretation of a classic story in Don Juan in Vegas.

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The group -- Kyle Cadotte, Jonathan Greene, and Marc Trucano -- performed locally a few years ago with a mask-based interpretation of Mother Courage. This time out, it is Moliere. Or at least, pieces of Moliere.

"We've seen a real variety of audiences with this show. We've had poker dealers and bar crowds, Mennonites, high school students, and Native Americans. How will this show translate going to out of the way places?" Greene asks.

Local audiences will have a chance to see the work this weekend when the tour stops at Open Eye Figure Theatre. The performances are co-sponsored by Open Eye and Bedlam Theatre.

The piece uses a mixture of set script and improv. "At the beginning of the show, we ask questions to set the stage. At the end of the show, they get to choose the punishment for Don Juan. The audience has to stop the show," Cadotte says.

The creators have jettisoned quite a bit from the original work. "Moliere wrote it in two weeks. You can tear it apart for the problems in the play. What we found is that by turning him into a one-percenter, it is the audience who has the empowerment. We wanted to say, as the 99 percent, you have to act in a way that is more responsible to the rest of us," Trucano says. "So often we are voiceless. We want to say you can have a voice. You can stand up to this."

Part of the play's development has been merging different forms, such as improv and mask theater. "We looked at commedia, British pantomime, and the things like the melodramas in the Dakotas. The audience is always involved in punishing the bad guy. None of us related to the religious punishment in the play. It seemed like a cop out to us. We wanted to find a true modern punishment," Greene says.

After working on the show on their own, the Bricklayers brought in Barbra and Sonya Berlovitz to provide artistic help and costumes. That outside input was invaluable in honing the ideas that had been developed, says Cadotte.

"What's nice about the work is that the humor here is wild and zany. It's a great vehicle to open up the issues of the play: economic disparity and the haves and have-nots. We are using comedy to open up the conversation," Greene says.

The tour, which is about a third completed, has brought the trio into contact with a number of non-traditional audiences. "All of the communities we've visited so far have been warm and welcoming. It has been really amazing," Greene says. 


IF YOU GO:

Don Juan in Vegas
Friday-Monday
Open Eye Figure Theatre
506 E. 24th St., Minneapolis
$12-$15
For tickets and more information, call 612.874.6338 or visit online.

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Open Eye Figure Theatre

506 E. 24th St., Minneapolis, MN

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