I'm starting to seem like one of the awesome Minnesota Theater Bloggers with my frequency of theater blogs (yeah, I only wish!), but I can't stop thinking about Refugia at the Guthrie last night. Thanks to my years at Jeune Lune I've known Dominique Serrand for over half my life, and it was clear to me last night that this was the play that he has wanted to create for at least that long a time. I'm stopping just short of calling it his magnum opus (because I hope there's a lot of great work left of his to see), and I don't want to take away from the other great work he's directed and co-created over the years, but this is the most significant and complete piece he's directed.
I need to start by saying that the Guthrie was the most lively and intense I had ever seen it last night. With three stages active (Refugia on the proscenium, The Bluest Eye in the thrust, and Mu's Charlie Chan in the Dowling studio, plus some prom photos being taken), the lobby was filled with excited, curious people of all ages and genders and colors and interests. I know that's been a goal of the Guthrie for a long time, but it was the first time I had really felt it, and it set the perfect tone for the evening — well, that and the beautiful grey mist over the river, that "endless bridge" still has one of the best views in town.
Refugia itself a multi-layered piece whose images flash by me every time I close my eyes, that sucked me in immediately and did not let me go until I was in full-blown tears by the end. Tales by Steve Epp, that take you on a journey that only he can do, where you follow along breathlessly and don't even realize how far you have come. Intense, poignant imagery made all the stronger by flashes of knee-slapping humor. Multi-dimensional stories that don't seem to relate at all, but you know they will, and you are not disappointed even while you are surprised. Incredible performances by people you expect — hat tip to Nathan and Christina — and by a cast of performers mainly new to the Guthrie whose performances are outstanding, including an outstanding young lady (I only wish I had seen Maia Hernandez's take on it). I would say more, I'm aching to discuss every detail, but I want YOU to see it and discuss it with me, and I don't want to pre-dispose you to a single minute of it.
We walked out through the fog to our car and I was at a loss for words at this beautiful, poignant exploration of being "the other" — while at the same time being a kind of love letter to humanity.
They have it all wrong, you know, those who fear immigrants coming to their countries. For some reason — maybe their own selfishness — they assume that people come here to take. But people come to America, and to other countries all over the world, mainly to give of themselves. Refugia is just one of those gifts, and all I could manage to say to Dominique as I left was "thank you."