Theatre Troupe visits Wanda Gag House

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Sandbox Theatre Troupe members visit the Wanda Gag House in New Ulm Sunday. The ensemble will present “In The Treetops,” an all-new play that explores the life and pioneering work of New Ulm-native, illustrator and author Wanda Gag. The play will be presented Oct. 6-8 and 11-15 at the Open Eye Figure Theater, 506 E. 24th St. in Minneapolis and at the German American Institute in St. Paul Oct. 28-29.

NEW ULM — An award-winning Twin Cities theatre troupe working on a play inspired by the life of Wanda Gag visited the Wanda Gag House Sunday.

Sandbox Theatre, named City Pages’ Best Theatre Troup 2017, is an experimental theater company based in Minneapolis. They will present “In The Treetops,” an all-new play created by the ensemble, Oct. 6-8 and 11-15 at the Open Eye Figure Theatre, 506 E. 24th St. in Minneapolis.

A celebration of Gag’s life, the built-from-scratch play for children and adults features music, puppetry, song and movement.

The idea of creating such a play began with Project Lead Megan Campbell Lagas, who while studying elementary education, was pleasantly surprised to learn that one of her favorite children’s authors, was a Minnesota native.

“I heard of (Gag’s book) ‘Millions of Cats.’ I researched her and found her to be really fascinating, an incredible, inspiring woman who led an amazing life on her own terms,” Lagas said. “I thought to myself, she’s someone we should lift up. Her story needs to be told and brought to the stage…I want to stimulate people’s minds and get them thinking anything is possible on this stage.”

Lagas sees parallels of Gag’s life and her own. A single mother at 23 who had to work very hard for a college education while on government assistance, Lagas shared Gag’s frustrations with what society sees as her place.

“How many people — smart, talented people — are told by the system that they are nothing but a burden?” Lagas said. “That the best they can offer to society is to surrender their dreams and get a minimum wage job. I wanted to show I was more than that.”

After the death of Wanda Gag’s father Anton, people in New Ulm pressured her to quit school and get to job to support her family. But following her father’s wishes, she persevered, attending several art schools, working on the side, later supporting her siblings with an artistic career.

For more information, visit http://www.sandboxtheatreonline.com/in-the-treetops-2017/

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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