New show based on Wanda Gag playing in Minneapolis

Photo submitted “In the Treetops” explores Wanda Gag’s in a less literal way, through allegoric episodes. Pictured left to right: Ashawnti Ford, Theo Langason, Kristina Fjellman, Evelyn Digirolamo, Kalen Keir, and Megan Burns - Photo by Matthew Glover

MINNEAPOLIS — A new play is exploring the early life of one of New Ulm’s famous daughters: Wanda Gag.

“In the Treetops,” created by the Sanbox Theatre Ensemble is showing at the Open Eye Figure Theatre (506 E 24th St, Minneapolis) until Oct. 15. From Wednesday to Saturday the show opens at 7:30 p.m., Sunday’s performance is at 2 p.m.

Oct. 28 and 29 the show will be performed at the Germanic American Institute (GAI) (301 Summit Ave, St Paul). There is a 1 p.m. and a 7 p.m. show Saturday, Oct. 28, and one show Sunday, Oct. 29 at 1 p.m.

Tickets for the show cost $5 for kids 8 to 12-years-old, $10 for kids 13 to 18-years-old plus college students with a valid school ID and $15 for adults.

The show is inspired by Gag’s childhood in New Ulm, particularly her time trying to balance providing for her family versus pursuing her own passions.

“It is a joyful celebration of art and the creativity of the people who make it,” Project Lead Megan Lagas said.

The show is not a linear biopic about Gag’s life. Instead it follows an episodic structure, flitting between realistic drama and allegorical fairy tales, Lagas said.

For example the show opens with an explanation of Gag’s life in New Ulm at the time before it re-enacts that time in a fantastical manner, Lagas said.

While the set is minimal, the show does not lack in spectacle. One unique set piece is the stage floor, Lagas said.

Sandbox Theatre brought in an artist who painted wood grain onto the floor. It was inspired by a visit to the Gag House.

On one visit it struck troupe members that Anton Gag had painted the cheaper pine boards of the house to look like higher-quality wood.

They had that recreated onstage, but with the twist of bolder lines that characterized Wanda’s work, Lagas said.

The spectacle is the big difference between the shows at the Open Eye theater and the GAI, the latter lacks the capacity for the more complex elements.

The idea for the show started when Lagas learned about Gag while reading for her education degree.

“I started reading up on Wanda, and found this incredible, inspiring woman who led an amazing life on her own terms, and I thought to myself ‘she’s someone we should lift up. Her story needs to be told,'” Lagas said on the theater’s website.

She brought it to the director and the troupe began to collaboratively work on developing the show.

Tickets can be reserved at the theatre’s website Click on the hyperlinked ticket text under the show bill and follow the links.


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