Diversifying Minnesota’s Stages and Books

This week’s edition covers stories 
from July 13th to July 19th, 2023.

Today’s issue is 500 words, a 4-minute read.

Isabella and Helene talk the newest show at Minneapolis’s Open Eye Theater and a conversation with”Pelo Bueno” author Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro

Gaelynn Lea and Kevin Kling rehearsing “Invisible Fences” at the Open Eye Theater 📸 Kerem Yücel | MPR News 

Good morning, readers. Helene here! I’ve followed the work of the Open Eye theater for a while, but they are one of many community theaters around the Twin Cities. Open Eye is in South Minneapolis, just a stone’s throw away from the Mia. Their newest show, “Invisible Fences”, is the most recent project from Duluth songwriter Gaelynn Lea and Minnesota storyteller Kevin Kling. 

Gaelynn Lea is primarily a fiddler, and she first made a name for herself when she won the 2016 NPR Tiny Desk Concert. You can see the winning video she submitted here. Her winning song, “Someday We’ll Linger in The Sun” instantly reminded me of Joanna Newsom’s The Milk Eyed Mender. Both musicians sing with an almost childish lilt, capturing the elusive sound of curiosity and wonder in their songs! They’re beautiful to listen to, and I’m so glad to get a chance to see Gaelynn Lea close to home, albeit in a theatrical context. 

The two artists behind “Invisible Fences”, Gaelynn Lea and Kevin Kling, are both physically disabled, but the show itself isn’t directly about disability. “But I think both of the characters, you would identify them that way,” Lea said to MPR reporter Dan Kraker. The two main characters are a Largroff (Gaeylynn Lea), a platypus who was born with a mutation that caused her to sprout wings, horns, and a snout, and The Grasshopper (Kevin Kling) who lost two of his limbs as a nymph. From the Open Eye Theater website, “this unlikely pair embarks on a journey where they come face-to-face with different worlds, dangers and dreams. This musical play touches on identity, disability and the stories we tell ourselves.” Most of the shows have sold out for this exciting debut, but there are still tickets for Saturday, July 22nd at 2:00PM and Sunday, July 23rd at 7:00PM. Looking forward to seeing you there! That’s it from me this week, readers. Enjoy your Thursday. 

Untangled Roots, Embracing Identity:
A conversation with Afro-Latinx writer Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro

Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro at LatinoLEAD’s ‘AfroLatinidad’. Saturday, July 15th, 2023. 📸 LatinoLEAD

From an early age, Yolanda learned that “pelo bueno” (good hair) was straight hair. Since Kindergarten, every two months, Yolanda would sit at what seemed the finest seat in the house: a stack of boxes. She was too young, too short, to reach her bi-monthly stylist who was tasked with relaxing her hair. Yet, Yolanda remembers the chemicals they’d put on her scalp. 

It seemed that if her hair obeyed, the chemicals worked. 

When it didn’t, her skull would break into hives and burns. Her mother and grandma performed the same tasks, so they insisted that she went along. Growing up, Yolanda would tell herself that she had “pelo malo” (bad hair), a common term used in Puerto Rico, and other Latin American countries, to refer to her afro-texture and curly hair.

It wasn’t until her freshman year of college, when a professor stopped her mid sentence to tell her that she had mishandled her hair’s selfhood all along. Read the full story here.

That’s all for this Thursday, folks!

Come back next week for more NewPrensa. 

-Isabella and Helene

Hi, friend: Isabella and Helene here! 
We’re Communications Specialists by day
and playing Hacky Sack 
by night!  

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