Frankly Speaking: What’s Up With That?

Join us for a series of live online discussions between theatre artists about the critical issues facing the arts, culture, and society.

Part of Frank Theatre’s mission is to create work that “explores ideas and issues of social, political and/or cultural concern.” Although that mission cannot be accomplished on the stage during COVID, Frank Theatre believes in the importance of continuing to have conversations that question the world we live in. Taking the moniker from Frank’s regular newsletter, “FRANKLY SPEAKING: What’s Up With That?” invites the public to join in an exploration of the kinds of questions that drive and inform the work that Frank typically puts on stage. The public is invited to participate in a Q&A following the discussion on Facebook Live.

FRANKLY SPEAKING will be live monthly. Like Frank’s Facebook page and get notifications when we’re going live! FRANKLY SPEAKING episodes will be available after the live air date on Facebook Live, Vimeo, and the Frank Theatre website.

Please consider supporting this series by making a donation. Your contribution helps make these conversations possible!

Upcoming Episode

EPISODE EIGHT: Abuse of Power in the Theatre
Join uson Facebook Live for a conversation about how the abuse of power within the theatre affects the lives of the artists who make this theatre community thrive and what we as a community can do to be part of the needed change. With Molly Diers, Laura Stearns, Elena Giannetti, and Pogi Sumangil, and moderated by Wendy Knox.

Past Episodes

EPISODE ONE: Whiteness in Twin Cities Theatre
With Wendy Knox, Suzy Messerole, Joel Sass, and moderated by Maria Asp
Originally aired on Sept. 9, 2020 on Facebook Live

Local artistic directors discuss the topic of “whiteness” in the theatre, the harm caused by white supremacy in American theatre, and how white leaders of small theatre companies can shift the culture to center BIPOC artists. Joel Sass (Producing Artistic Director of Open Eye Theatre), Suzy Messerole (co-Artistic Director of Exposed Brick Theatre) and Wendy Knox (Artistic Director of Frank Theatre) are moderated by teaching artist and frequent Frank performer Maria Asp. This was intended to be a conversation among white panelists, asking them to address their roles in dismantling white supremacy in theatre, without asking BIPOC to do the work of explaining to/for us. Whiteness is an issue that white people must address and work to resolve without burdening BIPOC.

EPISODE TWO: But That Play is Set Over 100 Years Ago!
With Warren C. Bowles, Ivory Doublette and AJ Friday, and moderated by Signe Harriday
Originally aired on October 7, 2020 on Facebook Live

Performers who appeared in Frank’s recent production of THE CONVERT discuss their experience with the play, set in Zimbabwe under the colonialist government of 1896, and how this history resonates with them and informs their roles as contemporary artists in these current tumultuous times.

EPISODE THREE: Who’s In Your Audience?
With Nora Montanez Patterson, Pedro Bayon, and Theo Langason, and moderated by Sandy Agustin
Originally aired on November 11, 2020 on Facebook Live

BIPOC artists discuss their experiences creating work that is rooted in their community and their experience, as they perform for a largely white audience in the Twin Cities. The typical demographic of most Twin Cities theatre audiences is primarily white, even for theatres that are led by BIPOC artists. There are variances, of course, and theatres that are most deeply rooted in the community they represent show the most variety in their audience composition.

EPISODE FOUR: White Supremacy in Philanthropy
With Aamera Siddiqui, Valerie Oliveiro, and Walken Schweigert, and moderated by Maria Asp
Originally aired on December 9, 2020 on Facebook Live

Panelists discuss the history of white supremacy in philanthropy in this country and its impacts on BIPOC artists and organizations today. The story of philanthropy begins with wealth built through genocide, slavery, and stolen land. Philanthropy is one of the many arms that make up systemic racism, and therefore a very small percentage of foundation dollars are currently invested in communities of color.

EPISODE FIVE: The Impact of COVID-19 on Performers
With Joy Dolo Anfinson, Bradley Greenwald, and Eric Sharp, and moderated by Wendy Knox
Originally aired on January 13, 2021 on Facebook Live

As the pandemic drags on, we’re taking a look at the real-life implications of COVID-19 on the lives of performers in the Twin Cities. The performing arts are often an afterthought in conversations about economic relief, yet, nationally, the industry brings in $804.2 billion dollars (4.3% of the GDP), which is 60 billion more than construction and 227 billion more than transportation and warehousing. In an arts-rich state like Minnesota, the performing arts provide nearly 100,000 jobs and contribute 3.5% to the state’s economy. So what happens when the profession that you have trained for, worked hard at and achieved a degree of success in, is completely shut down by a virus? How are performers surviving?

EPISODE SIX: The Behind-the-Scenes Impact of COVID-19
With Sonya Berlovitz, Joe Stanley, Wu Chen Khoo and Merritt Rodriguez, and moderated by Wendy Knox
Originally aired on February 10, 2021 on Facebook Live

Professionals who have worked in nearly every theatre in town share how they are using the practical skills they typically use to make live theatre help them survive the impact of the pandemic, and hear how they have been affected and how they are surviving this challenging time for the arts.

EPISODE SEVEN: Are you ready to return to the theatre?
With Rachel Austin, Willie Johnson, & Florence Brammer, and moderated by Wendy Knox.
Originally aired on March 10, 2021 on Facebook Live

We’ve just marked a year since Frank produced its last show, THE CONVERT which played at Gremlin Theatre Feb 20-Mar 13, 2020. So now, this intermission from Frank has been a full year. As people are beginning to tentatively look with hope to the fall for the return of theatre, as possibly predicted by Dr. Fauci, we asked some avid theatre enthusiasts what it would take for them to feel comfortable returning to the theatre. What about you? Are you ready to walk into a theatre with a bunch of strangers and see a live show? What holds you back and what encourages you?