Kate Casanova’s Wild About Mushrooms

You know what rainy, dreary Autumn days make us think of? Mushrooms.

Which of course makes us immediately think of local visual artist and recent MNO feature Kate Casanova.

Casanova unearths unique intersections between art and the natural world in her installations. For her MNO segment, she was preparing for a show at the Katherine E Nash Gallery on the University of Minnesota campus which found her planting mushroom spores in the batting of chairs before reupholstering them and then letting nature take its course.

We reached out to Casanova to see if she could recommend something to do with mushrooms that might be a little easier for those of us with zero upholstery skill. She hooked us up with her favorite mushroom recipe, courtesy her friend Carol.

Wild Mushroom Lasagna

Olive oil
2 medium onions thinly sliced
28 oz dried mushrooms
¼ cup parsley chopped
¼ cup marsala wine
½ cup butter
½ cup flour
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 cup milk
1 cup broth
2-3 cups fontina cheese
Lasagna noodles
Mozzarella and parmesan for top

Heat pan, add onions and garlic, sauté. Add mushrooms, parsley, and thyme. Sauté. Stir in wine and simmer. Set aside. To make sauce, add butter, flour, and nutmeg in a saucepan. Stir in broth and milk. Cook until it thickens, add fontina cheese. In a pan layer noodles, mushroom mixture, and sauce. Repeat, end with sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes covered and then for 10 minutes uncovered, all at 375 degrees.

Casanova says, “There’s nothing better than a tasty fungus for dinner, and this savory dish will make excited for leftovers. Enjoy!”

The Lowertown Line Mad Lib

We’ve got plenty of photographic evidence that highlights the unforgettable studio event that was The Lowertown Line, presented by MN Original, hosted by Dessa and featuring Trampled By Turtles. But to really celebrate and memorialize the production of The Lowertown Line last week, we felt we needed some truly inspirational prose. And what better way to write a memorable ode than to crowd-source a good old-fashioned mad lib? So throughout the day of filming The Lowertown Line, we asked our Twitter followers to submit their favorite adjectives, verbs, nouns, and snarky salutations. The result was every bit as delightful, hilarious, and [adjective] as we could have hoped for. Check out our Lowertown Line Mad Lib below, and stay tuned to mnoriginal.org for more details on the broadcast of The Lowertown Line!

The Haunted Basement Returns To The Soap Factory For Its Sixth Terrifying Year

As October draws to a close, much of the Twin Cities is getting in the Halloween mood, and the local artist community is no exception. Nowhere is this more apparent than at The Soap Factory‘s Haunted Basement. More than an art installation however, The Haunted Basement is an interactive experience that’s designed and curated by artists. We spoke with The Soap Factory’s Program Manager, Lillian Egner, about the gory details of the sixth Haunted Basement.

MN Original: This year’s Haunted Basement is directed by theater director, Noah Bremer. How did that collaboration come about?

Lillian Egner: The Soap Factory restructured how The Haunted Basement project is organized for 2012 and moved from having a team of directors to one overall director. We interviewed many incredible candidates but Noah Bremer was the best fit for The Haunted Basement.

MNO: What has Noah’s vision and experience as a theater director brought to this year’s Haunted Basement that sets it apart from the previous five years?

LE: Noah’s experience with Live Action Set, Cirque du Soleil, and very physical styles of theater are a terrific match for the project. Noah has been working with our team of Haunted Basement artists since Spring of this year to cultivate their individual concepts. Each idea for an environment starts as a small kernel and builds as we flesh out the physical space, costuming, and action of the room. The Haunted Basement is about actors truly immersing themselves in their characters, so it’s much closer to improv than Theater. Having Noah involved in the creative direction of The Haunted Basement has helped the artists and actors develop fantastic environments.

Each year The Haunted Basement is completely redesigned and deals with new themes, characters and scares. Noah moved from the position of a Haunted Basement patron (he actually cried “uncle” back in 2007 during his first Haunted Basement visit) to Director. He brings a new perspective on audience engagement and immersive theater that keeps The Haunted Basement refreshed from year to year.

MNO: Scariest room in the Basement this year (without giving away any spoilers)?

LE: That’s a tough one! One of the scariest this year begins with patrons walking through a cattle chute to enter the environment. I can’t tell you what happens inside, but let’s just say that each patron is carefully examined for quality…

MNO: One of the most unique aspects of The Haunted Basement is the attention to sensory stimulation, and in particular smells, which are specially created by The St. Croix Sensory. What’s the worst smell in this year’s Haunted Basement?

LE: Baby Powder.

MNO: Complete this sentence: The Haunted Basement will be successful this year if you get ______ number of people to cry “uncle.”

LE: We’ve had about 20 “uncles” thus far but we don’t have a target number. In 2011 over 400 people “Uncled out” which is a bit disappointing to the artists. That is 400 people who don’t get to see their rooms or experience the action.

For a taste of The Soap Factory’s Haunted Basement, watch our video on the 2011 Haunted Basement:

Rush Tickets for The Lowertown Line

Still looking for a chance to see Trampled By Turtles and Dessa perform for The Lowertown Line? We’ve got a very limited number of rush tickets which will be available before we start filming on Wednesday! We’ll open up the rush line at 6:00 p.m. and the tickets will be given away by 7:00 p.m. We hope to see you in Lowertown on Wednesday night!

lowertown line rush

Open to legal residents of the United States and District of Columbia, who are 18 years or older as of 10/21/2012. Void where prohibited. Employees, directors and officers of Sponsor, and its parent company, affiliates, subsidiaries or any of their agents, advertising, promotional and other agencies, and their immediate families (parents, siblings, children and spouse) and persons living in the same household (whether related or not) are not eligible.

Prize/Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”): $5

Twin Cities Public Television, 172 East 4th Street, St. Paul, MN 55101.

No purchase is necessary to enter and a purchase will not improve chances of winning.

Thank you for your interest in this event.

The Lowertown Line: A New Music Pilot From tpt + MNO!

We’ve had such a blast working with all of the amazingly talented Twin Cities musicians that we’re piloting a new music series!

Hosted by the incomparable Dessa, The Lowertown Line will be produced at tpt in Lowertown, Saint Paul with a live studio audience. The pilot episode will feature Trampled By Turtles as well as a surprise musical guest and tapes before the end of October.

We’re giving away free tickets so be sure you and your friends follow MN Original on Facebook and Twitter to find out how you can be a part of this exclusive concert! Giveaway details will be posted soon!!


tpt’s Legacy Programming Wins Six Upper Midwest Emmys®

The Upper Midwest Chapter of the the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced 2012 winners on Saturday evening at the State Theatre in Minneapolis, and Twin Cities Public Television’s Minnesota Original programming received six Upper Midwest Emmy® Awards! We’re so appreciative of this honor from the Upper Midwest Regional Emmys® and to be recognized among such esteemed colleagues in the media. The MNO staff is particularly thankful for the incredible arts community in the Twin Cities, who permit us to share their talents, creative process and excellent work, with a statewide audience.

Most of all, we wish to thank the Minnesota State Legislature and the citizens of Minnesota for making MN Original possible with funding from the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund of the Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment.

Now, please scroll down to watch our Emmy® winning videos!

Magazine Program: Program – MN Original: Episode #319

Historic/Cultural/Nostalgic – Program and Writer – Program (Non-News): Lost Twin Cities III

Interstitial – Arts Scene: Minnesota (click on the link to watch the video)

Greek tragedies via a French rooster: an update from Tom Schroeder

Our profile of animator and filmmaker Tom Schroeder first aired on MN Original in November of 2011, and was filmed even earlier, during May of that year. We caught up Mr. Schroeder to learn more about his latest film and some of his other recent creative projects.

UPDATE: We just learned from Tom that Marcel, King of Tervuren was accepted into competition at the Sundance Film Festival!

An excerpt from Marcel, King of Tervuren, © Tom Schroeder.

MN Original: Your profile on MN Original first aired in November of 2011, and in it, you discuss starting a new film called Marcel, King of Tervuren, which you say is modeled after a Greek tragedy. Tell us more about the film.

Tom Schroeder: I finished Marcel this past August in a French and an English language version. The film evolved as a friend, Ann Berckmoes, who lives in Tervuren, Belgium on the outskirts of Brussels, began to tell us installments of the story of her rooster Marcel. My wife, Hilde, is Belgian and we tend to visit Belgium almost every year. As the story developed I began to think there might be a documentary-style animated film to be made from it and by the point that Marcel’s son, Max, blinds him in one eye it began to sound like Greek tragedy as enacted by roosters. (There’s nothing specific that the film is mimicking and the relationship to Greek tragedy is somewhat ironic.) When Ann visited St. Paul one spring I recorded her telling the story once in English and once in French, because she said she actually lived the story in French. I edited the story to a piece of music that I licensed for the film composed by Phil Kline and performed by the string quartet Ethel. And then I animated the film to the audio tracks. The music is meant to draw out the gravity of the situation and the animation was intended to contradict that gravity, but in the end the film turned out grimmer than I expected. So the comic element I thought would develop is subdued.

MNO: How did the act of drawing on an electronic tablet, as opposed to drawing on paper, alter your creative process in creating and writing Marcel? How has it helped your artistic development?

TS: The painterly look of Marcel is a result of working with the tablet. The look of the brush strokes and different rendering techniques are easier to audition digitally. You can test out movement with the rendering possibilities more quickly. Animating itself, which I’m still not entirely comfortable with, is initially less controlled. Once you start to adapt to not having pages to flip and having no graphite on your fingers, you realize that you are essentially drawing and testing simultaneously. You can play and watch your animation even as you’re drawing it, as opposed to having to scan a stack of paper, assemble it in another software and then watch it. The immediate feedback tends to make me work looser and take greater risks with the movement. Also, the transformations in the lines and character in Marcel are a direct result of working digitally. It’s a little soon to judge how it’s effecting my development, but I’ll know more after the next film.

MNO: In your profile, you mention that it typically takes you two years to finish a film. Marcel recently screened at The Walker Art Center, so did you find that using digital tools like a tablet allowed you to create a film more quickly? What are the pro’s and con’s to potentially having a faster timeline for your art?

TS: Yes, working with the tablet definitely speeds up the process of drawing a film like Marcel. It probably helped even more that I had some funding from the McKnight Foundation for the film which allowed me to hire two former MCAD students to work with me on the film. Having help with something as labor intensive as animation allows me to free up more energy for “directing” and storytelling. I really can’t imagine any cons right now to anything that helps me make films more quickly. Animation is so grueling to produce, especially for an independent with little resources, that the biggest danger in any film is losing focus or interest in the content.

MNO: What was your perception of the screening of Marcel at The Walker? How did it compare to previous screenings you’ve held?

TS: So far Marcel has screened locally at Paul Creager’s Square Lake Festival and at The Walker. The screening at The Walker came about opportunistically in that I was just testing a new projection format, DCP. Heidi Schuster at Splice Here kindly arranged with The Walker to project Marcel so that I could see how the new format looked. Sheryl Mousley saw the film the afternoon that I saw it and included it in a program. Because the program was only two nights later I didn’t have much time to publicize the event. The film did look beautiful on DCP and the new sound system in The Walker auditorium is great. A friend who showed up to the event gave me a useful tagline for the film too: “It has a happy ending in the middle and then it gets sad again, like life.” A local composer was also present and has contacted me about doing a collaborative project with a musical group called “Improvistra.”

MNO: What’s next for Marcel? Will you shop it around to festivals?

TS: I’ve just started sending Marcel to film festivals. I made the deadline for Sundance, which is one of the bigger venues for independent films in the U.S. My last two films Bike Race and The Yellow Bird played in competition at Sundance, so I hope I’m still in favor with the programmers there. The festivals that are most important for a film like Marcel are the large dedicated animation festivals: Annecy, Ottawa, Hiroshima, Anima Mundi, Melbourne and others. This is where most of the distribution business for a film like mine is done. I have a distributor in London, Shorts International, who handles many of my animated films. I’ve had my films in the past broadcast internationally on Canal Plus, SBS in Australia, CBC in Canada and Independent Lens on Public Television in the U.S. I imagine Marcel will have some interest in Europe. Oh, Marcel is also scheduled to play on MNTV locally on TPT.

MNO: What other projects are you currently working on?

TS: I always need a break after finishing an animated film, so that usually means a music project. The music project I’m working on now is also a live action experimental film called “Turboencabulator.” The turboencabulator is a fictitious machine concocted and described in fantastic techno-jargon by GE engineers in the late 1940’s (I think). I play with an improvisational group called Waschering Maschine which I imagine as a lost German rock/jazz/space band from 1972 [Editor’s note: Waschering Maschine makes a cameo appearance in Tom Schroeder’s profile on MN Original!]. We record jams once every other week, which I edit into more manageable lengths. When they’re really good we mine them for raw material and make a CD. Turboencabulator is a 42 minute prog-rock chamber music piece that I’ve composed after the fact through editing and over-dubbing. We’ve got some really good musicians who contributed including Pat O’Keefe on clarinet from Zeitgeist and Jacqueline Ultan on cello from many bands such as Jello Slave and Saltee. The music is just about done. Then over the next few months I’ll edit an impressionistic machine-themed video in synch to the music from footage that I’ve been shooting all summer. This whole process takes about 6 months, which by animation standards is a kind of immediate gratification. It takes 6 months to make a 42 minute piece as opposed to 18 months for a 6 minute piece. When Turboencabulator is done I’m going to start the next animated film “Isola del Giglio.” This will be an impressionistic film about an Italian island that I’ve visited twice. I’m making this film in collaboration with an animator who lives in Paris, Lisa Paclet, who spent her childhood Junes on the island with her family. We plan to make an animated “Les Vacances de M. Hulot” (Jacques Tati).

MNO: What other animators locally or nationally do you follow?

TS: Animation is a small subculture, so it tends to be very “international.” Some of my favorite animators are: Igor Kovalyov, a russian living in Los Angeles, Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby, who live and work together in Calgary and whose latest film is “Wild Life,” Rosto and Suzie Templton, who live together now in Amsterdam but don’t work together yet – her last film was a stop motion adaptation of “Peter and the Wolf,” and Jeremy Clapin, who lives in France and whose film “Skhizein” was one of my favorites of the last few years.

MNO: What’s the best local arts event you’ve attended in the past year?

TS: Michelle Kinney and Chris Cunningham host music salons at their house occasionally and one that I attended including Mississippi Peace, The Orange Mighty Trio, and some Tango music from Astor Piazzolla was one of the most memorable and (very) local events that comes to mind. Being a film fanatic as well I have to mention The Trylon in general and thank Barry Kryshka for picking up where the Oak Street Cinema left off.

Socaholix “Jump Jump Jump”

Soul calypso band Socaholix performs Jump Jump Jump in Studio A.

Wang Ping Finds Her Voice

Born in Shanghai, author Wang Ping received little formal education growing up. The schools were closed by the government and books were limited to those written by the Chairman of the Communist Party of China, Mao Zedong.

As a child, Ping recalls uncovering a crate of books hidden underneath a chicken coop that contained Chinese classics as well as Russian novels and poetry and even Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. These books became her textbooks. And once devoured, Ping traded these books in a sort of “underground book club.” In this way, she completed her elementary school and middle school education.

Ping ultimately received a BA in English Literature from Beijing University, and later a MA in English Literature as well as a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from New York University.

In this excerpt from our interview with Wang Ping, she discusses how the writing system – whether English or Chinese Symbols – changes the very work itself.

Watch our full profile of Wang Ping on Sunday, September 24 at 6 p.m. on tpt2 to learn more about her writings as well as her multi-media project Kinship of Rivers. We’ll also be releasing two additional videos of Ping reading her poems on our website after the broadcast.

Here, There, Everywhere: Twin Cities Scenics as Backdrops for MNO Music

Last Sunday, we aired a compilation of some of our favorite live music performances recorded on MN Original during our first three seasons. We’re proud of these performances not only because they highlight the incredible level of talent in the Twin Cities music scene, but also because it gave us the opportunity to pair that talent with some beautiful and iconic Twin Cities landscapes. Not surprisingly, filming on location brings about interesting quirks and challenges that set the experience apart from filming in the more controlled environment of the tpt studios. MN Original‘s Associate Producer, Kate McDonald, lends some insight on what it was like to produce three of the performances that aired during the music compilation:

Storyhill at the Wabasha Street Caves

As anyone who’s been to the Wabasha Street Caves just outside of downtown St. Paul (or any large cave) knows, it’s a dark, dank, and cold environment, and not necessarily suited for music performances. So it may not be surprising to hear that before the Wabasha Street Caves became the set for our Storyhill segment, they were used as a cheese curing factory, mushroom growing greenhouse, and a speakeasy during Prohibition. We even used some of the left-behind mushroom storage pallets as a surface to house our audio equipment during the shoot.

Monroe Crossing at the Bruentrup Heritage Farm

The Bruentrup Heritage Farm, managed by the Maplewood Historical Society, is one of the oldest historically preserved farms in MN, established in 1891. During the taping with Monroe Crossing, we enlisted farm volunteers (and even a member of the Maplewood Historical Society’s Board of Directors!) to provide us with props for the shoot, such as milk cans from the farm’s basement, and hay bales from the barn’s loft. TPT’s own Events Manager, Justin Madel, also came through with his extensive prop collection, including rugs, strings of lights, lanterns and even a birdcage which he donated to the shoot.

Heiruspecs on the Jonathan Paddleford Riverboat

Captain Gus Gaspardo made us feel more than welcome on the rooftop of his Paddleboat while filming Heiruspecs, although running audio off of the deck proved to be a bit more complicated than we had thought because of the noise of the Mississippi. We ended up filming the band with the boat docked, and then Captain Gus took us for a ride so we could get moving shots of the river, which were added to the segment in post-production. Each cameramen also had their own personal assistant on the shoot as well, whose sole job it was to make sure they didn’t take a unexpected dip in the Mississippi.

What Twin Cities locations do you think would be the perfect backdrop to an MN Original music performance? Send us your thoughts at mnoriginal@tpt.org!

Marion McClinton Directs “The Brothers Size” at the Guthrie

Stay tuned for an upcoming MN Original profile on Tony-nominated theater director Marion McClinton!

McClinton is currently directing the Pillsbury House + Theatre and the Mount Curve Company co-production of The Brothers Size, the second in Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Brother/Sister plays trilogy.

The play, which takes place in a fictional community in Southern Louisiana, explores African American male identity and brotherly love through the story of the Size brothers, Ogun (James A. Williams, who appeared on Twin Cities Public Television’s Almanac this past Friday) and Oshoosi (Gavin Lawrence). Check out this rehearsal footage and interview with Williams.

The Brothers Size runs September 7-29 at The Guthrie Theater’s Dowling Studio. For tickets, visit the Guthrie’s website or call 612-377-2224.

tpt’s Legacy Programming Receives Fourteen Upper Midwest Emmy® Nominations

The Upper Midwest Chapter of the the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced 2012 nominations yesterday evening, and Twin Cities Public Television programming funded by the State of Minnesota’s Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment received fourteen Upper Midwest Emmy nominations! We’re honored and flattered to see our programming listed among so many other quality programs and media outlets. The Upper Midwest Emmy awards are held on September 29th. In the meantime, scroll down to watch some of our Emmy-nominated videos.

Arts/Entertainment: Single Story – MN Original: Storyhill

Historic/Cultural/Nostalgic – Program and Writer – Program (Non-News): Lost Twin Cities III

Military: Single Story – MN Original: Minnesota History Center’s 1968 Exhibit

Magazine Program: Single Story – MN Original: Pamela Sukhum

Magazine Program: Program – MN Original: Episode #319

Interstitial – Arts Scene: Minnesota (click on the link to watch the video)