Anoka-Ramsey stages state premiere of magical realism show

Give director Blayn Lemke a theater piece some directors say is impossible to produce and Lemke accepts and overcomes the challenge with verve.

Anoka-Ramsey Community College theater department next week will present the Minnesota debut of “Las Hermanas Perdilla.”  Among cast members are: Emily Picardi (counterclockwise, lower left in green), Autumn Sisson (black shirt), Linda Marx (blue shirt), Diana Niblack (pink shirt), Anna Nordling (gray shirt), Ashley Milewski (blonde in back), Amanda Trandem (red shirt), Renee Chizek (brunette in back) and Melissa Olmsted (cream shirt). Kayla Asplund is not pictured. Photo submitted

Anoka-Ramsey Community College theater department next week will present the Minnesota debut of “Las Hermanas Perdilla.” Among cast members are: Emily Picardi (counterclockwise, lower left in green), Autumn Sisson (black shirt), Linda Marx (blue shirt), Diana Niblack (pink shirt), Anna Nordling (gray shirt), Ashley Milewski (blonde in back), Amanda Trandem (red shirt), Renee Chizek (brunette in back) and Melissa Olmsted (cream shirt). Kayla Asplund is not pictured. Photo submitted

Like a two act-play with 10 scene changes, flying pigeons that deliver messages of doom and the staging of a serious play with humorous undertones, for instance.

“Using ancient theatrical techniques like puppetry, song, movement and combining them with state of art projection and sound design has been a way that we have overcome some of the issues that make this play ‘impossible to produce,’” said Lemke about Anoka-Ramsey Community College’s upcoming production.

ARCC’s theater department presents Tony Meneses’ “Las Hermanas Padilla.” The college’s theater department is the first in Minnesota to produce “Las Hermanas” and only the third theater to tackle the project, according to Lemke.

The play was recognized in 2010 as best play by the American College Theater Festival held at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

The plot centers on 10 sisters-in-law, and how they cope and survive with their men going off to war. Names of the fallen are delivered by carrier pigeon.

In addition to the 10 sisters, five actors working as physical storytellers operate the puppets and perform acrobatic stunts.

The show, a story of hope, is written in magical realism style, derived from Latin American storytelling. The style uses magic as part of everyday life and enhances the importance of the everyday characters, according to Lemke.

“(This is) a not-to-be-missed theatrical opportunity,” Lemke says. “The show is a wonderful combination of imaginative storytelling and a beautiful touching tale of family.”

Lemke is thrilled to be directing this prize-winning piece, merging ancient and contemporary theater tactics.

“You will never see a play like this again. I assure you,” he says.

Anoka-Ramsey Community College Theatre Department presents “Las Hermanas Padilla,” April 19, 20, 25, 26 and 27, 7:30 p.m., in the Coon Rapids Campus Performing Arts Center, 11200 Mississippi Blvd. N.W. Tickets are $8 in advance at the college bookstore, online at webs.AnokaRamsey.edu/theatre or at door an hour before performances.

Elyse Kaner is at elyse.kaner@ecm-inc.com

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