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Visiting artist to work with Elders' Home staff, residents

January visiting artist to NY Mills Arts Retreat

Minneapolis choreographer Galen Treuer is co-artistic director of Live Action Set, an exciting young theater company in the process of creating a brand new production, "My Father's Bookshelf," slated for presentation at the Guthrie Theater in late June, 2009.

Treuer was awarded a prestigious Jerome-funded New York Mills Artist Retreat. While he is on retreat here, he will be able to focus on his original stage production, and continue with his research into Alzheimer's disease and neuroscience, which are components of this original production.

My Father's Bookshelf is an original, ensemble-created performance that will explore our community response to adult onset dementia, specifically Alzheimer's disease. It will contrast the scientific, the individual, and the family response to a disease that destroys an essential aspect of humans: the ability to share knowledge and connect.

In creating the show, Live Action Set is working with community collaborators. They have conducted extensive interviews, done site visits, and will be having collaborators attend rehearsals throughout the process to help them create an accurate picture of the disease.

For his community outreach in New York Mills, Treuer will be presenting a short lecture on Alzheimer's research to the staff and family members of residents at the Elders' Home in New York Mills. The lecture is slated for Tuesday, Jan. 20, at 1:30 p.m. and again at 2:40 p.m.

Treuer said he plans to start with a simple explanation of the brain and cognition. He will then delve into a more detailed description of the processes disrupted by Alzheimer's disease.

"While in New York Mills, I will spend my time writing the first draft of the neuroscience lecture," Treuer says. "I have collected a number of resources and will begin distilling this into something compelling, dynamic, and factually accurate."

The two weeks in New York Mills will also give Treuer an opportunity to reflect on the research he has been doing and help him plan for the next stages of the production - 'research on our feet,' script writing, production design (set, costumes, multi-media), and community collaborations.

"I'm really looking forward to time for focus away from the busy and distracting life I have in Minneapolis," comments Treuer. "I am interested in getting to know a few people in New York Mills, spending some time at local shops/restaurants/bars, skiing, watching the inauguration on the 20th, and reading as much as I can."

The New York Mills Arts Retreat is funded by the Jerome Foundation, which makes grants to support the creation and production of new artistic works by emerging artists living in Minnesota and New York City. For more information about the Arts Retreat, contact Heather Cassidy, or 218-385-3339.

Galen Treuer to hold clown workshop Monday in Mills

While in New York Mills, Galen Treuer will also be leading a clown workshop on Monday, Jan. 19, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon in the New York Mills School Commons. All students age 13 and older are welcome.

The class will cover the art of simple clown, following the European tradition. Participants will explore the state of the clown, play games, and participate in exercises that explore the combination of vulnerability, stupefaction, and the innocence essential to the clown.

Teens who like to play pranks, tell jokes, and act goofy for the purpose of entertaining themselves or others would be perfect candidates for the workshop. The workshop will also serve as a unique opportunity for anyone who wants to meet teens from other area schools.

The clown workshop is tied to Treuer's production work and Alzheimer's research because clown techniques will be used to develop the production. The main character, a man with Alzheimer's, will use some of the clown's skills to get the audience to love him and to charm the people around him. He will directly address the audience. There is an idea that he is/ was a performer and when he sees the audience he will break into a physical comedy/ clowning routine.

Treuer was first introduced to the world of clowning in 2004 when a co-artistic director of Live Action Set suggested that he take a clown workshop from Ricardo Puccetti (a Brazilian actor and clown).

"This was fascinating for me," Treuer says of the experience. "Since then, I have taken classes from a number of other teachers in the European tradition, including master clown Pierre Byland at his annual summer intensive in Switzerland."

Although Treuer mentions that he wouldn't actually call himself a "clown," he says he's developed the skills and tools of the clown to use in performance and social situations.

"I don't dress up and entertain at parties or circuses," he adds. "I do make jokes and point out the ridiculous or humorous in situations. It's always nice when people laugh and I'm able to raise doubt about their assumptions."