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About With the Future on the Line: Paddling Theater from Granite Falls to Yellow Medicine; Ashley Ha
18 May 2013
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About PlaceBase Productions

PlaceBase Productions works with local communities and commissioning partners to create

unforgettable works of theater performed in specific, local sites around Minnesota. Our work

begins with a place, its history, stories and physical environment, its significance to the local

community and its potential futures. From this place we develop an original text to bring these

elements into play. And from this text we build a work of theatre, collaborating with local actors,

musicians and artisans to allow this place to speak what it has to say. For each work the place is

transformed into a dynamic playing space. Audiences are invited to rediscover the beauty and

power of a place they may have known their entire life, and they are free to explore the new

theatrical environment in whatever way their imagination guides them. Each production presents,

free of charge, a multimedia work of the local collective memory.

Our goal is to foster creativity, a sense of wonder and, above all, a sense of place by teaching local

communities about their shared history and culture through theater, and helping to create in that

community, a deeper appreciation for the essential role of the arts in community life.

At the 2013 Rural Arts and Culture Summit, PlaceBase Productions shared their process while

highlighting the success of their recent project – Paddling Theater.

About With the Future on the Line: Paddling Theater from Granite Falls to Yellow Medicine:

On May 18th, 2013, as a part of the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Minnesota Waterways, and

in collaboration with the Clean Up the River Environment, The Minnesota DNR andWilderness

Inquiry, PlaceBase Productions staged a live-action radio drama on an 8-mile stretch of the

Minnesota River reaching from Granite Falls to the Upper Sioux Agency State Park in Western

Minnesota. From their canoes, the audience engaged in stories, songs and characters from local

river lore, presented both as live theatre and radio drama.

The audience joined the plot when river ruffians from Granite Falls rounded up a posse of

paddlers to help steal the county seat from Yellow Medicine City. Along the way they encountered

vibrant scenes of river life, including a famous old paddleboat with its saucy crew, two star-
crossed harvesters of river mussels, and a cantankerous pair of politicians from the rival town

of Minnesota Falls. Other famous river personalities on the river that day included Jacques the

Voyageur, Joseph Hennepin, and G.W. Featherstonehaugh. Audiences signed up to be a part of

this epic theatrical voyage on the Minnesota River by signing up for a spot in a Wilderness Inquiry

Canoe or by bringing their own canoe or kayak.

We began this project with a series of community workshops and interviews in Granite Falls in

March. After holding auditions in early April our rehearsals continued with over sixty people

involved from cities across Western Minnesota and an audience of over 200 from around the

region. The energy and excitement continue to build in the aftermath of this once-in-a-lifetime

event.

To view a short documentary on the project, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IjARAF3gyw

PlaceBase Productions Website: www.placebaseproductions.com

PlaceBase Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/placebaseproductions

Video from Granite Falls: A Meandering River Walk - https://vimeo.com/59175677

CNN Article: http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/02/opinion/greene-theater-on-river/index.html

Changemakers Blog: http://blog.designedgood.com/changemakers-september-2013/#AshleyHansonandAndrewGaylord

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