September 25, 2012
For Immediate Release:
Poisoning Political Dialogue with Humor and Civility
The Theater of Public Policy sparks dangerously respectful conversations on a wide variety of issues using improv, comedy, and theater.
The final days of a national political campaign have the uniquely superb ability to compact and simplify virtually any complex issue into a single, context-less sound bite. Both sides work tirelessly to ensure citizens understand just how terrible their opponents would be if elected. Political ads selflessly drain any joy or substance from civic dialogue in order to make the decisions simple and disheartening.
Yet one Minneapolis-based theater company is working to upset the landscape of surface-level issue depictions and political shouting matches. The Theater of Public Policy (T2P2 for short) uses unscripted comedy theater to unpack and reimagine big issues and ideas. The show returns to HUGE Theater in Uptown, Minneapolis every Thursday this fall for a series of destructively civil conversations and performances on issues ranging from education models in Minnesota to invasive species, from local food systems to U.S./China relations.
Some fear their series of shows this fall may undermine the simple thumbs-up/thumbs-down, “us versus them” banter everyone expects during an election season. Worse yet, their use of comedy to bridge the ideological divides may leave attendees with a sense of mutual understanding and shared vision for real solutions.
“Each show opens with a conversation with a well-informed individual, speaking to a complex issue of broad importance,” said respect-zealot and T2P2 co-founder Tane Danger. “Our cast of improvisers listens to the conversation, and then bring the ideas and memes to life in real-time on stage, providing the audience a different way to think about an old debate.”
What Danger fails to mention is the tragically nuanced understanding of the issues many audience members report having following a T2P2 show. Or how the audience’s role in asking questions of the expert guest can actually make attendees part of a larger conversation. Or the potentially hazardous new ideas that are spurred by coming together and laughing together.
The Theater of Public Policy works in collaboration with InCommons and the Citizens League, two other Minnesota institutions who fail to see the risk of civic-minded citizens. This short video helps demonstrate the threat the Theater of Public Policy poses: http://vimeo.com/34009851
The Theater of Public Policy will be on stage each Thursday in October and November at HUGE Theater, 3037 Lyndale Ave South in Minneapolis. One special event on Thursday October 18th at Patrick’s Cabaret (3010 Minnehaha Avenue, Minneapolis) will put the audience at increased risk for an even deeper conversation on education in Minnesota.
All shows start at 7pm and are $5, except where noted. For more information about this civic travesty, visit www.T2P2.net or call 612-285-8143.
October 4 – The Fall of the Creative Class
- Frank Bures, Literary Editor, Thirty Two MagazineA decade after his seminal work, Rise of the Creative Class, cities across the country have adopted Richard Florida’s prescriptions for attracting and fostering communities working within the creative process.But do Florida’s ideas confuse correlation for causation? Can we really say that the creative class drives urban centers to new growth? Our guest Frank Bures isn’t so sure. We’ll talk cities and creative types on our season debut.
October 11—Science Debate!
- Shawn Otto, www.ScienceDebate.org
Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama will have three face-to-face presidential debates this fall: one on the domestic economy, one of foreign policy, and one town-hall style debate. Shawn Otto believes at least one of those debates should have been focused on national science policy.Presidents can shape the course of science research and even specific projects while in office. Do we know enough about where the candidates stand on questions of science? Is the country ready for a national dialogue on science policy?
October 18—Education in Minnesota (Free Show!)
Special Venue: Patrick’s Cabaret, 3010 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis
- Charlene Briner, Chief of Staff & Communications Director for the Minnesota Department of Education
For decades, Minnesota had a reputation for leading the country in public education. Yet recently, some long-term issues have come to a head. But many across the state are facing these challenges head-on with a diversity of approaches.During this special event, every audience member will have an opportunity to share their questions, concerns, hopes, and ideas for education in Minnesota with fellow attendees. Our guest, Charlene Briner will give us a rundown on what the Dayton administration is doing for kids in Minnesota, and answer audience questions. Then our improvisers will take all the ideas and bring them to life on stage.
October 25—Attack of the Asian Carp
- Jon Anfinson, National Parks Service, and Darrell Gerber, Clean Water ActionWe’ve all heard the horror stories or seen the YouTube videos; giant fish leap from otherwise placid waters to attack unsuspecting boaters. But other than a few bumps to the head, what danger do Asian Carp really pose to Minnesota’s waters? Is it even possible to halt their invasion? What secret weapons are scientists cooking up to combat these silvery villains?
November 1—New Models for Education (Free Show!)
- Sondra Samuels—CEO North Side Achievement ZoneThe North Side Achievement Zone has stood out as a model for other charter schools across the state and across the country. Their work has taken a traditionally challenging community from an education perspective and produced some remarkable outcomes. How is the NSAZ different? Does this prove any student can learn given the right situation? What can other schools learn from the NSAZ?
November 8—Sports Diplomacy
- Joan Brzezinski, Executive Director of the China Center and Confucius Institute, University of MinnesotaEvery two years the Olympics get people talking about how countries can put aside their political differences to compete in a series of contests and games. Yet that goodwill and cross-cultural understanding is rarely kept aflame following the closing ceremonies. Our guest for this show doesn’t believe it has to be this way.Joan Brzezinski argues that we can use sports to communicate cultural values, specifically between the U.S. and China. What do we learn about other nations through sports? Can we avoid World War III with a round of table tennis?
November 15-New Journalism
- David Brauer—Local Media Reporter, MinnPostFor more than a decade we’ve heard that newspapers are dying. Home delivery rates are down, ad revenue is down and in turn newsrooms are shrinking. Yet at the same time, more people than ever before are reading, listening to, or watching the news, and getting their information from a wider variety of sources.We’ll ask MinnPost’s David Brauer how the media is changing locally and nationally. Are we on the brink of a desolate, fact-less wasteland of mindless gossip and political chatter; the dawn of a new era of truly democratic journalistic enlightenment; or something in between?
November 29—Is Local Food Better?
- Jonathan Foley—Director of the Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota
Stop by any farmer’s market and you’re likely to hear someone say that when it comes to food, local is better. But is that always true? Are there times when it actually makes sense for the environment and the economy to produce something somewhere else? We’ll ask our guest, Jonathan Foley about that and a lot more for our final show of the season.