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ABOUT sod house

Mission

Our mission is to bring professional theater experiences to greater Minnesota communities that will inspire people to value and embrace theater as part of a reflective and thoughtful life, and to engage local residents in presenting high-quality theater in their home communities. We choose works that are relevant to small-town communities and perform them in venues important to the community’s historical narrative. We believe that by producing high-quality, interactive theater and performing it, alongside local actors, in a significant historical site, we create transformative experiences for both performers and audiences.

History

In the summer of 2011, Lueverne Seifert and Darcey Engen headed a project bringing Anton Chekhov's classic "The Cherry Orchard" to the historic John Lind House in New Ulm, Minnesota, Seifert's home town. They assembled a group of six professional theater artists from the twin cities and preformed along side four New Ulm actors as well as a local five-piece polka band. They held nine performances in one week, all of which we sold out before opening day. It was a huge success and they were hooked.

In the summer of 2012, Seifert received a grant to expand the project and brought "The Cherry Orchard" to five historic homes in five small towns and cities of Minnesota, including Blue Earth, Kenyon, Little Falls, Taylors Falls and Worthington. Prior to the tour, Seifert and Engen visited each town and held workshops, helping to find the local actors and musicians that we worked with along the way.

Traveling with our group of seven professional theater artists they spent one week in each town, living, rehearsing and performing seven shows a week. Each week, as they traveled, the local cast and musicians changed. In every town they were able to directly involve six to 10 local actors and musicians in the staging and re-imagining of the play based on the needs and attributes of each of the beautiful homes that they performed in.

In the summer of 2013, they brought Durenmott’s "The Visit" to Albert Lea, Blue Earth and East Grand Forks, Minnesota. Each of these towns is home to a "little village", an assemblage of historical buildings used to teach and preserve the history of their towns beginnings. The performances took place in and around these villages.

Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard" was chosen because of the pertinence of it's story. A formerly well to-do family is in the process of losing their family home and cherry orchard, a scenario and predicament that many families and farms in Minnesota have had to face.

Durenmott’s "The Visit" is also a story that resonates with small town audiences. "The Visit" is a is a dark comedy that explores the values, choices and consequences of a small town struggling to survive as they are faced with the play’s prevailing question—How far will a town go to save itself?

How we work

  • We strive to provide provide high-quality arts experiences to Minnesotans across the state through workshops and performances.

  • We work with local community theater company's and historical societies to raise awareness of and appreciation for underutilized historical sites.

  • We hope to inspire greater Minnesota residents to value theater as a vehicle for individual and communal reflection.