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Minnesota Portraits: A Conversation with Dominique Serrand

By TPT Originals

Artist, performer, director, Dominque Serrand discusses the origins and humble beginnings of the renowned company he helped to start, Theatre de la Jeune Lune. He also talks about the legalities of living and working in his adopted homeland of the Twin Cities, and the frustration and financial hardships endured by artists.

What happened next?

This interview with Dominique Serrand was originally broadcast in 1992. In the interview, Serrand expresses deep excitement and relief at the prospect of the theater company he co-founded, Theatre de la Jeune Lune, finally arriving at a permanent home. Up until that time, the theater operated in a nomadic state, splitting time between Paris and Minneapolis.

Co-founded in 1978 by Serrand and other graduates of the École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq school in Paris, Theatre de la Jeune Lune set up shop in a physical home - a former Allied Van Lines building in Minneapolis' Warehouse District - the same year as this interview.

Theatre de la Jeune Lune was known for embracing improvisation and for its highly-physical style. The very first show staged in its new location was also one of its most ambitious. Children of Paradise - Shooting a Dream won the American Theatre Critics Association award for best new play.

In the intervening years, Theatre de la Jeune Lune produced 60 shows ranging from original work to innovative interpretations of Shakespeare, Moliere and more. In 2005, the theater company earned a Regional Tony Award for outstanding regional theater.

Though receiving critical praise locally and around the world, the company found itself at a challenging crossroads in the mid-2000s. With debt mounting, the board of directors made Serrand the sole artistic director. For a company that had been founded on collaborative leadership - with all  five original members serving as co-artistic directors - Serrand said he only agreed because the situation was dire.

The frustration surrounding the state of arts funding that Serrand talks about in this interview continued. In the next few years, he found himself spending more time worrying about paying the bills than on crafting the company's art.

In 2008, the building was sold (it is now a wedding venue) and the theater company has since reformed as "an agile, nomadic, entrepreneurial theater" aptly named The Moving Company. Here, Serrand is once again the co-artistic director of an innovative company that pushes the boundaries of theater.

Listen to other episodes of Minnesota Portraits and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

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This story is made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the Friends of Minnesota Experience.

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