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Live From CHS Field...It's A World Premiere

Posted by Sarah , 09 March 2017 · 891 views

Live From CHS Field...It's A World Premiere In what may be the only time I’m ever in the men’s restroom at CHS Field, I took in the world premiere of “Safe at Home” last night, Mixed Blood Theatre’s new show about baseball, race and immigration. The story takes place prior to game seven of the World Series and centers on whether a Dominican pitcher scheduled to start the biggest game of his career will instead use the platform to protest the game and take a political stand. The show is divided up into nine “scenes” (or shall we call them “innings”) scattered throughout the ballpark, each with their own story to tell: in one, an Irish and Latino vendor argue about the profitability of selling beer versus churros; in another, the owner of the team (and newspaper publisher) discusses the merits of “responsible journalism” with the reporter ready to break the story prior to the game. As a baseball fan, I thought the scene between the umpire and the MLB executive was particularly well acted and fascinating as they discussed exactly how this would play out if it actually happened in a game.

The story is definitely topical and the issues resonate, especially with the choice of using a baseball game as the backdrop to the simmering issues presented as opposed to, say, a football game – after all, baseball is the national pastime with a deep history inextricably linked with our struggles as a nation. The show itself is a technical achievement – groups of 25 are guided to different areas in the ballpark by an usher to watch separate seven minute scenes that run like clockwork throughout the evening. (At the performance I attended, our usher shared that he has learned a lot about baseball in working on this play, saying, “I’ve learned that the ball is round.” I think he was kidding.) It also takes theatre fans outside their comfort zone as you’re standing up in sometimes cramped quarters while the drama takes place right in front of you. Attendees seemed unsure as to whether they were supposed to clap at the end of each scene so we did what Minnesotans do – we just stood there awkwardly until the usher directed us to the next scene.

I have enjoyed many Saints games at CHS Field (and if you haven’t been there yet you really should check them out this season) so I knew I would appreciate my surroundings. As the show serves as a veritable tour of the ballpark, I caught myself a couple of times paying more attention to that than watching the show – during the scene in the clubhouse, my eyes drifted to the “Hall of Saints” pictures located above the lockers. “Oh yeah, I remember Rey Ordonez played for the Saints,” I caught myself thinking, and then, “wait a minute, there’s a show going on here. Focus!” I give credit to the writers and director that they kept the drama flowing even as you’re being shepherded periodically throughout the ballpark onto the next scene.

The acting is strong throughout and that may be the one regret I had about the show – at the end of the 90 minute performance you’re ushered into the Saints dugout and back through the stands to leave the ballpark without the chance for the actors to take a bow and show your appreciation for their work. But this is a minor quibble, if you’re a baseball fan this is a fantastic opportunity to see an entertaining new show in a beautiful setting. The pre-show gathering spot is in the Securian Club (the enclosed and heated space along right field) and while you’re outside briefly to travel from scene to scene, they all take place indoors. The show only runs through Sunday, so for more information about performance times and tickets, visit Mixed Blood’s website.

  • Parker Hageman, TRex and Matt Johnson like this

Matt Johnson
Mar 09 2017 01:24 PM

This sounds like such a cool evening.