A major new mural in the Twin Cities
by celebrated artist John Pugh
Theatre in the Round Players (TRP) commissioned John Pugh to create his unique public art murals as part of a three-year renovation of its century-old building.
Pugh has won international acclaim for his work in trompe-l’oeil, a style which uses realistic imagery, perspective, and other techniques to create a three-dimensional effect. He has created more than 250 murals throughout the world; this marks his first work in Minnesota.
After touring the theatre last fall, he developed concepts for the building’s three public-facing walls. The Board of Directors approved his designs and, in January, 2017, he began work on it in his California studio. By July, he and his assistants were onsite, gradually transforming the theatre’s south wall with the main mural. The 65’ x 37’ painting was completed in October.
THE GLOBE MURAL
In seeking a simple and iconic image to depict Theatre in the Round Players and its unique arena stage, Pugh imagined a show literally in-the-round — inside a globe.
Inside the globe, actors are performing scenes from different shows. In its foreground, two black-clad figures wearing headsets — representing the designers and technicians who help create every production — are pushing the globe forward. Another figure, alongside the globe, helps push as well, representing the hundreds of volunteers who — from audience services to administration — have kept shows rolling out for more than 65 years.
The figures themselves were chosen by Pugh from a wide variety of TRP show photos and based on models who posed in his California studio (the female technician in the foreground, however, is a self-portrait by one of his colleagues, an artist from Mexico).
Sauntering along the very top of the globe is Sammy, the theatre cat that was a favorite company member for more than ten years.
In a nod to TRP’s history as the oldest theatre in the city, the globe reflects the skyline of the West Bank neighborhood, its home since 1969 when the theatre moved from downtown Minneapolis.
THE RENOVATION PROJECT
The murals are part of a three-year renovation of the theatre’s exterior. In 2016, tuckpointing, replacement of its distinctive cornice, and other work was completed in the first major repair and maintenance of the exterior of the building, which dates from 1910. Work on the murals and other improvements began this summer; next year, Pugh returns to install a mural on the north wall with finishing touches on the other murals. Costs for the 3-year project are expected to total more than $425,000, which has been funded by individual contributions, a successful online Kickstarter campaign, theatre renovation funds set aside for more than ten years, and one grant of $7,500 from the City of Minneapolis for businesses along the Green Line light-rail to improve their facades.
COMPLETION OF THE PROJECT
Pugh returns to continue work next spring, when a dedication to celebrate the completion of the renovation project will be planned.
Theatre in the Round Players
Since it began in 1952, TRP has built a reputation for artistic excellence and service to the community. As a non-professional arts organization, hundreds of volunteers from throughout the area produce a wide variety of comedies, drama, and classics year-round, with alumni who include screen actors Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters) , Richard Dean Anderson (the original MacGuyver), Ron Perlman, and many others. Shows are performed in-the round, on a stage described by the Los Angeles Times as a “model arena theater (with a) playing area that relates to the audience more naturally than in many theaters…” A legacy theatre of Minnesota, Theatre in the Round Players continues its role in helping create – and maintain – the Twin Cities’ reputation for the arts and quality of life.
If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact Pat Moses, Graphics / Webmaster / Media Contact, at Pat@TheatreintheRound.org or 612-333-2919 ext. 104.