This article by Brenda Harvieux originally appeared in the November/December 2018 issue of Northern Gardener.
When speaking to the artists at the Interact Center for the Visual and Performing Arts in St. Paul, it’s clear that they are dedicated their art and having the opportunity to create art has changed their lives profoundly.
A professional theater and studio for artists with disabilities, the center’s mission is to create art that challenges perceptions of disability. In 2017, the Interact Theater troupe performed Feast of Fools, a play centered on themes of historical famine and food justice. The center helped the actors prepare for their roles through growing food at Frogtown Farm and the Tatum Park community garden.
“We wanted the artists to have a tangible experience with food as they explored their roles,” says Scotty Reynolds, an actor and performing arts instructor at the Interact theater. The artists liked the hands-on element of learning to grow food, and some have applied their skills to other gardens.
The gardeners also grow a variety of plants from seeds in April and May and distribute them to the staff, artists and volunteers. “Our space is limited, but we have containers, which we’ve filled thanks to the donated plants from Minnesota Green,” Scotty says. Large pots and planters greet clients, artists and visitors to the center, and artists watch the flowers and vegetables grow through the season.
Interact’s diverse 40-member ensemble will perform in a new musical, Hot Funky Butt Jazz, through Nov. 18. The play tells stories of creativity, race, resilience and survival surrounding the politics and passions that birthed the original American musical form: Jazz.
Break a leg Interact actors!