Garage theater returns: Off-Leash Area of Minneapolis returns to Stillwater’s big pink garage

Submitted photo from Off-leash theater

For the third straight year Off-Leash Area of Minneapolis brings their neighborhood garage theater tour to Jon Skaalen’s big pink garage in Stillwater.

This year’s production is “The Picnic” and focuses on the relationship of a bird and a dog that grows over the four seasons. The hour-long show is family friendly and Off-Leash encourages everyone to attend. Off-Leash’s goal is making theater accessible to everyone.

“I love to see how the performances translate to everyone,” Skaalen said. “Last year there were kids there, grandparents, and young people as well as theater devotees and it was nice to hear how the art spoke to them. I think something like this really makes the theatrical experience universal.”

“People may ask how good of a performance can you get in a garage,” said Co-Director of Off-leash Paul Herwig. “We’re all professional performers with five to 30 years of experience and we have a lot of experience on stage. When we do the neighborhood garage tour we pull out all the stops. It’s like taking a small gem of theater and putting it in people’s living rooms.”

Another garage tour feature is the garage owner provides refreshments and opens their homes and backyards to the audience after the show so everyone can get together and audience members can talk to the actors one-on-one.

“That’s something that you don’t get to do at the Guthrie,” Skaalen said.

Skaalen said what people can expect from a performance is a way to open your imagination. There is a big movement-based piece to their performances and Herwig believes that the shows they have done are more creative and imaginative than shows in downtown Minneapolis due to the limited space they have in garages.

“I think it’s a way to open your imagination. To see an empty space in your basement, garage or yard and figure out a way to make this work. To see a group of performers take that space and create something so fascinating for an hour to give your imagination a vacation before you head back to school,” Skaalen said. “It’s a great spark for the end of summer and the beginning of the fall.”

The show takes place over Labor Day weekend Aug. 31 through Sept. 2. Friday and Saturday shows are 7 p.m. and Sunday’s show 2 p.m. The performance is at 1900 North Second St., one mile north of downtown where Willow Street meets Schulenberg Park. Parking is available on Second Street or along the park road and playground. An audio description is provided for the Saturday show for those who have vision loss.

There performances are free, but donations of $5 to $15 are welcome. Reservations are highly recommended because only 30 to 40 people can fit into the Skaalen’s garage. To make reservations call Off-leash area at 612-724-7372 or email [email protected]