Bedlam Lowertown: Arrivals and Departures

Bedlam Theatre

Funding Received: 2013
St. Paul, MN
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
August 6, 2013


Harry Waters Jr. is a 59 year old African-American man, who’s dated both men and women throughout his life. His son Jordon, is 21 years old, identifies as straight and just graduated from Cal Arts in LA. The Waters’ have teamed up with local hip-hop artist Kevin “Kaoz” Moore and others to expand a performative conversation they’ve been having for several years about sex, sexual identity, masculinity, fatherhood and family.

In between construction at Bedlam Lowertown, the AKA Fathers/Sons ensemble have been meeting to deepen their exploration and expand their questions. This summer they’re taking their rough-draft performance to numerous community groups throughout the Twin Cities, gathering feedback and stories from other fathers’ and sons’ along the way. It’s an inspiring project; we’re blessed to have Harry and the ensemble, with their personal stories, adding further depth to the conversation of what it means to be black and male in America in 2013.

Recent Wins

Summertime has been good to Lowertown. Outdoor music in Mears Park every Thursday night and Mayor Chris Coleman joined the owners of the Saint Paul Saints baseball team in making a new stadium. Several buildings, including Bedlam Lowertown, are being converted to “District Energy,” a central, downtown heating and cooling system. And the massive project on the new Light Rail transit line is nearing completion. All three construction projects should pay great dividends for years to come!

A new coalition called “Lowertown Local”, registered for fiscal agency through Springboard for the Arts and submitted a grant to further work to build cohesiveness. The group has been meeting for several months to discuss needs, assets and to form alliances. In July we will see the groups second “Pitch-It” Happy Hour, an open mic to update one another on projects, ambitions, and ideas. Hosted by neighborhood hip hop artist Desdamona.

Bedlam and Live Action Set began workshops to create “The Big Lowdown”, a roving Lowertown adventure, featuring new, short works by a dozen interactive ensembles drawn from numerous St. Paul neighborhoods. The project received both state support through the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and national support through the Network of Ensemble Theaters new Net/Ten award for cross-company ensemble collaboration.


“The Big Lowdown” is an experiment to not only create new work and explore the neighborhood in a new way, but also to bring together new collaborators, the majority working with one another for the first time. So many unknowns can tend to foster confusion to say the least. Even while the creative process is wide open, we find it important to anchor the project by emphasizing the knowns, no matter how mundane(where to park, what bus to take, a reminder of meeting time, place, if there will be snacks). It also takes patience to remember that the simple chance for everyone to meet and mingle is both essential and time consuming. Project leaders are focusing on one-on-ones as well as group sessions.