Alan M. Berks

Alan M. Berks is a Minneapolis-based writer whose plays have been seen in New York, Chicago, Phoenix, Indianapolis, San Francisco, and around the Twin Cities. He helped create Thirst Theater a while back. Now, he’s the co-founder of this here magazine. He’s also written Almost Exactly Like Us, How to Cheat, 3 Parts Dead, Goats, and more.

Articles by this author

Mid-career artists and the Right Here Showcase


A combination review and consideration of the mid-career artist in the Twin Cities ecosystem. Alternate opinions welcome.

Support a matching gift for better arts coverage


We've been challenged to invest in even better arts journalism. Your support until midnight is doubled.

Sneak a Peek at the new MinnesotaPlaylist


Check out this video preview of the new website. Learn more about the calendar and the talent books.

Do you value MNPlaylist?


Here's how you can help MinnesotaPlaylist get better (and get some stuff for yourself too).

The Art of Fringing


At the Fringe Festival, as in life, you can’t experience everything. Read this article to help build your plan of attack.

Learning to love arts criticism


Does a type of arts criticism exist that would please artists, audiences, and newspaper editors at the same time?

Markets making art ill

Management | Vision

You should blame mediocre theater on economics. But not for the reasons you think.

Once more unto the breach


The author thinks he has something new to say about making theater relevant--and it is not about technology.

Playwright thinking about actors


A playwright reflects on his love for actors and what makes the best ones so trustworthy with scripts.

Amateurs, academics, and money


In the first essay in a series, we take a look at how economics effects artistic output.

Suggestion box

Criticism | Innovation | Management

We're considering a major redesign of the website in the coming months. Now is your chance to send us your suggestions.

Civilization and its playwrights


A rash of contemporary plays argue that you should throw off the chains of civilization and embrace your inner savage.

The best is yet to come

Audience | Criticism | Vision

Challenging is a criteria for excellence that Minnesota may experience more in the year to come.

Tom Poole Remembered


Local theatermaker Tom Poole passed away on Wednesday, July 6. Alan Berks remembers a writer and a person who inspired him to be smarter, funnier, and better.

Summer activism

Social Service

We're taking a little break from the magazine to rest up for the Fringe Festival in August. Inside this article are a few thoughts about art and politics.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Another look

First, what hasn't changed: You can still find 40-70 classifieds on this site every day in the same easy location and post your own. . .

What I learned from Bab's Casting

Management | Training

What does a performing artist need to know about the casting process for commercial work? What has changed or not changed in the last 21 years?

Love at first sight


Over the course of eleven days of performance, I lose all critical perspective. The object of my idealistic love is a big, messy, erratic, many-headed monster.

Pay my rent

Management | Vision

It's never going to work as long as landlords get more grant money than artists.

Meet the neighbors, Part 3

Greater Minnesota

Creative people will be creative. Give people time for the unfamiliar to become familiar. Musicals subsidize, and other lessons from the road in Minnesota.

Meet the neighbors, Part 2

Greater Minnesota

On a road trip around Greater Minnesota, Alan Berks visits 9 representative organizations, from community theater to university theater to barn-based theater.

Meet the neighbors

Greater Minnesota

Get a video introduction to some of the theater makers who make Greater Minnesota safe for the performing arts. Part 1 of 3.

Why I am a playwright


What possible reason can an otherwise rational person have for devoting themselves to writing new plays? Hint: It’s not the abundance of money and respect.

No one asked me but …


A completely biased, utterly subjective, unapologetically redundant, totally unsolicited list of demands about your next season.

Review this


How should a critic pick what shows to review? The Star Tribune's Graydon Royce sends us an honest question. How would you respond?

The follow-up

Criticism | Management

Some journalists will tell you that they haven't got time to answer their phones. Call them anyway.

The press release

Criticism | Management

Don't give reporters reason to curse you. Make sure your press release spreads word of your show, easy and smooth.

Have some respect, please


Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding is fine—I saw it once, and it was fine.

Who? Where? What?


We called around the state to find out where people are going, where they come from, and what they look like. An overview here.

A rehearsal proposal

Process | Vision

Specialization bad. Company good. An argument for a return to a kind of ensemble theater, regardless of the type of work you like to do.

The conventional unconventional

Process | Vision

If everyone's input is equally valuable, how many alternative theater artists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

The standard rehearsal

Process | Tradition

After thousands of years of performance, most rehearsals share a surprising amount of consistency. Why? Is this good or bad? (Part 1 of 3.)

Mirror nature, my ass


Why Hamlet is the perfect Baby Boomer.

Blog posts by this author

BLOG: We're alive!

Posted Dec. 29

News and notes |

This post may answer your questions about our recent, forced, two-week hiatus

BLOG: The New vs. Minnesota

Posted Oct. 23

News and notes |

A couple blog posts with theater advice about making it in New York provide unexpected insight into Minnesota.

BLOG: Reasons for optimism, part 1

Posted Jul. 7

News and notes |

There are about 120 theaters in the Twin Cities; outstate Minnesota has about 120 too. Good things will happen when we get all that energy allied.

BLOG: Lost narratives

Posted May. 26

After words |

All this talk about the television show "Lost" motivates me to consider some of my own recent reviews. In public. Have mercy on my soul.

BLOG: The greatest generation that ain't

Posted Mar. 17

After words |

It's dramatic and melodramatic. It's theatrical and cinematic. It's been praised to the heavens. But what is "August: Osage County" actually about?

BLOG: Actor Warren Bowles is recovering

Posted Sep. 19

News and notes |

Beloved Twin Cities actor Warren Bowles is conscious and recovering from Friday's cardiac arrest.

BLOG: Get discounts on IFP equipment

Posted Feb. 3

News and notes |

As part of our partnership this month, IFP Minnesota and are exchanging membership discounts. Read more about it.

BLOG: Make your auditions more color inclusive

Posted Nov. 3

Special focus | Process | Production

Read about the important new feature that MinnesotaPlaylist has added to our audition posts. Pass it on.

BLOG: Best new features

Posted Nov. 1

News and notes | Management

You wanted us to do more; we wanted to do more. How should you take advantage of it all?

BLOG: More praise for Minnesota art

Posted Sep. 1

News and notes |

NEA Director Rocco Landesman likes what he sees in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Compliments are nice, but I worry about self-satisfaction.

BLOG: Talk to the Theater Alliance

Posted Jun. 16

News and notes |

The Minnesota Theater Alliance is holding information and discussion sessions across Minnesota throughout June. Make your opinion known.

BLOG: Last night's forum on race and casting

Posted Apr. 6

News and notes |

Marianne Combs finds six lessons. Rohan reads entrails. Callboard discussion continues. Or you can just listen to the whole darn thing at tctheaterconnection.

BLOG: Play-by-Play Theater Bookstore is moving

Posted Feb. 21

News and notes |

Only three months after opening, Play-by-Play needs to move to a new space. Anyone want to help?

BLOG: Levi Weinhagen takes over as Guest Editor for May and June.

Posted May. 1

News and notes |

Find out who will be providing you with distracting reading material at work for the next two months.

BLOG: Writers wanted for MinnesotaPlaylist

Posted Jan. 5

News and notes |

We're looking for new writers to help us cover the performing arts community better. Got ideas? Read on.

BLOG: Correction: Fractured Atlas insurance info

Posted Oct. 23

News and notes |

So you can't exactly get health insurance through Fractured Atlas, but you can get help getting health insurance. Got it?

BLOG: What artists give

Posted Jul. 13

News and notes |

Rather than only tweet to this interesting article, I felt the urge to quote some cool paragraphs.

BLOG: Is compassion inherently theatrical?

Posted May. 30

After words |

Go see "Circle Mirror Transformation." Read the author's note in the program. If it surprises you, stop doing theater.

BLOG: Dear Mr. Governor:

Posted Mar. 20

Special focus |

Why does the Governor keep trying to kill the arts in Minnesota when the strong economic and community impact is so obvious?

BLOG: Post-Sage Awards thoughts

Posted Oct. 15

After words |

Everyone looked great. Honorees cried. Dancers danced. How do the Sage Awards compare to other awards shows?

BLOG: Relevance 'n' roll

Posted Feb. 7

After words |

I don't care whether or not "Rock 'n' Roll" was a great production of a great play. I want to talk about the ideas in it. Why does that seem so weird?

BLOG: Fringe Festival changes the rules

Posted Nov. 17

News and notes | Fringe

So while everyone else counted their money from Give to the Max Day, we read the new Fringe Festival application.

BLOG: Work more. Play better. Save money. Join up.

Posted Nov. 1

News and notes | Management

Logging-in does not make you a "member." So, what is a MinnesotaPlaylist Member and why do you want to be one?

BLOG: And the nominees are. . .

Posted Sep. 9

News and notes |

Minnesota's dance awards show, the Sage Awards, announces the nominees for the awards they will pass out next Tuesday.

BLOG: TCG report, part 1

Posted Jun. 21

Special focus |

Where I try to unpack my thoughts from a large conference, starting with feelings toward the host city, and including Tracy Letts name-dropping.

BLOG: is ice cream

Posted May. 5

News and notes |

Everyone wants a scoop. The website blows past 100,000 page views a month and continues growing faster than we can keep up. (By the way, help wanted!)

BLOG: When did "like theater" become an insult?

Posted Mar. 1

The vom |

"If our political process were actually like theater at all that would be an exceptionally good thing."

BLOG: Read Tom's writing

Posted Jun. 30

Special focus |

Like many others, I have been worrying a lot about our friend Tom Poole. I find reading the articles he wrote here to be medicinal and inspirational.

BLOG: A broken system: The national tour

Posted Jan. 14

News and notes |

The authors of a comprehensive study on the life of American playwrights come to Minneapolis for the local presentation of their depressing national tour.

BLOG: A toast

Posted Oct. 24

News and notes |

Join us for our anniversary party at Joe's Garage Monday from 5:30-8:30. Read this post to know why we're celebrating.

BLOG: Rocco is coming

Posted Aug. 17

News and notes |

The Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts is coming to town. His name is Rocco. Don't mess with a guy named Rocco.

BLOG: New Native Theatre is born

Posted May. 30

News and notes |

Surprisingly, Native American theater has not had a strong presence in Minnesota. Playwright and activist Rhianna Yazzie decides to fix that problem.

BLOG: The Minnesota Theater Alliance lives!

Posted Mar. 23

News and notes |

And Leah Cooper is its first Program Director! scoops it first because, well, you know why. And, if you don't, read this post.

BLOG: Preliminary Fringe Fest line-up set

Posted Feb. 19

News and notes |

They pulled the balls on Wednesday, in case you hadn't heard. We aggregate the news.

BLOG: Introducing MinnesotaPlaylist's guest editor, Bunny Sparber

Posted Nov. 28

News and notes |

Playwright and journalist Max Sparber takes the reins of as guest editor for the next 3 months.

BLOG: End of the year news (that we remember)

Posted Dec. 29

News and notes |

We couldn't retrieve the most recent news items we posted, but we've tried to squeeze the end of the year news we can remember into this one post. How'd we do?

BLOG: Sage awards wins

Posted Sep. 15

News and notes |

All my potential dates bailed on me, but the Sage Awards still made me feel less lonely.

BLOG: TCG report, part 2

Posted Jun. 28

Special focus |

In which I continue to unpack thoughts on a conference that ended more than a week ago. In praise of conflict and mutual incomprehensibility.

BLOG: Who's afraid of Edward Albee?

Posted May. 22

After words |

The Jungle Theater's production of ". . . Virginia Woolf" was amazing. Yet it also made me wonder whether the generation gap is more real than I thought.

BLOG: A flurry of news you should know

Posted Mar. 17

News and notes |

A rundown of recent big theater stories. We link to (and thank) the arts reporters around town who cover them and look forward to more detail.

BLOG: 3 news items you should know

Posted Sep. 8

News and notes | Social Service | Tradition | Vision

Phil Kilbourne benefit on Sept 12 at the Illusion; Park Square Theatre makes another bold move; and Broadway theater decides to adjust to an autistic audience.

BLOG: Newness, audience, and culture in the studio

Posted Jan. 20

After words |

Does Fringe Festival work translate for the Guthrie audience? Why is new work so much more exciting than well-done classics? How do we understand originality?

BLOG: What is #2amt

Posted Oct. 30

News and notes |

We're now feeding the hashtag #2amt on our homepage along with #mnpl. Why?

BLOG: What is this section?

Posted Nov. 1

After words | Criticism

Good theater is supposed to travel with the audience wherever they go afterward. Reviews don't cover that; we do.

BLOG: I want something more than money from Minneapolis

Posted Aug. 17

Special focus |

Surprisingly, the city of Minneapolis gives less to the arts than Wichita, Kansas(millions less), but something else bothers me more.

BLOG: Bob Malos is awesome

Posted Jun. 8

News and notes |

Springboard for the Arts bestows their first Osgood Do-good Award on local actor Bob Malos. You'll thank him too once you know why.

BLOG: Not to be missed: a forum on casting

Posted Mar. 30

News and notes |

In our calm, Minnesotan way, a controversy has been brewing over multicultural casting. Here are details on an important forum at CTC.

BLOG: You need to go to the capital on March 2

Posted Feb. 19

News and notes |

Artists are not politicians, but every year we need to trek down to the capital to remind politicians that artists are citizens.

BLOG: Introducing our new guest editor

Posted Feb. 27

News and notes |

Camille Lefevre takes the reins from Max Sparber (thanks, Max!) for the months of March and April.

In-depth posts by this author

  • Posted
    November 27, 2009 - 11:26am
    Half-formed thoughts that I don't yet know how to make into stories about making art work.
  • Posted
    November 1, 2009 - 10:15am
    Performing artists do complain too much, but that doesn't mean there isn't something really wrong with this system.
  • Posted
    November 18, 2009 - 10:56am
    Artists make their living outside the performing arts using performance skills while non-artists make a living inside the performing arts using business acumen.
  • Posted
    December 29, 2009 - 2:41pm
    People are more open to miracles during the holiday season. Good live performance can be a small miracle.
  • Posted
    December 13, 2009 - 3:39pm
    I really didn't like the Guthrie's <em>A Christmas Carol</em>, but that doesn't mean it isn't a wonderful family tradition.
  • Posted
    November 10, 2009 - 10:46am
    Actors Sally Wingert, Tracey Maloney, and Bethany Ford share their struggles to make ends meet. No matter your level of experience, you always feel insecure.
  • Posted
    November 18, 2009 - 11:40am
    Full-time salaried employment made Minnesota the theater community it is today. Tiny Lanesboro, MN continues that legacy.
  • Posted
    December 1, 2009 - 2:59pm
    What if the performing arts jumped on Arbor Day as comprehensively as we do Christmas?
  • Posted
    November 5, 2009 - 10:28am
    Americans spent $12.1 billion on performing arts admission in 2002 but 81% of Equity actors live on less than $25,000 a year.


Now playing

The Hothouse

The Hothouse

See it this week at Artspace Grain Belt Bottling House in Minneapolis. Presented by Dark & Stormy Productions.

Theater talk

Featured Artist

Victoria Pyan

Victoria Pyan

Victoria Pyan performs in Coast of Utopia Staged Reading playing at Phoenix Theater this month.

Find performers, designers, crew, writers, composers, choreographers, and administrators for your next project.

More talent profiles
Post your own