Fortune's Fool Theatre was formed in fall 2005 to produce the world premiere of Daniel Pinkerton's award-winning play, Do You Want to Know a Secret? Daniel Pinkerton and director Leah Cooper coproduced. For a long time, we were the smallest theatre in the Twin Cities -- what we like to call a "microtheatre." Yes, Secret was a multimedia extravaganza about an East German family before and after the fall of the Berlin wall, but it was still an intimate production. However, despite excellent reviews and a good run at Intermedia Arts, we did not produce again until 2011.
Our second show, YARRRH! The Lusty, Busty Pirate Musical (another world premiere), was a tour de force for three actresses who played over 11 roles between them, and an accordionist who constituted the entire orchestra. This bawdy, subversive romp was one of the 2011 Minnesota Fringe Festival's biggest hits (9th in percentage of seats sold, out of 168 shows). We successfully remounted it at Open Eye Theatre in fall 2011. Ariel Pinkerton coproduced along with Daniel (and also played several onstage roles). At the end of the revival, Daniel invited Ariel to become co-producing artistic director.
The first project that Ariel initiated was our third show, Stop Kiss by Diana Son. Stop Kiss is an award-winning drama about the forging of love between two women so strong that it survives the horrific beating of one of them. We received glowing reviews and drew good crowds at Nimbus Theatre in 2014. We actually mounted a second production in the calendar year 2014—an anomaly for us! It was a bill of darkly comic one-acts, Harold Pinter's little-seen A Slight Ache and the world premiere of the late Michael Ooms's In the White Room. This spare production was performed in an intimate and nontraditional theatre setting.
In fall 2015, we presented the North American premiere of internationally renowned playwright Kira Obolensky's Why We Laugh: A Terezín Cabaret. It is a moving contemporary play based on a cabaret written by Jewish prisoners in the Terezin Ghetto during World War II. In 2016, we produced another world premiere as a part of the 2016 Minnesota Fringe Festival: Grand Theft Autobiography, co-artistic director Daniel Pinkerton's stories of his career as a juvenile delinquent, with songs by Gary Rue performed live by a rock trio. In fall 2017, we produced The Lady with a Lap Dog, the world premiere of a new musical based on the short story by Anton Chekhov. It was staged at Open Eye Figure Theatre, one of our favorite venues, from September 15-24. It is an intimate, nuanced story of the transformative power of love.
In spring of 2018, we presented the rarely seen masterpiece The Skriker, by the renowned British playwright Caryl Churchill, with original music composed by Keith Hovis. It was our largest scale production ever, with a cast of seventeen and an additional thirteen members on the creative staff. This fierce, poetic, feminist horror tale wowed audiences and critics alike, with Ariel Pinkerton receiving rave reviews in the title role. It was honored for Outstanding Overall Design at the 2018 MN Theater Awards.
In December 2019, we presented the Midwest premiere of Dog Act, by Liz Duffy Adams. This savage and funny post-apocalyptic vaudeville featured singing, dancing, and foul-mouthed cannibalistic Scavengers. It was performed at the Gremlin Theatre in St. Paul. In November 2020, we presented To Breed, or Not to Breed, a COVID-19 safe anthology of autobiographical stories about choices made. Each week, six different stories were told by a completely separate cast, for a total of eighteen original stories written and performed by 21 diverse artists. We created a three videos (one of each week's lineup). They streamed for free (though we requested a donation from those who were able and moved to give) in December 2020 and January 2021.
In September 2021, we produced another COVID-19 safe anthology of autobiographical stories, you who I always/never/once loved. This time, we employed 15 diverse Twin Cities theatre artists to perform original stories about love gained, lost, avoided, and remembered. As with our previous show, we videotaped the performances and made them available for free from October 15, 2021 to February 1, 2022.
Our most recent production was The Hysterical Woman, a history of the concept of "hysteria," and how it has been used to devalue and disenfranchise women from Cassandra to Britney Spears. It was staged at the 2022 Minnesota Fringe Festival, August 4-14, and won a Fringe Festival Golden Lanyard Award for selling the most tickets of any show in its venue.
A gallery of photos from our past productions, as well as complete credits, can be found on our page PICS OR IT DIDN'T HAPPEN.