The puzzling endurance of Marxist puppet theater

My recent visits to Lake Street in Minneapolis inspired me to return to one of my favorite subjects: the In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre.

(Think large papier-mache puppets, not small, handheld ones.)

Located in the Avalon Theater at 1500 East Lake Street, the Theatre was founded in 1973 and is well known for their annual MayDay celebration in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood.

After a two-year hiatus, the MayDay celebration was back this year.

I first wrote about the Theatre over a decade ago and documented its history and adoption of its current name.

It was founded as the Powderhorn Puppet Theater (after the local neighborhood), but eventually changed its name to a slogan popularized by the Argentine-Cuban Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara. (Curiously, the Theatre’s current website has an entire page devoted to rewriting the history of the name change.)

True to its nature, the Theatre has never been very good at capitalism. Lurching from one crisis (2019) to another (2021), the Theatre has survived the pandemic, the riots, and six Republican presidents.

The against-all-odds survival of the Theatre is due in no small part to the generosity of the Minnesota taxpayer. In the past dozen years or so, the Heart of the Beast has scooped up nearly $1.8 million through the State Arts Board.

The source of the money is the state’s Legacy Amendment, passed in 2008. Heart of the Beast has received Arts Board money every single year that the Legacy program has been in effect. The Legacy Amendment is due to run out in 2034, which surely means at least another dozen years of taxpayer-funded Marxist puppet shows.

Of course, the Heart of the Beast also received two (2) PPP loans from the federal government for a total of $134,000.

The newest production begins performances on June 16. Entitled The Impact Theory of Mass Extinction, the production features the following premise.

Two black, queer, teens discover dinosaur bones in their South Minneapolis neighborhood! After being sucked into a prehistoric portal, they are taken in by a nurturing “queendom” of dinosaurs.

Please, don’t ever change.