Gasman returns to Bemidji with 'Out Of The Hat' debut

Theater director Greg Gasman will make his Northland debut with "Out of the Hat" on Saturday, Feb. 22, at the Chief Theater. Submitted photo.

BEMIDJI -- Theater director Greg Gasman has returned to the Bemidji area after moving to Duluth in 2012. He will make his Northland debut with "Out Of The Hat, 9th Edition" at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22, at the Historic Chief Theater, 314 Beltrami Ave. NW.

Beginning on Friday, Feb. 21, five writers will each have the evening to create a complete adult comedy play from a beginning line, an object, a place and a certain number of male and female actors, all of which are drawn randomly out of a hat by the writers. Then the actors and directors will have less than a day to learn their parts before performing to a live audience on Saturday evening, a release said.

For more information on the production, contact Kat Lavelle at (218) 214-2087.

Gasman has been a fixture in the arts since 1982. In addition to his theater work, he was also the general manager of Harmony Food Co-op for 15 years prior to his move to Duluth.

Here is what Jeremiah Liend, one of the writers for "Out of the Hat," had to say about Gasman and his return:


"When I returned to Bemidji after 9/11 Greg Gasman was there to catch me. Having trained in a conservatory setting for the previous two years in New York City, I was searching for a way to put that knowledge to use, and Greg was up to the task. Over the course of the subsequent two decades I have worked with Greg making theater art. It isn’t a conventional kind of theater. It isn’t commercialized, or dumbed-down. Greg doesn’t make it easy on anyone. In a place and time where it seems everything gets an ovation, Greg makes you work for your applause. He makes you earn it, as a performer and as an audience member.

Guerrilla, experimental, renegade theater adds a dimension and depth to the arts scene in northern Minnesota that is rarely found outside the metro. While organizational theater must make safe, ordered and commercially viable choices, it leaves gaps in our cultural exposure. Broadway musicals, established plays and otherwise homogeneous works are the order of the day. When budgets are so thin, and with the bottom line creeping farther upward, who among us is brave enough to take a chance on the unknown? Greg Gasman is. Because he is not making art for money, he’s making it to share with the community. He is making it in order to create something unique, new, and never before seen in or around Bemidji.

Life teaches us harsh lessons, and Greg has been dealt more than a few. He has experienced loss, tragedy, displacement and uncertainty. No one would fault him for giving up on his art, or blame him for getting a stable job and leaving the arts to those still floundering. But, that is not his way. His way is producing the dangerous, the compelling and the important. His way is to challenge audiences to leave their comfort zone for a few hours and to experience something new. His way is to wrap up the chaos, joy and fear we all experience in life, tie it together with a shoe string and set it free into the wild.

Greg returns to the area after seven years away, but don’t call it a comeback. He has returned to continue and we are all the beneficiaries of his good works."

For more information about Greg Gasman's time in Bemidji read this article written by the Pioneer in 2012.

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