1500 East Lake Street
Minneapolis, MN 55407
In the Heart of the Beast is an organization that provides entertainment and performances for community members of all ages. They describe their mission thusly: “to bring people together for the common good through the power of puppet and mask performance.” In reading this I can’t help but think of my favorite Minneapolis event, the Mayday Parade, put on by Heart of the Beast. This parade has been held annually since its humble beginning in 1975, when it was attended by only a few hundred people. The 2017 parade attendance is estimated to have been 55,000! If you have never been to the parade before, it is a must-experience event and I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you would like to be in or involved with the parade behind the scenes, look for announcements in April, when calls go out.
In the Heart of the Beast's other offerings include school and community organization residencies by theater artists. Participants can learn to develop group puppet theaters and storylines, work on performances, and engage in creative play.
In the Heart of the Beast started in 1973 in the basement of Walker Church in the Powderhorn neighborhood. After outgrowing their space at the church they moved into the then-vacant Avalon Cinema building, where they are currently housed. The Art Deco-style Avalon was designed in 1937 by Perry Crosier. It opened playing Hollywood feature films, and later made the transition to art-house cinema. The rise of home television, coupled with the demise of the Minneapolis streetcar system in the mid-1950’s, caused economic distress to the Avalon, as well as many other local theaters. In 1957 the Avalon began showing adult films, until public complaints forced it to shutter in 1985. After renting it out for two years, In the Heart of the Beast raised a million dollars in 1990 to purchase and renovate the Avalon. It has been their home ever since.
To read more about the history and goings on of In the Heart of the Beast check out their website and the 1999 published book Theatre of Wonder: 25 Years In The Heart of the Beast.