The Mill: “Black Panther” star brings her play to the Guthrie

The cast of the Guthrie Theater’s production of Familar by Danai Gurira, on the McGuire Proscenium Stage at the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis // Photo by Dan Norman, courtesy the Guthrie Theater

The cast of the Guthrie Theater’s production of Familar by Danai Gurira, on the McGuire Proscenium Stage at the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis // Photo by Dan Norman, courtesy the Guthrie Theater

Iowa-born, Macalester-educated Danai Gurira, who co-starred as a warrior of Wakanda in “Black Panther,” is bringing her newest play to the stage at the Guthrie. Now more than ever, Gurira is juggling the roles of playwright and actress, as she reckons with the star status she’s acquired since starring in Marvel’s “Black Panther,” which has brought in more than $1 billion worldwide since its release in February.

Gurira’s “Familiar,” the story of an African woman marrying a white American man from Minnetonka, premiered last weekend at the Guthrie. By her own admission to the Star Tribune, Gurira said that this play has been the most difficult to write thus far. “It’s the closest thing to my own family that I’ve ever written.”

Gurira’s plays most often revolve around the experiences of black women around the world. In 2016, her play “Eclipsed” debuted on Broadway, starring her “Black Panther” costar Lupita Nyong’o, telling the story of a group of sex slaves in war-torn Liberia. From that harrowing story to the humor “Familiar” brings to the stage, Gurira’s stories fall across the wide spectrum of themes and emotions, but always tying back to the stories of African and immigrant women. Born in Iowa and raised in Zimbabwe, Gurira’s own experiences being both American and African can be seen in the bulk of her work.

“Familiar” first debuted at Yale Repertory Theatre in 2015. When Guthrie’s artistic director Joseph Haj saw it in New York, he immediately knew it had to come to the Twin Cities. “In a large way, immigrant stories are not told very often or very deeply,” Gurira told the Star Tribune. “There’s a very large African population in the Midwest, and I’ve spent a lot of time in Minnesota, so it just made sense that that’s where the story takes place.”


Yoerg Brewing Company's Monk Ale // Photo via Yoerg Brewing Company Facebook

Monks’ Ales // Photo via Yoerg Brewing Company Facebook

Yoerg Brewing Company has announced an intriguing partnership that will supply them with guest beer for their historic Yoerg Saloon, soon to re-open in St. Paul. The Monastery of Christ in the Desert, a Benedictine monastery founded in the mountains of New Mexico in 1964, brews just 1,000 barrels a year under the moniker Abbey Brewing Company. With the partnership, Yoerg will have four to five of these “Monks’ Ales” on tap year-round.

Woodbury is getting its first brewery later this year with 3rd Act Craft Brewery. Set to open in late 2018 off of Radio Drive, the brewery will be led by husband-wife duo Stephen and Deb Long. The pair teamed up with local architect and construction firms to build a new 5,600-square-foot facility, complete with eight taps and plans to serve directly from the brewery’s finishing tanks.

California’s Firestone Walker Brewing Company is coming to Minnesota, with distribution to start rolling out mid-April. To celebrate, some of the Firestone Walker team will be visiting bars and restaurants across the state and pouring some special releases such as Sucaba, Stickee Monkee, Helldorado, Agrestic, Parabola, Parabajava, and Sour Opal.

Megadeath bassist and Minnesota native David Ellefson is collaborating with Sioux Falls microbrewery Hydra Beer Company to make his own coffee stout, Urban Legend Coffee Stout. He opened Ellefson Coffee Co. last year in his hometown of Jackson, and in January released Combat Blood and Bullets Cabernet, a California cabernet, and Combat Hard Cider, infused with his coffee.

Warrenville, Illinois’ Two Brothers Artisan Brewing, which was opened by brothers Jim and Jason Ebel in 1996, is releasing its own line of spirits. Two Brothers Artisan Spirits, produced in the brewery’s own Roundhouse facility, has already begun to roll out in liquor stores, restaurants, and bars around the area. The first line of spirits released includes Two Brothers Artisan Spirits Vodka, Citrus Vodka, Gin, Coffee Liqueur, and Beer Barrel Aged Amaro.

The Brewers Association released their list of the Top 50 Craft Breweries in 2017, which ranks America’s top craft breweries by sales volume. Minnesota made the ranks with Schell’s, Summit, and Surly, respectively. The three powerhouse breweries also represented our state on the 2016 list. 2017’s top-ranked U.S. brewery was D. G. Yuengling & Son of Pottsville, Pennsylvania.


Andrew Zimmern outside of Night Market + Song, a Thai food restaurant in Los Angeles, California, which was featured on hos new show, Zimmern Live // Photo via Andrew Zimmern Twitter

Andrew Zimmern outside of Night+ Market Song, a Thai food restaurant in Los Angeles, California, which was featured on Zimmern’s new Travel Channel Show, “The Zimmern List” // Photo via Andrew Zimmern’s Twitter

Andrew Zimmern debuted his newest Travel Channel show last week, “The Zimmern List.” Rather than shock viewers with his capacity to eat the most unsettling foods and global delicacies in “Bizarre Foods,” this show will explore a collection of Zimmern’s favorite places to drink and dine. The first episode visited Los Angeles, with tonight’s exploring the food scene of Austin, Texas.

Southwest Minneapolis’ East Isles Residents Association has announced a new 40-vendor farmers market to kick off this summer in The Mall of Uptown between Hennepin Avenue and Humboldt Avenue, perhaps extending a block if necessary. Though plans are in the later stages, the biggest roadblock remains obtaining approval from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to run a regular farmers market in public park space, which has never before occurred. The leverage this time around is that the project is spearheaded by a neighborhood group, in an area that has easy access to transit.

Yet another new restaurant will be coming to St. Paul’s Grand Avenue in April, the Iron Ranger. This Iron Range-inspired pub will be small, no more than 44 seats inside and a back patio for warmer days, will feature a northern Minnesota staple: porketta. This northwoods interpretation of an Italian classic will be joined on the menu with flatbreads and pizzas, fried goodies, and some easily shareable plates.  


The Secret of Skully's Cabin escape room // Photo via Escape Room MSP Website

The Secret of Skully’s Cabin escape room // Photo via Escape Room MSP Website

Escape MSP is upping the ante in both difficulty and narrative. On March 15 they opened their newest escape experience, called “The Secret of Skully’s Cabin.” According to a press release, “A chain of vanishing hikers in the area has local law enforcement perplexed. You and your team of FBI agents have been called in to lead the mysterious investigation. As you search deep into the stormy, sinister woods, you encounter an abandoned cabin that is absent from the map. What has become of the missing hikers? And what secrets will you uncover during your 45 minutes inside the deserted dwelling?” Fun…!

Minneapolis has pulled out of the running for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, citing impossible demands for host cities from FIFA, particularly the one of “assuming liability for safety and security incidents.” Other cities to pull out this week are Chicago and Vancouver, also due to failed negotiations with FIFA.

The Mill is The Growler’s regular digest of all things new and notable in the world of food, drink, and culture. Stop back weekly for restaurant news, brewery rumors, and more. Have some news you want to share? Got some gossip to dish? Drop us a line at [email protected]