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Out on a Limb

Pillsbury House Theatre’s Chicago Avenue Project presents Out on a Limb, featuring ten original, short plays written by neighborhood youth in partnership with professional dramaturgs, and performed and directed by some of the Twin Cities’ best theatre artists.

November 3 and 4, 2014

Monday at 7:00 pm
Tuesday at 4:00 and 7:00 pm

at Pillsbury House Theatre, 3501 Chicago Avenue S., Minneapolis
Directions and Parking Info »

Admission is free —just show up! All ages welcome.

Many of the characters in Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet are named after Yoruban orishas. An orisha (also spelled òrìṣà) is a spirit or deity that mediates between the natural and supernatural worlds. Here’s a glimpse into the features of certain characters’ orishas.

Eshu (aka Elegba and Elegua) is the orisha of chance and uncertainty. Known as the “trickster,” he lurks at gateways and doorways to introduce chaos and accident into the lives of humans. He is also seen as the “divine messenger,” delivering messages and sacrifices between the natural and spiritual worlds, and is known for his sexual exploits. In “The Brother/Sister Plays,” Marcus Eshu, Elegba, and Elegua all have divine visions or insights.

Ogun is the orisha of iron, metal work, and war. He is dependable and helps overcome spiritual and psychological obstacles. Ogun is also the only character appearing in all three of “The Brother/Sister Plays.”

Oshun is the orisha of sensuality, beauty, and fertility. She has the power to heal with water, and is often called upon to cure female ailments. Oshun is a strong and confident woman, but she also has a passionate, easily angered spirt. In “The Brother/Sister Plays,” Shun, Osha, and Shaunta Iyun all have characteristics of this orisha.

Shango is the orisha of masculinity, virility, warriors, thunder and lightning, and fire. He has three wives, Oya, Oshun, and Oba. He is said to be able to transform ordinary items into something pure and coveted. In “The Brother/Sister Plays,” Shango is a soldier in Iraq who woos several other characters.

Oba is said to be a dutiful wife, despite having been left by her cheating husband Shango. In “The Brother/Sister Plays,” Oba raises Marcus on her own.

Oya is often described as the tempest, the winds of destruction, change and progress. She is the orisha of rebirth and is often depicted with her husband Shango. In “The Brother/Sister Plays,” Oya is faced with several difficult decisions that change the course of her life.

Oshosi is the orisha of hunters. He resides in the forest. In “The Brother/Sister Plays,” Oshoosi Size escapes to the woods with his friend Elegba.

The Characters of “The Brother/Sister Plays”

MARCUS Family Tree

Marcus Reviews

Marcus Reviews
photo by Michal Daniel

The reviews are in!

Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet is a Pillsbury House Theatre and The Mount Curve Company co-production in the Dowling Studio at the Guthrie Theatre, September 12 – October 5, 2014. Reserve your tickets through the Guthrie’s Box Office online or by calling 612-377-2224.

Already see Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet? Tell us what you thought: Facebook | Twitter | Email


Marcus; Or The Secret Of Sweet by Pillsbury House Theatre and the Mount Curve Company, performing in the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio
By John Olive,

“See this intoxicating play: it will make you want to leave dreary and frigid Minnesota and move to moonstruck Louisiana, a land of sun-showers, nighttime assignations on the bayou, intricate family relations, powerful friendships.” Read the full review »

Theater review: ‘Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet’ gets a production to be remembered at the Guthrie
by Rohan Preston, Star Tribune

“[Nathan] Barlow…delivers a breakout performance that is grace-filled and revelatory. He handles his two major monologues, both Shakespearean in their heft, with charisma and aplomb, inviting us into his heart, his hopes and his reveries. But his brilliance is far from solitary… All the players in “Marcus,” who sit at the side of the stage when not performing, have moments when they light up the stage with their individual fireworks..” Read the full review »

‘Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet’ review: Fresh, heartfelt
By Rob Hubbard, Special to the Pioneer Press

“The Pillsbury House/Mount Curve production deftly brings out both the mystical and earthy in McCraney’s play, the staging spare, the technical effects minimal but timely, and most of the performances convincingly crafted.” Read the full review »

McCraney’s “Marcus” Has Topnotch Talent Telling Its Gay Coming-of-Age Story
By John Townsend, Lavender Magazine

“Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Brother/Sister Trilogy has become one of the major dramatic works of the current era. Pillsbury House and the Mount Curve Company co-produced the first two plays at the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio. Now they are presenting the final and best of the three in the same venue by the same director, OBIE-winner Marion McClinton.” Read the full review »

“Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet” by Pillsbury House Theatre at the Guthrie Theater
by Cherry and Spoon

“Talented young playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney has such a unique vision and voice, and these three plays create such a specific world with people that are familiar and beloved.” Read the full review »

Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet – A Review

“The Dowling Studio provides such an intimate setting for this story. The actors larger than life emotions and depth sweep you away into the bayou, into the storm that is coming literally and figuratively. As you watch Marcus unravel his dreams and truth, you will see some of your own life but also life through new eyes, with profound insight. This play takes touchy subject matter, makes it real and teaches us with plenty of humor along the way.” Read the full review »


“Twin Cities theater producer underwrites quality”
by Rohan Preston, Star Tribune

Read the full story »

“Playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney sees ‘Marcus,’ visits with its actors”
by Rohan Preston, Star Tribune

Read the full story »

Marcus: Part Three of a Trilogy Goes Wandering Off in the Dark
by Star Tribune

Read the full story »

‘Marcus; or the secret of sweet’ builds a community on and off stage
by Euan Kerr, Minnesota Public Radio

Listen to the full story »

‘Marcus,’ final play in Tarell McCraney’s trilogy, opens at Guthrie
by Rohan Preston, Star Tribune

Read the full story »

Nathan Barlow embraces the words for Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet

Read the interview »

Marion McClinton: A man made by theater
by Rohan Preston, Star Tribune

Read the full story »

Pillsbury House Theatre hopes you continue the conversations that our productions inspire. After you’ve seen Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet, share your thoughts with us online (email Kelsye, post on our Facebook page, or Tweet us); attend a post-show discussion (view the calendar); or consider the following discussion questions wherever you wind up after the show:

  1. How does Tarell Alvin McCraney’s language and the verbalization of the stage directions affect your experience of the play?
  2. Myth plays a very important role in shaping the characters’ identities. What is your personal myth? How much of who you are today has been shaped by your ancestors?
  3. In the play, everyone seems to know that Marcus is “sweet”, and yet, when he finally acknowledges it, people have mixed reactions. What is your response to Marcus’ sweetness? What does the play say about the need to identify others and/or be identified?
  4. The theme of love runs throughout “The Brother/Sister Plays.” What kinds of love can you identify in this production?
  5. What role does community play in Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet? What do you think McCraney is saying by giving the community this role?
  6. At the end of the play, we know a major, Katrina-like storm is approaching. What is the importance of water and weather in this play?
  7. If you have seen either/both of the other two “Brothers/Sister Plays,” (In the Red and Brown Water and The Brothers Size), what connections can you make between them and this play? Why do you think McCraney decided to end the cycle with Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet?
  8. Why do you think McCraney calls this series of plays “The Brother/Sister Plays”?

Wá Wö (“Come Watch” in Yoruba), is a series of projects and events organized by artist Sam Ero-Phillips in response to Pillsbury House Theatre and The Mount Curve Company’s co-production of Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet, playing September 12 – October 5 in the Dowling Studio at the Guthrie Theater.

Wa Wo consists of four parts:

  1. Way-Finding Zine

    A publication inspired by the play that will guide Pillsbury House Theatre neighbors to the Guthrie Theatre for this production.

  2. Washburn Residency

    A residency with students in the Black Box Theatre program at Wahsburh High School to create an original performance.

  3. Pop-up Performance: Friday, Sept. 26 (Time TBA)

    at Cafe Southside (3405 Chicago Ave S)
    The Washburn students will present their original performance and lead a discussion on topics addressed in Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet.

  4. Bike to the Guthrie: Friday, Sept. 19 at 6:45 pm and Sunday, Sept. 28 at 6:15 pm

    Meet at Pillsbury House Theatre (3501 Chicago Ave S) with your bike and appropriate safety gear (don’t forget your lights–it will be dark when we return) for a group bike ride to the Guthrie Theatre to see Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet.  Buy your tickets in advance ( or 612-377-2224). We will be staying for the post-show discussion on Sunday, Sept. 28th. RSVP and invite your friends on Facebook.

Artist Biography

Audience (R)Evolutions artist Sam Ero-Phillips

Audience (R)Evolutions artist Sam Ero-Phillips

From a young age, Sam developed an interest in exploring society through visual arts. He was born in North Minneapolis and spent his early childhood years in Nigeria with his family. His passion for visual arts as a child matured into a desire to analyze society by studying architecture and studio arts as an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota. For his Master’s thesis project in the architecture department at the University of Illinois, Sam developed a mixed use primary school and community center in Igbogun village in Ogun state, Nigeria, to promote job creation using sustainable design. Sam was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to pursue his research in 2010 and started a doctorate in Sustainable Development at the University of Lagos in 2011 to help him establish a micro-business at the educational facility and allow his project to serve as a case study for other villages within the region. Sam has used comics as a tool to document his creative process and published his first full length graphic novel in 2007. He has also worked as a freelance architect since 2009, as the Environmental Design Instructor at Juxtaposition Arts since 2012 and as a Creative City Making Artist with Intermedia Arts in 2013.