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10 (or so) Qs with Andy Smith

Columnist Steve Lange talks to the Gray Duck Theater owner about his Master of Divinity, movies, and his "meet cute" story

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10 (or so) Questions with ... Andy Smith, owner of Gray Duck Theater (and two bookstores—Garden Party Books and Zumbrota Literary Society).

Despite the name of your theater, you don’t really buy into Duck, Duck, Gray Duck over Duck, Duck, Goose, correct?
I’m not from here. So yes, my loyalty is to Duck, Duck, Goose. We just wanted a name that felt local and ...

Because in the game, the person who’s chosen as the goose attacks the other player, just like a goose would. There’s no evidence in zoology that gray ducks are more aggressive than normal ducks.
Right. We just loved that it was a regional thing. And maybe it’s more Minnesota Nice to not have an aggressive duck.

Fair enough. Which Ent carried Pippin and Merry through Fangorn forest?
Well, so interestingly, his Ent name is actually Fangorn, but in the book you know him as Treebeard, of course.

Of course. How does Farmer Maggot protect the Bamfurlong Farm from people?
His hounds.


People who aren’t familiar with Lord of the Rings are reading these words and probably wondering if they’re having a stroke.
Yes. Lord of the Rings will always be my favorite movie.

You have your Master of Divinity degree?
Yes. I did my MD at Westminster Seminary California. It’s very rigorous. I haven’t stayed up on it, but at one point I could read the Old Testament in ancient Hebrew. I could read the New Testament in Greek. That was a big point of emphasis there to be able to read in the original languages.

What led you to move onto something else?
Once I got involved in the church, two things happened. My actual faith in evangelical Christianity and their viewpoint of the world waned pretty hard for a lot of reasons. And my desire to do that as a full-time profession, obviously, sort of dwindled. After that I traveled. I moved to Florida and taught Bible ed at a little private school to get my thoughts together. And that is where I came up with the conception of this theater.

So when you were looking at starting a theater, you were inspired by an article that said it was possible to open a movie theater for $15,000. Is it possible to open a movie theater for $15,000?
Yes. Not this one (laughter). ... When we started looking for a location I created a pitch and did my own research. I wanted a space that I could design at least a little bit to really reflect that. I knew I wanted to do it in the Upper Midwest where it was a little bit more affordable. My wife, Anna, grew up near the Twin Cities. So I knew the Midwest and I knew that there were not as many cultural offerings, especially around movies, so there was going to be a really good opportunity for that. Then we looked at Rochester and really liked the people, the community. And a lot of what we’re doing here — a lot of what this is all about — is community building.

You’re into movies ...
Yeah. A little bit.

Do you and (wife) Anna have a meet-cute story?
We first met actually at an Ultimate Frisbee game. It’s like a pickup game. She went to ...

It’s a good start for a “meet cute” movie plot. ...
Yes. She was at the same graduate school that I was. And the funniest side of the story is it was her last year at graduate school, and it was my first year. I have always looked much younger than my age. That was much more the case when I was 22 years old. And so when she first met me she thought I was a high schooler. So our meet-cute is that she was immediately discouraged the first time she saw me. But it worked out.

I’m not completely sure that qualifies.
Yeah. I may have to work on that.


Last question: Have you thought any more about my goose argument?
Since we started talking? No. I’m from California. I played Duck, Duck, Goose. I just liked the regional aspect of Gray Duck. But I don’t have a huge goose in this fight.

Your Style - Andy Smith
Andy Smith.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

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Steve Lange is the editor of Rochester Magazine. His column appears every Tuesday.

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