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Patrick Scully is Walt Whitman April 18 in Wadena

The Wadena County Historical Society will host Patrick Scully's "Leaves of Grass — Illuminated" in Wadena at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 18, at the Robertson Theatre. This solo performance by Patrick Scully summons the spirit of America's great poet, Walt Whitman, revealing Whitman's many sides: from the furtive—changing genders to "straighten things up," to the fierce—defying the censors and getting banned in Boston. Now approaching Whitman's 200th birthday (May 31, 2019) Whitman is also an important artist for this era; a poet who loved America, and used his writing to strategically transform what he believed needed to be changed.

"Leaves of Grass — Illuminated" reflects Whitman's utopian dreams, and his 19th century tribulations. It presents fascinating aspects of Whitman's life, times and work. It pulls from history, art, literature, even opera. Whitman crafted clear strategies to deal with the social pressures and the consequences he faced for writing about taboo topics. This is a side of Whitman that few learned about in American literature classes. Some of these taboos have disappeared, others are still very relevant.

"Leaves of Grass — Illuminated" is the product of over 10 years of research and development. A large cast version of this show opened in Minneapolis to critical acclaim in 2014. Scully developed that version into a one man show in a residency at MANCC at Florida State University in 2015, and premiered it in New York City and Minneapolis in 2016. In 2017/18, he toured it to 24 communities in Minnesota, with support from the Minnesota State Arts Board's Legacy Funds. In 2018/19, again with MSAB touring support, he is touring it to another 24 communities.

This production is hosted by the Wadena County Historical Society as part of their Spring Legacy series. It is free and open to the public. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

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