Raw Stages presents a quartet of works-in-progress

Lee Blessing
Lee Blessing
Photo courtesy the Playwrights' Center

The History Theatre and the Playwrights' Center are teaming up, Brave and the Bold style, to present the latest edition of Raw Stages, a look at several in-progress works through staged readings. The short festival runs Thursday through Sunday, with all performances at the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis.

The four shows for 2011 are Brave Heart, Noble Soul, Gimme a T!, 1968: The Year That Rocked the World, and Courting Harry. The festival is important to the History Theatre, as many of their world premieres through the years have been drawn from Raw Stages, including several of the most-recent productions, such as Dudley: Rigged For Laughter, Queens of Burlesque, and the upcoming Adrift on the Mississippi.

The following is a roundup of times and what you can look forward to at each reading.

Brave Heart, Noble Soul

Minneapolis native Lew Ayers may be best known for his turn as Dr. Kildare in several films during the 1930s and 1940s, but the during the actor's long life he had numerous triumphs, faced plenty of challenges, and was even married for Ginger Rogers for a spell. Playwright Donald Orwald explores the actor's life, career, and beliefs in this work, which returns for a second go-round at Raw Stages. HistoryTheatre artistic director Ron Peluso directs. 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Gimme a T!

Cheerleading started at the University of Minnesota in 1892. Playwright Lily Baber Coyle traces its more-than-a-century of history in this play, including the addition of women to the squads. Coyle's past work includes The Princess and the Pee and Watermelon Hill, which had its world premiere at the History Theatre during the 2000-2001 season. Hayley Finn directs. 7:30 p.m. Friday.

1968: The Year That Rocked the World

Seven playwrights (Reginald Edmund, Christina Ham, Kim Hines, Kevin Kautzman, Dominic Orlando, Mat Smart, and Rhiana Yazzie) look at the tumultuous 12 months of 1968 from multiple angles.

The year in question offers plenty of material--from the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. to the chaos at the Democratic National Convention. The playwrights offer wildly different backgrounds and writing experiences, which should only help to to intensify the kaleidoscope experience. Directed by Suzy Messerole. 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Courting Harry

Pulitzer Prize-and-Tony-nominated writer Lee Blessing examines two boyhood friends from St. Paul's Dayton's Bluff neighborhood: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger and Justice Harry Blackmun.

A native of Iowa, Blessing is well known to Twin Cities audiences through numerous productions of his pieces here throughout the years. This includes A Body of Water, which debuted at the Guthrie Theater in 2005. He has written more than 20 other plays, including the oft-nominated A Walk in the Woods. The reading is directed by Joel Sass. 2 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, visit the History Theatre web site.

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