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One-man show explores life of Walt Whitman

Patrick Scully is touring his one-man show, "Leaves of Grass - Illuminated," throughout Minnesota. He'll perform at the Park Rapids Area Library on Friday, Aug. 4. (Submitted photo)

Minneapolis performer Patrick Scully brings Walt Whitman to life in his show, "Leaves of Grass — Illuminated."

The solo performance is 1 p.m. Friday, Aug. 4 at the Park Rapids Area Library. The event is sponsored by the library and Beagle and Wolf Books.

Scully summons the spirit of America's great poet, 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.

According to Scully, Whitman is truly an artist for 2017, 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 focuses on relationships between men and the forces that seek to deny them. "Leaves of Grass — Illuminated" pulls from history, art, literature, even opera, and presents aspects of Whitman's life, times and work that are fascinating today, now that discussions of male-male relations have moved out of the shadows into the light of day.

This show 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 "Leaves of Grass — Illuminated" in New York City and Minneapolis in 2016. In 2017-18, he is touring it to 24 communities in Minnesota, with support from the Minnesota State Arts Board's Legacy Funds.

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.