One-man show explores life of Walt Whitman

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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.