The 2016-17 Ruth Easton New Play Series at the Playwrights’ Center concludes April 3 and 4 at 7 p.m. with public readings of “Minneapolis/St. Paul” by Core Writer Lee Blessing. The readings will take place at the Playwrights’ Center, 2301 E. Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis. The events are free but reservations are recommended and can be made at pwcenter.org.
Playwright Lee Blessing grew up in the Twin Cities and now lives in Los Angeles. He has been involved with the Playwrights’ Center since the 1970s and is a permanent Core Writer with the Center. Plays by Blessing recently premiered in the Twin Cities include “For the Loyal” at the Illusion Theater and “Courting Harry” at History Theatre. Blessing has been nominated for Tony and Olivier awards as well as the Pulitzer Prize.
In “Minneapolis/St. Paul,” a celebrated crime novelist leads two different lives, one as Randall, the middle-aged husband and father, and the other as Mandy, the newly-wedded wife and stepmother. In a play that is both poignant and bitingly funny, Mandy/Randall struggles with the complexities and repercussions of an identity too vast to fit within binaries.
As Blessing explains, his hometown felt like a particularly apt setting for this new play: “I wanted to write a play about a bigamist situation in which a person was a husband in one case and a wife in the other. It struck me that the Twin Cities would be very handy for that because they are their own different spheres of experience. You can live in one of them and never be that much in the other, even though they’re cheek by jowl.”
Playwrights’ Center Producing Artistic Director Jeremy B. Cohen** will direct, Trevor Bowen (2016 Emerging Artist Ivey Award winner) will serve as costume design consultant, and the lead role will be played by Jeffrey Carlson*, a well-known Broadway actor also celebrated for his portrayal of transgender character Zarf/Zoe on “All My Children” (*Member of Actors’ Equity Association; **Member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society). In 2001, Carlson made his Off-Broadway debut in the Signature Theatre Company production of Lee Blessing’s “Thief River.”