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PREVIEW: Sex, War, and Syphilis (and More) Come to Minneapolis

Sex, War, and Syphilis are coming to Minneapolis. Technically, that should read is coming to, but really – do you want to debate grammar, or do you want to say, “WTF, mate – syphilis?”

WTF, indeed: it turns out that St. Paul is to blame for giving Minneapolis Syphilis. This is clearly playwright Katherine Glover’s fault, since she wrote the script. Some credit (or blame) is also due at the doors of Raw Sugar and Theatre Unbound, which are recorded to have been involved in several furtive play development affairs in Minneapolis’s sister city this past year. The name of the transmission vector/incubator? The two organizations’ Women/Trans/Femme New Play Workshop.

Sex, War, and Syphilis is one of three plays from WTF that Raw Sugar and Theatre Unbound are producing next month. The others are the more succinctly titled Kinks and Ace – the latter about asexuality, not cards. All three will be presented in a sometimes-kinky rotation at the Crane Studio in Northeast Minneapolis from April 6-15.

“We wanted to create an opportunity,” said Jenny Moeller, Raw Sugar’s Artistic Director, “for women-identified writers to create new comedy and see it fully produced.” The WTF New Play Workshop was thus conceived to engage local female, trans, genderqueer, agender, queer, and feminist writers and performers to create new comedic works. The three plays that Raw Sugar and Theatre Unbound premiere next month are intended, in part, to challenge audiences to rethink their own perspectives on gender, sexuality, privilege, and community through comedy.

Each of these plays takes a decidedly different subject and approach. Ace, by Beth Ann Powers, tells the story of a young asexual finding her way in a world of middle school crushes, make-out sessions, and sex on TV. It also explores “ace superpowers” and one rather confused clone. It is directed by Margo Gray and features original music composed by Jess Eisenberg.

Kinks follows a different angle: protagonist Tracy decides to do the “big chop” and embark on a journey from relaxed to natural hair. A humorous exploration of the serious issues arising (a-frizzing?) from hair that black women face on a daily basis, Kinks is directed by Kim Hines.

Katherine Glover’s Sex, War, and Syphilis is a wartime tale set during World War I. Seventeen-year-old Hazel has gone crazy for men in uniform. Her best friend Florence doesn’t like it one bit – and neither does the War Department. This historical comedy is based on a real-life government program to protect soldiers from syphilis. How? By policing women’s sexuality, naturally. Morgan Holmes directs.

Sex, War, and Syphilis, Kinks, and Ace run in repertory at the Crane Studio in Northeast Minneapolis from April 6-15.

Basil Considine