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Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright David Feldshuh.

Playwright returns to U to discuss story of the Tuskegee Study

April 25, 2006

From 1932 to 1972, 399 black men from Macon, Georgia unwittingly took part in a government study on the effects of syphilis in African Americans. The men were told only that they were being treated for "bad blood" disease, as part of the U.S. Public Health Service's Tuskegee Study. Even when penicillin was discovered, the government refused to treat the men and deliberately did not inform them so that the study could continue.

David Feldshuh, who studied medicine at the University of Minnesota, wrote "Miss Evers' Boys," a Pulitzer Prize-nominated play based on this true story. On Friday, April 28, Feldshuh will discuss the play on the Twin Cities campus at the Harvard Street Forum, noon to 1 p.m., at Grace University Lutheran Church, Harvard and Delaware streets. The public is invited to this free event. "Miss Evers' Boys" has been produced throughout the United States and received the New American Play award, and seven Emmy awards as an HBO movie. The title of Friday's discussion is "Miss Evers' Boys: Factual Fiction and Ethical Truths."

Feldshuh will be joined by Jon Hallberg, a professor of family medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Hallberg says a dramatic reading of "Miss Evers' Boys," in collaboration with the Guthrie Theater, has become a regular part of the first-year Medical School curriculum, as part of the Physician and Society course.

"This play brings to life, in a way no traditional lecture can, issues of class and race and poverty. It makes us think about informed consent and doing the right thing," he says. "This play gets us to ask the questions, 'What would I have done?' and 'Where is this kind of thing being done today?'"

Feldshuh has been artistic director at Cornell University's Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts since 1984. Although full-time at Cornell, Feldshuh continues to practice medicine and lectures frequently on the subject of human experimentation and the use of theatre in exploring important social issues.