In the 1940s, when polio still ravaged many lives throughout the world, Sister Elizabeth Kenny brought an innovative approach that improved the lives of thousands of victims and changed the way the disease was treated.
Her story, including her founding of a rehabilitation center in Minnesota in 1942 and her fight with the medical establishment of the time, is showcased in the History Theatre’s latest piece.
“Sister Kenny’s Children” stars famed local performer Claudia Wilkins as Sister Kenny and features performers from the St. Paul Conservatory for the Performing Arts in other roles. Playwright Doris Baizley was commissioned to do the work after History Theatre Artistic Director Ron Peluso received a cache of letters and information about Sister Kenny from retired Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter Peg Meier.
The conservatory students have been part of the process since a “Raw Stages” reading of the work in 2009. The young performers gave “voice to the young patients whom Kenny treated” and “brought a wonderful energy and a touching, almost haunting quality to the story,” Peluso says.
“Sister Kenny’s Children” runs Saturday through Feb. 14 at the History Theatre, 30 E. 10th St., St. Paul. Tickets are $10 to $30. For tickets and more information, call 651-292-4323 or visit online.