During the summer the number of national touring shows that make their way through Minnesota is limited.

But while some of the larger stages lay dark for longer periods of time, the curtain has hardly closed on the Twin Cities theater scene.

So, if you’re thirsting for some innovative theater, visit the Illusion Theater as they kick off their Fresh Ink Series this weekend.

Since 1987 the series has showcased new, work-in-progress pieces that are in different stages of development.  Aside from just viewing the developmental works, audience members are invited to take a critical look at the pieces and offer feedback to those involved in the shows.

Now in its 28th year, the series showcases a one-person play, a true life story and a “boundary-stretching” physical theater piece.

The series begins on Thursday, July 9 with the opening of “Dr. Deep – Shake Your Noggin Like a Bobblehead.”

With a hint of cynicism, Zaraawar Mistry, of Dreamland Arts, discusses the fundamental laws of the universe, and pokes fun at the idea that if we just understand these laws we can live a life of “essential beingness.”

The play shows at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Following the one-person show is a play based on a true story of an unlikely friendship.

“Yussle the Muscle: A Fable from the Sweet Science of Bruising” takes place in Germany around the time of WWII. It tells the story of the friendship between a German heavy weight boxing champion and his manager, a Jewish, American immigrant.

“Yussle the Muscle: A Fable from the Sweet Science of Bruising” opens at 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 16. It shows at 8 p.m. on July 17 and 18, and 7 p.m. on July 19.

The final performance is written and performed by the local, nine person ensemble, Neutral Mask Collective.

“I’ll Be Trying To Be There” is a experimental show that uses a movement based approach. The group will act out a number of scenes that exmaine human relationships, behaviors and needs in a non-traditional way, focusing on being present with the audience.

The final show opens at 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 23. It plays at 8 p.m. July 24 and 25, and 7 p.m. on July 26.

The Fresh Ink Series begins with “Dr. Deep – Shake Your Noggin Like a Bobblehead” on Thursday, July 9. Tickets cost $15 to $20 for a single show, $36 for two shows or $51 for all three. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call 612-339-4944 or visit The Illusion Theater online.

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