Opening: This is a sweet little play of hope by Paul Zindel. Caledonia Wilson plays Tillie, a bright and optimistic student who flowers despite living in a home full of negativity. Ellen Fenster directs Gremlin Theatre’s production, which also features Jodi Kellogg as Tillie’s mother, who does everything in her power to thwart her daughter’s dreams. The cast includes Eleonore Dendy as Tillie’s sister, Ruth, who sides with her mother in the three-way test of wills. This will be Gremlin’s last production in its current home. Artistic director Peter Hansen says he’s on the hunt for a new space. (8 p.m. Fri.-Sun. Ends June 23, 2400 W. University Av., St. Paul, $20,

Graydon Royce


Opening: Skip the subtitle and tell your friends you are going to see Shanan Custer portray “Ėmilie,” an eighth-century French noblewoman who dared to be a scientist. Set in the afterlife, Ėmilie ponders the questions of head and heart. Matt Sciple plays Voltaire, with whom Ėmilie had a dalliance. Custer has long been a comic actor full of winning personality and depth. Theatre Pro Rata is staging the play in a science lecture hall at St. Catherine University in St. Paul. Carin Bratlie directs. (7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sun. Ends June 22, Mendel Hall, Room 106, 2004 Randolph Av., St. Paul, $14-$41 on sliding scale, 612-234-7135 or

Graydon Royce


Friday-Saturday: Noted choreographer, dancer and storyteller Kenna-Camara Cottman pre­sents “African Nights,” two jam-packed evenings of performance from local artists including her own Voice of Culture Drum and Dance troupe. The theme is “Worldwide African Woman” and griot Auntie Beverly will guide a show that includes works by aerialist Junauda Petrus, Haitian folkloric dancer Anne Adabra and much more from Nimo Farah, Oyin Dance Collective, River See Jukers and Pam Plagge of Rene Thompson Dance Studio. (7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat.,$10, Patrick’s Cabaret, 3010 Minnehaha Av. S., Mpls., 612-724-6273,



Aberration of Starlight

Opening Thursday: In a new play by Walter Davis, poet Emily Dickinson struggles with the creation of her “vividly mysterious” (Helen Vendler) poem, “My Life had stood — a loaded gun —.” The show features Bethany Ford in a monologue that seeks to get inside Dickinson’s heart and mind. “My goal,” writes Davis, “is to replace ‘The Belle of Amherst’ — that sappy extended Hallmark card of a play — with a work that does justice to Emily’s tragic psychological depth and her erotic complexity.” (8 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 7 p.m. Sun. Ends June 22, Lowry Lab Theater, 350 St. Peter St., St. Paul, $20, pay-what-you can show 8 p.m. June 17, www.brown​

Claude Peck