Center for Orphan Drug Research and the Department of Theater Arts and Dance to Collaborate on New Production Focused on Rare Diseases

Oct. 14, 2021

The University of Minnesota Center for Orphan Drug Research and the Department of Theater Arts and Dance are collaborating to develop a new production focused on bringing attention to those diagnosed with a rare disease.  

The collaboration will adapt the Greek tragedy, Philoctetes, to help a Minnesota-wide audience gain greater awareness and deeper understanding of the medical, economic, psychological, and social challenges facing people with rare diseases. The play will be developed this spring in a U of M Creative Collaboration course offered in the Department of Theater Arts and Dance. Kevin Kling, best known for his popular commentaries on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and his storytelling stage shows like Tales from the Charred Underbelly of the Yule Log, will collaborate on the production. The class will be led by instructors Luverne Seifert, Head of BA Theater Performance at the University of Minnesota and Sonja Kuftinec, Professor of Theater at the University of Minnesota. The class will feature medical experts, testimonies by people who have rare diseases and their family members, in conjunction with the development of the play.  

James Cloyd, PharmD, director of the Center for Orphan Drug Research at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy will spearhead the project in collaboration with Erica Barnes, MA, staff adviser for the Chloe Barnes Rare Disease Advisory Council and Reena Kartha, MS, PhD, faculty, University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy

In the summer of 2022, a professional production will be developed and performed on the University’s Twin Cities campus, in the Twin Cities community setting and in greater Minnesota by Sod House Theater Company. The Sod House Theater Company is a local theater that specializes in creating professional theater experiences in close collaboration with Minnesota communities in order to illuminate timely and relevant issues and create an empowering space for public dialogue and reflection.


College of Pharmacy,

Founded in 1892, the University of Minnesota, College of Pharmacy is the only pharmacy school in Minnesota, with campuses in the Twin Cities and in Duluth. The College of Pharmacy improves health through innovative education, pioneering research and interdisciplinary practice development that attends to the diverse needs of the people of Minnesota and the world.