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Fred Cuny was that quintessentially American commodity, a self-made man: a tall Texan who kept reinventing a checkered past (a busted marriage, an early washout in the Marines) until he finally found the one that fit. When it did, Cuny proceeded to rewrite the book on international disaster relief--quite literally saving the lives of tens of thousands of refugees in Bosnia, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Kurdistan. Then he went to Chechnya in 1995, where he disappeared without a trace.

Burning Coal's Artistic Director Jerry Davis and Floraine Kay have adapted Scott Anderson's 1999 best-seller, which tries to pick up Cuny's trail and settle, for once and all, the question of his fate. The all-star cast for the show, which runs through June 13, includes Mitchell Butts, Lynne Guglielmi, David Henderson and Terry Milner.

Anderson will be present for a talkback after the opening night performance. Thursday-Saturday shows are at 7:30 p.m. Thanks to a grant from the N.C. Humanities Council, the next two Sunday's 2 p.m. matinees are free and feature discussions with Drs. Gerald Suhr and Alex DeGrand. Tickets for all other shows are $13 (students, active military and seniors) or $15. For reservations, call 834-4001.

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