Spoon River Anthology Q&A
Spoon River Anthology opens June 12. Check out some questions we asked the cast!
- What drew you to SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY? (SRA)
The first thing that drew us to SRA was the writing. Edgar Lee Masters had a gift for capturing something so profound from a small town setting. The characters speak from their graves, reaching us and teaching us about human existence. The poetry is written in free verse as short epitaphs that carry insightful messages. Secondly, Jon taught SRA in several high schools and directed the production three times. He took his students on field trips to Lewiston, (aka- Spoon River) and visited The Hill, Oak Hill Cemetery, where most of the characters are buried. The experience these students had was transformational and elevated the productions overall.
- Why will audiences be drawn to SRA?
We believe everyone in the audience will find something in the program that resonates with them. The characters are very diverse and come from all walks of life. The one thing they have in common is they all carry a piece of the broad spectrum of the human experience.
- How does SRA relate to modern audiences?
The same essential fabric that makes up human life today is captured uniquely in the characters of SRA. Even though the book is 100 years old and the setting is a small rural town, (Lewiston, IL), it speaks to the same dreams, desires, hopes, heroics, moral decay, and mistakes that fill all of lives in today’s world.
- How does a cast of three produce SRA?
SRA provides the wonderful challenge for an actor to differentiate a wide range of characters, old, young, pure, corrupt, serious, comedic, and wise. Jon plays 18 characters, Paddy plays 15 characters, and Patti Ecker compliments the epitaphs with music of the period. Having music not only gives the piece another layer of historic flavor, it enhances the mood and helps the listener to digest the epitaphs.
- What would we like audiences to walk away with after seeing SRA?
We not only want the audience to be entertained, but also to be moved or touched in some way, perhaps by striking a chord in their own lives. We also hope they come away with a new appreciation of the impact that Edgar Lee Masters’ contribution made to American Literature and to World Literature.
- What else would we like to say?
SRA was published in 1915, and it was based on the true lives of people who lived in Lewiston and Petersburg when Masters was growing up. The names of the characters were barely changed by Masters and were clearly recognizable to the townspeople. Even though it had become a standard of American Literature across the world, it was banned from Fulton County, Illinois schools and libraries until 1974, in hopes that the characters’ descendants had all passed away. This also was not a commonly accepted form of poetry. It was new, revolutionary, and opened the doors to modern poetry with its free verse style.
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