The classic Spoon River Anthology will return to Marsh Hall on April 29th and 30th when the Presby Players Community Theater brings alive 21 very colorful personalities.
For those who are unfamiliar with the work, Spoon River Anthology, written by Edgar Lee Masters in 1915, is a book of dramatic monologues in poetic free verse spoken by residents of the fictional small town in the title: named after the Spoon River which ran near Master’s home town of Lewistown, Ill.. All of these characters are at their gravesites in a cemetery, letting the audience know who they were when alive: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Because many of the 212 characters were based on real people, those who lived near Spoon River were not happy with their portrayals and the book was banned from Lewistown schools and libraries for nearly 60 years.
Director Jeffrey Stocker said a cast of eight will be portraying two or three characters each. Rehearsals have been ongoing weekly in Stocker’s acting workshop for adults. He added,
“It’s a challenge not only for memorization, but for building characters,” Stocker said. “The actors must find the thoughts behind the words that translate into action with the use of limited props and costumes.”
Joe Rudy, President of Presby Players, will be in the cast. Rudy’s been a participating actor in the community theater since 1992. He will be portraying three different “polar opposite characters” as he points out, his favorite being Jack McGuire, the town drunk.
“McGuire committed murder, but he redeemed himself and learned to read and write; he’s quite the character,” Rudy said.
Pat Corcoran also will be in character for three Spoon River residents. One is Ann Rutledge, who was, in real life, the supposed first love of Abraham Lincoln.
“She died very young, and therefore they never married,” Corcoran said. “I’m also the infamous Dora Williams, basically a two-time murderess, so I’m playing people completely out of character for me...and that’s what makes it fun.”
Tom Park said he has no favorite among the three characters he will portray. “
This is my first exposure to [Spoon River] and the more you read, the more you admire Masters’ genius in putting it all together,” he said. “You discover there are a lot of connections between the characters.”
Margaret Harris has very different characters and, she says, a challenge.
“I’m trying to do accents,” she said. “One has a southern twist to it, and the other, a German accent ... I’m learning a lot about acting, focusing and rehearsing, and it changes the way I look at all theater production and movies now.”