Spoon River Anthology is a stage adaptation of Edgar Lee Masters' classic book of poems that took the poetry world by storm when it was published in 1916. Masters' based the characters in the book (who all speak from the grave) on people he knew during his time living in Petersburg & Lewistown, Illinois.
The last Theatre in the park production of Spoon River Anthology was staged in 1999 and 2000. The production will have an Ensemble of 12-18 actors, with music by Mark Mathewson. Among the poems in the play: Fiddler Jones, Margaret Fuller Slack, Doc Meyers, Lucius Atherton, Hannah Armstrong, Hod Putt, Ida Frickey, Daisy Fraser, Benjamin Pantier,Lucinda Matlock, Alexander Throckmorton and Anne Rutledge. There will be some singing, as well as a square-dance performed.
For the last show of the 2018 Theatre in the Park (TIP) bicentennial season, a cast of local actors and musicians will bring Spoon River Anthology to the stage. Presented by the Edgar Lee Masters Home and Museum, the show runs from August 24, 25, 26, 30, 31, September 1, and begins at 8 p.m. each evening at Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site. Phil Funkenbusch directs the production.
Blending the voices of the cemetery "residents" with Americana folk music from local father-daughter duo Mark and Molly Mathewson, Spoon River Anthology is a poignant, breathtaking presentation of life in early 20th century Menard, Fulton, and Mason counties.
Spoon River Anthology was written in 1915 by Petersburg native Edgar Lee Masters. The book of poems is set in a cemetery and features characters based on real people Masters knew while growing up in Petersburg and Lewistown. It recently was voted as one of the top five books by Illinois authors by IllinoisTop200.com.
Catherine Masters, granddaughter of Masters, will travel from her home in Maine to attend the production. "When we did My Heart's Home [a show based on Masters' work] a few years ago, I was able to get in contact with Catherine and she came to see it. It's wonderful for us to have her here, and I think equally meaningful for her to see her grandfather's work recognized, in his hometown, for the literary genius it is," Funkenbusch said.
The book was considered a masterpiece upon publication, but was immediately banned from libraries across the nation and even in Lewistown – where Masters' own mother sat on the library board. It wouldn't be until 1970 that the ban was lifted, and the book was recognized locally as a seminal piece of American literature.
"Masters changed the names of the people he wrote about, but folks at the time knew exactly who they were," Funkenbusch said. "It's also why many of the stories we hear are very relevant to us today. It's what living in a small town is all about. This realism makes us laugh, and cry, and even empathize with characters who lived right here a few generations ago."
The Edgar Lee Masters Home and Museum will be hosting an opening night dessert reception on Friday, August 24, in Kelso Hollow by the stage from 7 – 8 p.m. Before each production is pre-show entertainment at 7 p.m. followed by a presentation from director Phil Funkenbusch about the show with opportunity for questions from the audience.
Tickets are available at www.theatreinthepark.net or by calling 217-632-5440. Adults $15; Seniors (55+) $13; Children (12 and younger) $10. Group rates of ten or more are $12 each.
7:00 p.m., Friday, August 24, Liz Donathan vocal students; 7:20 p.m. Phil Funkenbusch, director.
7:00 p.m., Saturday, August 25, Peaches & Bacon; 7:20 p.m. Phil Funkenbusch, director.
7:00 p.m. Sunday, August 26, Sound Celebration; 7:20 p.m. Phil Funkenbusch, director.
7:00 p.m. Thursday, August 30, Heavenly Harmony; 7:20 p.m. Phil Funkenbusch, director.
7:00 p.m. Friday, August 31, Route 66 Barber Shop; 7:20 p.m. Phil Funkenbusch, director.
7:00 p.m. Saturday, September 1, Britney Long; 7:20 p.m. Phil Funkenbusch, director.
For more information, please contact TIP's Executive Director, Kari Catton, at 217-899-9732, or www.theatreintheapark.net.
Theatre in the Park 2018 Season is an endorsed Illinois Bicentennial Commission event!
ABOUT TIP: Located in beautiful Kelso Hollow in Lincoln's New Salem State Park (15588 History Lane, Petersburg, IL 62675), Theatre in the Park brings a variety of theatrical performances to the stage every May – September. For more information about TIP, contact Executive Director, Kari Catton, at 217-899-9732 or visit www.theaterinthepark.net.