In 1915 playwright Edgar Lee Masters wrote about a huge part of American life, the small town. Not only did his play break down the stereotypical ideas surrounding small-town America, but the unconventional style of this play also ripped through traditional theatre. Phoebe Hall brings this production back to life for the public to enjoy this November at Fayetteville State University.
Spoon River Anthology is a series of free-form poems that describe the lives of the citizens of Spoon River, Ill., a classic small town in rural America. Some may fear that this will lead to a confusing or altogether un-relatable production, but Hall says, “I think audience members will be surprised by how much fun they’ll have with the characters of Spoon River.
“While the time period is ‘long ago’ and we have no way of knowing who is who or what year it is for any given character, I think they’ll find it fairly easy to keep up with who is attached to whom and for what reason. This is very much like a large extended family in that everyone is connected to someone else in some way and once you begin to unravel that, the maze begins to make more sense.”
Many productions romanticize the world in order to provide an escape. Spoon River Anthology does quite the opposite. Instead of creating a fictional world to provide an escape, this production reflects true characters and real truths in life.
“They should expect to be moved, to laugh and to recognize the characters in this small town. We all know them. Some of us are related to them, married to them, teach them, vote for them, love them or even hate them,” said Hall. “But, in the ﬁ nal analysis … we may see ourselves and our own environments in the play.”
Even the actors get an in-depth understanding of the characters as they develop them and portray them on stage.
“As in every play that I direct, my favorite part is watching and helping the actors through the ‘discovery’ phase of rehearsal. I ﬁ nd it very satisfying to see them all have those ‘Aha! moments’ when something ﬁ nally clicks for them about a character and motivation,” said Hall.
Spoon River Anthology was written in 1915, and is set in a time even before that, but the profound truth it portrays about human nature in a small town makes it timeless.
“I think every theme can find some relevance today —it depends on individual perspective. The same issues that plagued Spoon River still plague people in small towns today, so the issues don’t change … just the players,” said Hall.
Spoon River Anthology runs Nov. 17-18 and begins at 7:30 p.m. each night and at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets ordered in advance cost $10 for adults and $8 for faculty, staff and off-campus students. At the door, adults pay $12 and faculty, staff and off campus students pay $10. FSU students with I.D.s always pay $3. Tickets may be ordered by calling the FSU Box Office at (910) 672-1724.
For more information, contact Jeremy Fiebig at 672-2574 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The production will be held in Butler Theatre on the FSU campus.