Lamoine Community Arts' production of Edgar Lee Masters’ “Spoon River Anthology” runs Friday-Saturday, Oct. 26-27, at the Lamoine-Bayside Grange Hall. LAMOINE COMMUNITY ARTS PHOTO BY GEORGIANNA PULVER

Meet timeless characters who could be your neighbors in “Spoon River”

LAMOINE — More than 60 audacious characters from the fictional town of Spoon River in Edgar Lee Masters’ “Spoon River Anthology” will take the stage at 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Oct. 26-27, at the Lamoine-Bayside Grange Hall.

The production will continue at 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Nov. 2-3 and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 4.

Presented by Lamoine Community Arts, and directed by Carol Korty, the performance will feature live music.

Nellie Clark, John Wasson, Judge Selah Lively, Lydia Puckett, Fiddler Jones, A.D. Blood, Ann Rutledge — the latter rumored to have been Abraham Lincoln’s early love interest — and dozens of other characters will present their stories.  Some recite their histories and turning points, others speak of the lives lead by their neighbors, enemies or friends.

Many of the 244 characters, who spin their tales in Masters’ 1915 collection of free verse, “Spoon River Anthology,” represent real people whom the author knew or heard stories about in the two towns where he grew up, in Petersburg and Lewistown, Ill.

The first poem, aptly titled “The Hill,” introduces the mythical residents who lived and died in the rural town of Spoon River. Among those looking out from and sleeping on the hill, you’ll meet the Purkapiles as they separately vocalize their feelings about their disgruntled marriage.

Each person on “the Hill” weaves a narrative of Spoon River shorn of pretense. The interplay of the diverse residents — one a man who credits his parents for all his successful accomplishments. Another is a woman who weeps because he is secretly her illegitimate child —creates a gripping and unabridged saga of life and breadth of humanity with which we all can relate to in real life.

To Masters, Charles Darwin’s survival of the fittest meant survival of the powerful. Along with the bustling poetic images of Carl Sandburg, Masters’ narrative free verse placed the Midwest on the map of a divided and struggling America.

Korty’s interest in the “Spoon River Anthologysprang from her own questioning on where and how America is evolving today. Masters addresses her concern in his character narrations, highlighting how history often repeats itself. She also was drawn to the narrative verse because the multiple characters help people reflect on how they have lived their years, particularly those in the last phase of life — a situation shared by many troupe members and the audiences.

Korty and assistant director Wynne Guglielmo are staging the play with Lamoine artist Diana McDowell’s artistic set design and with live music by Jim Crotteau and Antonio Blasi on guitar, banjo, bass clarinet and flute. The musicians intertwine songs and melodies with the narrative verse. Faith Perkins accompanies with vocals.

After each performance, the Lamoine Community Arts cast and crew will salute Korty’s 10-year creative directorship. Although she is stepping down from the board and various committees, Korty will continue to play an integral role in the troupe. Come along and help them celebrate the truths that fiction presents in manifold facets of small community relationships and life depicted in Edgar Lee Masters’ “Spoon River Anthology.”

Tickets cost $10 per person. Refreshments will be served during intermission. The Lamoine-Bayside Grange Hall is located at 184 Douglas Highway. To reserve seats, call 667-6564.

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