Spoon River is a stage adaption created by Kate Sandvik of Edgar Lee Master’s Spoon River Anthology. Poems from Spoon River Anthology are interspersed with a variety of songs ranging from hymns to patriotic songs. The play starts with a funeral in Spoon River, Illinois. After the funeral, a character simply known as the Passer-by reminisces about walking through the cemetery with her now deceased grandfather. The memories of the people buried in the cemetery then appear and share their final words and thoughts with the little girl through poems and song. The memories share stories of the joys and sorrows of marriage and love, the Civil War, and their legacies and the way they were remembered or want to be remembered. Even though the stories were set a long time ago, they can still relate to us today. We may be in St. Paul, Minnesota, in a different century, but in our own way, we are also Spoon River.
One of the “ways of knowing” we discussed last semester was imagination. Spoon River demonstrated many different uses of imagination including acting, dancing, and singing. One thing I loved about the play that many people would not think of is the set and the lighting. The set is a huge piece with different levels, stairs, and ramps. There were also trees to give the idea of being outside and some of the lighting made it look as if the stage was underneath a cover of trees. I loved how so many different talents have been combined to create something so beautiful: the emotional acting, the beautiful singing and orchestra, the lighting, the sound effect, and the set. Without all these things, Spoon River might still be good, but it would not have the same effect. This reminds me of how we should use all the “ways of knowing” in our lives. If I just learned through emotion or reason, I would not learn as much as if I used all the “ways of knowing” and thought critically. I am sure Spoon River could be good if it were just acting and not singing, but it would lose so much of the message. It is important to remember all the “ways of knowing” and the impact they can have, just as Spoon River utilized many talents and aspects of theater to create the feel and message of the play.
I got to work as a stage hand for Spoon River. My friends can tell you that I complained a lot about all the hours of rehearsal I would have to sit through with nothing do to. However, I thoroughly enjoyed tech week and the weekend of shows. The cast was full of great people that I got to hang out with. I especially loved all the music in Spoon River, and if you came backstage you would probably find me sitting at the prop table, doing homework, and singing along. Being backstage gives you another view of how the show works and all the different aspects that go into it, and that is another reason I enjoyed helping. I think Spoon River is a sweet and well-created play about the joys and sorrow of life and the hope we have after death of spending eternity with God.