Theatre Department performs “Spoon River Anthology” to full house


Senior Katie Kelley gives a monologue in the last theatrical performance of her college career. She, along with the other cast members, performed the roles of many different characters in the production that ran from Oct. 21 to Oct. 23.

Lindsay Buchanan, Senior Writer

Students, faculty and members of the Florence community filled the Hyman Fine Arts Center recently to see Francis Marion’s Theatre Department perform “Spoon River Anthology.”

The set lent itself to a mysterious air in its simplicity of bare tombstones and a limited color palette of cool grays, blues and blacks. When the house lights went down to signal the beginning of the performance, the play began with a haunting melody and a single spotlight shining down on a solitary singer.

“Spoon River Anthology” is a play by Edgar Lee Masters that strays from the traditional format of a standard beginning, middle and end. The drama consists of 60 individual characterizations of the long-dead citizens of a fictional town called Spoon River in Illinois.

Throughout the play, 10 performers frequently changed characters in order to tell the long-buried secrets of 60 ghosts buried in Spoon River’s cemetery. Although many of the audience members were confused by the performers changing character so many times throughout the play, there is no denying that the stories that were shared about each of the ghosts’ lives was captivating. The lone singer, played by Scarlett Knight, kept the audience intrigued with stirring solos as the play transitioned through different moods and historical events such as the Civil War.

The play is set in the time of President Abraham Lincoln and allowed the cast to be dressed in beautiful costumes that represented the era.

Francis Marion freshman Rachel Webster, a theatre major, attended the show with her mother and was impressed with the different methods used in the play.

“I think it was really interesting,” Webster said. “I enjoy how you have to think about what’s going on and how still everyone is. I like things that are different, so it’s really good.”

Another audience member, Kathy Kelley, was impressed with the talent it took for the students to memorize the lines of so many different characters.

“It was really good,” Kelley said. “You could really tell they had put in time in preparing each monologue. There was a lot of talent.”

The play was directed by FMU Professor Glen Gourley and included a cast of 11 students. The cast consisted of Matthew Adkins, Jessica Coleman, La’Rita Dingle, Michaela Gentry, Zach Gladstone, Blake Graham, Adam J. Grazewski, Katie Kelley, Daniel Price, Kathleen Turek, and Scarlett Knight. Performances ran for three nights from Oct. 21 through Oct. 23, and each show had high attendance.

Students from any major on campus were given the opportunity to try out for the parts. After Gourley chose and assigned performers for the 11 parts, the actors and actresses practiced individually in order to memorize the many different roles they would perform on stage. The cast later came together to practice as a group before performing live.

FMU’s Theatre Department will next host their winter production called “The Fourth Wall.” The play will be directed by Associate Professor of Theatre Dawn Larsen. “The Fourth Wall” was written by A. R. Gurney, and will run from February 17-19, 2011. The department’s spring production will be a series of International One Act Plays directed by Professor of Theatre Keith Best from April 7-8, 2011. These one-act plays will have a special showing on April 9, 2011 during the Arts International Festival held on the FMU campus.