Spoon River Speaks From Beyond The Grave At Green-Wood

Spoon River Speaks From Beyond The Grave At Green-Wood
spoon river 2013

The Spoon River Project, Tom Andolora’s stage adaptation of the 1915 classic by Edgar Lee Masters, is entering its final week of performances at Green-Wood Cemetery, and for those who haven’t had a chance to take part in this truly unique theatrical experience, you’ve still got five opportunities to share in the trials and tribulations of Spoon River’s eclectic cast of characters.

We recently caught up with Tom to learn a bit more about the origins of The Spoon River Project, and what audience members can look forward to as the glow of a silvery moon envelops them at the heart of our beautiful Green-Wood.

SSN: How did the Spoon River Project come about?
TA: I was always drawn to Spoon River Anthology, the book. As a teacher, I worked on the monologues with actors in classrooms for many years. I was drawn to the rich darkness of the book, the heartbreaking stories, and the sheer beauty of the writing of Edgar Lee Masters.

I had the idea to produce my adaptation live in a cemetery a few years ago. I am grateful the first producers, The Fenton History Center and The Lake View Cemetery in Jamestown allowed me, as a playwright, to workshop it.  They produced it for three summers. Each summer I was able to fix the script and do rewrites. That was a huge luxury for a playwright.

By the time I brought it to Richard Moylan, the President of Green-Wood, it was finished. I didn’t know Richard at all before Spoon River. I just sent him an email about the show asking him if he was interested in producing The Spoon River Project at Green-Wood.

To my great surprise, not only did he not delete the email, but he wrote back saying he was very interested in producing The Spoon River Project! I have been very lucky and feel quite blessed since the beginning with this show. It’s been a terrific journey.

What can you tell us about the residents of Spoon River?
I can’t tell you a lot with out giving away the show’s surprises, but the characters stories are quite surprising, sad, stunning and sometimes shocking.

What is it about these stories that translates so well to our lives today?
Much like Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, The Spoon River Project deals with the same aspects of the human condition that are still very much relevant today. The characters feel the same pain and joy as we feel in our own lives. They deal with the same problems we deal with in our private lives today: infidelity of a spouse, illness in the family, feeling like an outcast in society, and the sadness of unrequited love are as relevant today as they were in 1915 when Edgar Lee Masters wrote Spoon River Anthology.

What do you hope audience members take away from the performance?
I think the audience will remember the show, and talk about it, long after.

This is Edgar Lee Masters’ masterpiece. And there is nothing gimmicky about this production. This show at Green-Wood Cemetery is the perfect blend of literature, theatre, and location. It becomes a very special experience, seeing live theatre, lit by lanterns and torches in the middle of a dark cemetery. I hope the audience will come away feeling satisfied that my adaptation has lived up to both the incredible writing of Edgar Lee Masters and the majestic setting where it is placed.

Remaining shows are Friday, June 28, Saturday June 29 and Sunday, June 30 at 8:30pm and a 4pm Sunday matinee. Tickets are $30 for non-members and $25 for members of the Green-Wood or Brooklyn Historical Society. Saturday, June 29, will also feature a midnight show that includes a tour of Green-Wood’s Catacombs for $40 ($35 for members).

We do recommend sitting on the right hand side of the audience, because (while the music was good) the keyboard was very loud, and unfortunately drowned out a number of the actors for those of us sitting in house left.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit the Green-Wood website, or call 718-210-3071.

Image via The Spoon River Project