Archive | May, 2012

The Spirits Return

16 May

On Thursday evening, the park in Evansville will go through a transformation as the Rally ‘Round the Flag Civil war re-enactors arrive to set up camp. And on Friday the event will go into full swing. School buses will arrive and the children will get to see what life was like in a Civil War camp.

This is the second year that Evansville has hosted the event. And in talking to the re-enactors it was apparent that they are a knowledgeable group that understand and love to talk about every detail.

ECT will do the latest installment of “Talking Spirits”, a program that commemorates the lives of some of those from Evansville that were involved in the Civil War. This will be the first time ECT has done it at dusk and the program will last until after dark.

Bus transportation will be provided between Lake Leota Park and the cemetery, with an additional pick up/drop off at the corner of East Main and Union Streets. The bus will depart from the park at 7:30 pm, and return after conclusion of the memorial program. The program is free and open to the public, but donations are welcome.

Four mini‐plays, each running about 7 to 8 minutes will be presented, interpreting the lives of Civil War veterans at their grave sites. They include Dr. John M. Evans, namesake and first postmaster of the community, and his wife, Emma; “Captain” Caleb Lee and Mary “Belle” Lee; Beaman Snow; and Allen S. Baker, founder and Baker Manufacturing and his wife Margaret. 

Following presentation of the mini‐plays, the audience will gather in the natural amphitheater before the flagpole for this year’s Civil War memorial programThe program will conclude with some short and appropriate remarks by President Abraham Lincoln, portrayed by George Buss, of Freeport, Illinois, and the sounding of “Taps.”

For more information click on the link in the right column under the “Now Playing” heading.

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President Lincoln Comes to Evansville

10 May

When I first moved to Wisconsin people would ask me where I was from. The easy answer was California since that was the last stop before I arrived here but finally I just confessed that I was from Galesburg, Illinois. A few would say, “oh, that’s where Grant’s tomb is at.” No, it’s not, Grant is buried in Galena, Illinois about 130 miles north of Galesburg.

Galesburg does have its Civil War connections though, one being that it is the last remaining site of a Lincoln-Douglas debate. The debate took place on the east lawn of Knox College’s Old Main (Knox is my alma mater).  Carl Sandburg, a Galesburg native, wrote about the event in his biography of Lincoln, The Prairie Years:

“On October 7 [1858], in the itinerary, came Galesburg, in Knox County. Twenty thousand people and more sat and stood hearing Lincoln and Douglas speak while a raw northwest wind tore flags and banners to rags. The damp air chilled the bones of those who forgot their overcoats. For three hours the two debaters spoke to people who buttoned their coats tighter and listened. They had come from the banks of the Cedar Fork Creek, the Spoon River, the Illinois, Rock and Mississippi Rivers, many with hands toughened on the plow handles, legs with hard, bunched muscles from tramping the clods behind a plow team. With ruddy and wind-bitten faces they were of the earth; they could stand the raw winds when there was something worth hearing and remembering.”

Due to the weather,  the venue was changed from a nearby park to the east side of the Old Main. A story widely known around campus is that the platform was constructed across the doors about halfway up the windows. This required the two men to crawl out the top of the windows onto the platform. Apparently Lincoln with his taller and more slender frame was more graceful than his debate opponent.

The debate was unlike what we currently think of in the modern sense. Each would take his turn making his point then the other would counter. The debate was about abolition  and Douglas accused Lincoln of being an abolitionist. It turned out that Douglas was right. It also turns out that the debate was taking place outside a building that was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Hopefully, barring bad weather that would require a last minute change of venue, Evansville will not require Lincoln to crawl out a window to make his speech in Evansville on Friday, May 18th. He will be addressing the attendees at the Maple Grove Cemetery as part of ECT’s “Talking Spirits” presentation.

Photos courtesy of Knox College

It’s Showtime!

4 May

After weeks of rehearsals, set building, painting, lighting and sound prep, it’s finally opening night! Come see Once Upon a Mattress at the Evansville High School Performing Arts Center tonight and tomorrow night at 7:30 and Sunday afternoon at 2:00. To all involved, break a leg and have a great run!

Photos by Sharon Cybart

This Friday?!

2 May

Once Upon a Mattress

I stopped by the Evansville High School Tuesday afternoon to deliver food to help feed the hungry hordes of actors and crew members busily trying to get through the final few days before opening night. Parents organizing and delivering the meals during the week is one of the traditions of the high school plays.

But while I was there I poked my head into the Performing Arts Center (PAC)  to see what was happening. Before the food arrives PAC is teeming with kids, working on the set, troubleshooting lights, testing the microphones. Then someone peeks out of the light room window that overlooks the Commons and yells “the food has arrived! And two minutes later there is an eerie quiet in the PAC.

One of the teachers continues to work on the set, a student disassembles the lift to get it out of the way, Tyler from Sew Many Threads quietly sorts the t-shirts, Mr. D., the director and theater teacher strolls through.

Calm before the storm.

The noise and crowd has descended on the Commons where the potluck consisting of a plethora of main and side dishes and desserts, drinks and paper plates has been laid out by other parents who have donated their time and effort to make it happen.

Inside the PAC, the seating area looks like a lost luggage area at O’Hare. Backpacks and coats are strewn about, it starts in the lower third of the seating area, and like a storm that loses power tapers off toward the middle. It picks up again by the sound board where the body microphones are lined up on the balcony ledge waiting for the actors.

But for now they are all in the Commons eating, laughing, enjoying the camaraderie of their friends, enjoying the free time before the gravity of producing a play sets in.

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