Readers Theatre

25 Years of Readers Theatre Productions

Presented by the Department of Communication and Students in Communication 240 and Communication 491*, Dr. Daniel L. Padberg, Instructor and Director

1989 (April 5, 1989)
Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters

Edgar Lee Masters unique poetic anthology, published in 1915, contains 240 poetic epitaphs that provide unique prospectives about the lives of the people of the fictional Illinois community of Spoon River. Setting the anthology in the cemetery allowed Masters to avoid the restrictions of time; thus personal epitaphs from the time of the American Civil War to the early Twentieth Century were included. The 1989 production was a cutting of some of these poetic glimpses of the people of Spoon River. Music was included that was taken from the 1973 Off-Broadway Production of Spoon-River.

1991 (March 27 & April 7)
Agony and Ecstasy: Winners and Losers

The title of this program suggests the interrelationship of winning and losing, victory and defeat. These opposites have been inexorably linked in literature and music throughout the ages. The selections in this program were chosen to show the agony of despair and frustration, the pain of unrequited love, the hurt of rejection and the devastation of cowardliness, along with the fears of death, aging, and breaking away. To contrast this side, other selections will brightened us with the joys and love of living. Readings of hope and opportunity and faith will help push the darkness away and allow the audience to glimpse as Shakespeare suggested, “the stuff that dreams are made on.”

1992 (April 1 & 4)
The Eternal Struggle: Male Versus Female

Few themes are as universal as this eternal struggle. Selections showed the relationship between the male and the female from the most serious of clashes as well as those that brought chuckles as well as riotous laughter. From delightful pieces from The Apple Tree, showing the clashes between Adam and Eve to excerpts from other contemporary plays and musical, the struggle of gender was brought into the spotlight.

1993 (March 24 & 29)
POTPOURRI OF LITERATURE: Seasonings

Several firsts are worthy of note about this Readers Theatre Program: first, the main title of Potpourri of Literature was used, with the theme stated as a subtitle. Secondly, this production was televised as part of the series entitled “Purdue for You.” The program contained selections that reflected fondly and not so fondly upon the seasons, those times of year which surpass calendar, which surpass the phenomenon of solar passage, but with which we measure the activities of our lives, spicing and flavoring our interactions as they mix with our expectations of the seasons. This is why our lyric and musical excursion through the year was called “Seasonings.”

1994 (April 6 & 10)
READER’S THEATRE PRODUCTION: Cutting of Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters

This is one of those sources that were featured time and again over the years of Readers Theatre at Purdue University North Central. Edgar Lee Masters famous Anthology provides many selections from which to choose. Each program of this source was different in various ways, yet always provided audiences with a unique prospective of people in a small mid-western town. (See 1989 for more details of Edgar Lee Masters.)

1995 (March 29 & April 2)
POTPOURRI OF LITERATURE 1995: Relationships

This program explored through literature and musical selections the theme of relationships, those bonds and barbs that pull us together and push us a part. However, the lessons learned through these comforting and challenging moments are not only the tests of good relationships but also the great value of love. Through time literature has extolled love, as well as those showing the passions of relationships flaming hot from great love, as well as deception of self-serving egos.

1996 (April 17 & 21)
POTPOURRI OF LITERATURE 1996: Agony and Ecstasy: Winners and Losers

The selections of this Readers Theatre asked the audience to enter with their imaginations into experiences and passions of joy and despair, highs and lows, winners and losers, agony and ecstasy. Ecstasy often centers on love and love-making; however, love sometimes is ripe with irony revealing things differently than they seem. Agony also has many faces, projecting emotions of inconsolable pain and despair. Also from deep agonizing pain can come moments of vision and inspiration.

1997 (April 9 & 13)
POTPOURRI OF LITERATURE 1997: The Eternal Struggle: Male Versus Female

One of those themes repeated often because of the universality of the subject and the plethora of literature and music that can be drawn upon to illustrate the theme. Through the years it was a favorite theme for participating students as well as audience.

1998 (April 20 & 26)
POTPOURRI OF LITERATURE 1998: Seasonings

Again a popular theme was repeated because of its universality and popularity as well as the plethora of available literature and music that features this subject. From ancient Biblical writings we are reminded that “to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” So again students presented selections about life through the lens of the seasons of the year. And again the audience could enjoy the spicing of the “seasonings.”

1999 (April 14 & 18)
POTPOURRI OF LITERATURE 1999: A Journey in Time

This Readers Theatre program focused upon the end of the century. In a program of verse, prose, and song the students commemorated the end of the century, the turning of the millennium, and the ever present passage of time. The selections attempted to capture the mixture of emotions that ranged from anxiety and despair to joyful optimism and confidence as we looked at the end of a millennium as well as the passing of a century.

2000 (April 5 & 9)
READERS’ THEATRE PRODUCTION Cutting of Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters

Spoon River Anthology continues to be one of our favorite choices for Readers Theatre at PNC. Because of the enormous body of work from which to select, many sub-themes and relational conflicts can be shown by the choice of epitaphs. This was another opportunity to explore the profound view of a fictional mid-west town of the past, yet one so like so many others.

2001 (March 26 & April 1)
POTPOURRI OF LITERATURE 2001: An Odyssey: Wanderings Through Life

As Purdue North Central embraced the idea of new expressions of art on the campus utilizing the name of “Odyssey,” it was decided to feature that title in the Readers Theatre program. Unfortunately that semester produced the lowest enrollment number in the history of the class, only four female students. Faculty members were recruited to augment the number and participate in the readings. An excellent program evolved highlighting journeys depicted in literature and song.

2002 (April 3 & 7)
POTPOURRI OF LITERATURE 2002: Let Freedom Ring!

Our country realized after the horrendous events of September 11, 2001, that once again America must stand firm for its freedom and liberty. Therefore this program, through literature and music, recognized and honored the service personnel and others throughout our history that have protected those freedoms that all too frequently we have taken for granted. These recent events should remind Americans of the values and the responsibility of their freedom. That was the goal of this Readers Theatre program.

2003 (March 31 & April 6)
POTPOURRI OF LITERATURE 2003: Mars—Venus; Venus—Mars:  The Eternal Struggle

Another version of one of the oft-repeated themes was selected. Literature dealing with this theme is so abundant that the sources are almost limitless.

2004 (April 19 & 25)
POTPOURRI OF LITERATURE 2004: Calendar of Love

The theme of this Readers Theatre program focused specifically on love as it is presented in literature and song specifically through the four seasons of the year: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.

2005 (April 6 & 10)
POTPOURRI OF LITERATURE 2005: When the World Is Free

The Academic Year 2004-2005 commemorated the Sixtieth Anniversary of the end of World War II. In the Fall Semester, the campus theatre production group, the PNC PLAYERS presented The Diary of Anne Frank, and in the Spring Semester, the Readers Theatre program featured this pivotal time in history, the ending of the war. The events of this pivotal historical time was presented in literature and song lyrics, coupled with narrations that literally reflected the news headlines of this crucial period in world history.

2006 (March 29 & April 2)
POTPOURRI OF LITERATURE 2006: Agony and Ecstasy: Winners and Losers

Again from the vast sources of literature dealing with this subject the struggles and success of life were explored with this popular theme. Again musical selections formed an essential part of this program.

2006 (September 18)
Let Freedom Ring [COMMUNICATION 491]

In this Fall Semester of 2006, Communication 491 “Oral Interpretation II” was offered for the first time. The course was unique in the Purdue system; no other campus offered a second level of Oral Interpretation. This course was designed to provide students with advanced levels of work with the performance of literature before an audience and would include public performances of Readers Theatre as well. Such public performances in oral interpretation are unique to PNC also. This Readers Theatre program was designed to celebrate the Constitution of the United States of America. The recently mandated holiday to celebrate the Constitution became the inspiration for this program. Through a collage of literature and music the history of this document and the amazingly unique country which it founded was celebrated.

2007 (March 29 & April 2)
POTPOURRI OF LITERATURE 2007: Spoon River Anthology

As in past programs Edgar Lee Masters unique piece of poetic literature will be drawn upon for yet another look at Spoon River from the past with its many inspirational and stimulating messages for our times us well.

2008 (March 31 & April 6)
POTPOURRI OF LITERATURE 2008: Journey in Time

The theme of time has been explored before in PNC Readers Theatre, yet each journey is unique–different students, different audiences, and in most cases difference examples. Yet the universals of how time affects our lives, both positively and negatively were stressed yet again. And often, the idea of the urgency of the journey is driven home to us, as with Robert Frost who pointed out that there “were miles to go before sleep.”

2008 (October 27 & November 2)
Of Thee I Sing and More. . . .[COM 491]

This is another Readers Theatre program presented by the students enrolled in “Oral Interpretation II.” The theme and title of this program was inspired by the 1931 musical Of Thee I Sing, the first musical to win the Pulitzer Prize. That musical was a satire about American politics, and so the show began. From that point the program presented the picture of politics and its impact upon society. We laughed and cried with the songs and literature about this exhilarating subject.

2009 (April 20 & April 26)
POTPOURRI OF LITERATURE 2009: It’s All About Time

Again an old theme comes back. However with some new twists. This program featured time as the inevitable pacing of life. How no matter what we encounter, no matter what task we accomplish or fail to achieve, it’s always about time. Time that shapes the way our lives run their courses.

2010 (April 13 & April 18)
POTPOURRI OF LITERATURE 2010: Courage, A Way of Life, From Youth to Age

This theme was inspired by stories of some of the students on the campus who had demonstrated incredible courage in over-coming some of the obstacles of their lives. The theme evolved into the presentation that through literary pieces expressed courage from youth to age and provided a message of inspiration to all viewers.

2010 (October 26 & October 31)
READERS’ THEATRE 2010 Back Home Again in Indiana [COM 491]

This was another program presented by the students of COM 491 “Oral Interpretation II.” Even though COM 491 officially became COMMUNICATION 348 in 2012, this was the last time that this course was ever offered. Through interaction with the students the theme evolved and the program grew into the Readers Theatre program presented. The program was a collage of the literature and songs of writers, poets, composers, and lyricists who were either born or lived in Indiana. The program celebrated our home state of Indiana.

2011 (March 31 & April 3)
POTPOURRI OF LITERATURE 2011: The Turning Points of Life

This theme was inspired by the idea that all good stories have turning points. These climatic moments of crisis usually reveal special things about the characters in which they must make decisions and deal with dramatic questions. One of the wonderful benefits of literature rests upon the learning opportunity for readers and viewers to gain personal inspiration and guidance as we face our own turning points of life.

2012 (April 24 & April 29)
POTPOURRI OF LITERATURE 2012: Spoon River Anthology

This popular source is used again to produce a program that focus on people, some like us, but most of whom represented types of people that we have met and encountered in our lives. Some of these people are scary, some we would avoid if at all possible, yet some will inspire us with their wisdom and ethical ways. This was yet another visit to Spoon River.

2013 (April 17 & April 21)
POTPOURRI OF LITERATURE 2013: Agony and Ecstasy: Winners and Losers

A theme repeated many time over the years, yet always popular with student participants and audiences alike. The universality of the subject never ceases to amaze all concerned. Life clearly shows us daily the ups and downs that come with just performing our regular activities. Though it might seem repetitious the literature clearly demonstrates that sometimes we win and sometimes we lose.

2014 (APRIL 22 & APRIL 27)
POTPOURRI OF LITERATURE 2014: Memories: Journey Through 25 Years

The program this year will celebrate the 25 years of Readers Theatre on the PNC Campus, and will contain a collage of some of the literature used in the various themes over those years. The presentation will feature three sections as the memories of the 25 years are celebrated: “Times and Struggles of Life,” “Love: Romantic, Family, Country,” and “Life’s Decisions, Actions, and Meaning.”