2015 – 2016 WordStage Season

Woodland Cemetary Civil War TourClevelanders In The Civil War

Woodland Cemetery Civil War History

Friday, September 19th from 1:00 – 4:00 pm  |  Woodland Cemetery

Artists on our WordStage roster will launch our 2015-2016 season through their participation in the Woodland Cemetery Foundations’ 2015 Living History Tour “The Civil War at Woodland” to be held on Sunday, September 19th from 1:00 – 4:00 pm at the recently restored Historic Woodland Cemetery – 6901 Woodland Road in Cleveland. The Tour will feature performances and exhibits of artists, photographers, dancers, actors, poets, crafters and musicians.

WordStage Artists Tim Tavcar and Peter Toomey will portray two of Cleveland’s natives that figured prominently in the Civil War era and beyond. Mr. Tavcar portrays John Eaton Darby (1835-1918) professor of Latin and Greek and a physician at Western Reserve Medical College before serving as a regimental surgeon of the 85th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry and white regimental surgeon of the 5th US Colored Troops.  Mr. Toomey takes on the persona of Joseph W. Briggs(1813-1872)  who created a home delivery system for mail after seeing women standing out in the cold for hours waiting for letters from their soldiers in the Civil War; when on March 5, 1863 free mail delivery was authorized by President Lincoln; Briggs became the special agent to implement the system.

Civil War Love LettersCivil War Love Letters

“I am in hopes that I will get a whole package of letters from you in a few days. I never wanted to see you half as bad in all my life as I do now.”

Friday, September 25, 2015 at 7:30 PM  |  Wright Chapel Series

When he wasn’t marching, fighting, or setting up camp, the Civil War soldier might take a few moments to write to his loved ones at home. These letters often contain accounts of battles, life in camp, and general news. But many soldiers, as they marched off to face the enemy, had left behind a wife or sweetheart, and to them they would compose sweet, poignant, and occasionally funny letters that give life and personality to the participants in this great national conflict. These letters show their sorrows of being apart, fears that the soldier would not return home, and hopes for the future after the war’s end.  The letters, presented by WordStage readers Tim Tavcar and Agnes Herrmann and underscored with the poignant music of the Civil War Era played by Jan C. Snow on the Hammered Dulcimer, portray many sides of the soldier in love.

Originally commissioned by the Cleveland Heights/University Heights Public Library for their series on the 150th Anniversary of the end of the Civil War, this encore performance will take place at the Wright Chapel of the Lakewood Presbyterian Church on Friday, September 25th at 7:30pm.

Edgar Allan Poe Spooktakular!Poe and Fiends

Tales and Poems of Mystery and the Macabre!

“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.”  Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

Friday, October 30, 2015 at 7:30 PM  |  Wright Chapel Series

Edgar Allan Poe was best known to his own generation as an editor and critic. His poems and short stories commanded only a small audience. But to some extent in his poems, and to an impressive degree in his tales, he pioneered in opening up areas of human experience for artistic treatment at which his contemporaries only hinted.

This spine-tingling compilation of phantasmagoric poetry and prose will be underscored and enhanced by properly eerie and atmospheric music, played by Lakewood Presbyterian Church’s resident organist, Michael Petrosh.

Killer Verse

Poems of Murder and Mayhem

Sunday with the Friends

November 8, 2015 at 2:00 PM  |   Lakewood Public Library Main Auditorium

The human race seems to be hypnotically fascinated by the deadly art of Murder. As witness by the number of books, films, television programs, and the news media’s unending fascination for the gruesome and gory, we as a species seem to be mesmerized by spine tingling stories of famous and infamous murderers and their victims throughout history, or by those unknown to us but who are all too real.

From a recent anthology of the same name, masterfully edited by Harold Schecter and Kurt Brown, WordStage has chosen to present poems of significant literary, historical and psychological interest and underscore them with music from some of the great classical masters of macabre music – Saint Saens, Chopin, Tartini, Liszt, and more.

The villains and victims who populate this presentation range from Cain and Abel to Bluebeard and his wives, to Lizzie Borden and Jack the Ripper, and many more murderous miscreants. The literary forms they inhabit are just as varied, from colorful melodramatic ballads to hard boiled 21st Century noir, from startlingly lighthearted riffs to profound poetic musings. Some of the authors included in this program are Robert Browning, Thomas Hardy, W.H. Auden, Stevie Smith, Mark Doty, Kenneth Patchen, and Ravi Shankar. These are only a few of the many poets, old and new, whose work will be presented in this heart stopping – and criminally entertaining, WordStage performance.

Winter WordsWinterWords

Friday, December 4, 2015 at 7:30 PM  |  Wright Chapel Series

“Thy breath be rude,” William Shakespeare famously told winter in “As You Like It,” invoking a common complaint about the season: winter is cold, windy, bleak, awful. Five centuries later, poets have much the same complaints.

Winter’s metaphors often include its stillness, its sense of silence and darkness, a season of hibernation, a season where everything dies a little. The falling snow is a “poem of the air,” wrote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, where the “troubled sky reveals the grief it feels.”

Although the long, freezing winter nights and the crisp winter days tend to inspire harsh feelings among the people who endure them, not all poets see winter as a bleak and lifeless season. In Robert Frost’s “Dust of Snow,” a crow’s movements cause snow to dust the speaker passing under a tree, and this dust “Has given my heart / A change of mood / And saved some part / Of a day I had rued.” For other poets, the severe winter weather is a chance to speak in defiance of nature.

Winter weather also provides many poets with an excuse to turn away from outdoor pastimes and instead to concentrate on renewing and affirming their human relationships. The poem “Now winter nights enlarge” by Thomas Campion, for example, celebrates human warmth amidst chilly weather.

Many poets see winter as a fact of the landscape they call home, infusing it with nostalgia. Still others celebrate winter and the joys of the holidays and good cheer it brings.

WordStage’s “WinterWords”  is a pastiche of all these and more by some of our greatest poets and storytellers: from Robert Frost,  Thomas Hardy, the Emilys Bronte and Dickinson, Robert Louis Stevenson, Ezra Pound and many more – augmented with glittering musical selections the season inspires.

Thursday, February 11, 2016 at 7:00 PM | Heights Public Library, Lee Road BranchThe Philosopher Architect

Phillip Johnson

Thursday, February 11, 2016 at 7:00 PM  |  Heights Public Library, Lee Road Branch

For more than 50 years, Cleveland native Philip Johnson was one of the most influential figures in American design and architecture.

After graduating with a degree in philosophy from Harvard in 1930, Johnson became founder and director of the Department of Architecture and Design of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the first museum-affiliated program in the United States devoted to the study and exploration of architecture as an art. It was during his first tenure in the position — he headed the department between 1930 and 1936, and again from 1946 to 1954 — that he and architectural historian Henry-Russell Hitchcock mounted their landmark exhibition entitled “The International Style.”

Mr. Johnson was justly celebrated for championing the two architectural movements that most profoundly affected urban landscapes during the second half of the 20th century: the International Style; and the reintroduction of the uses of a wide variety of historic styles in contemporary architectural design. Philip Johnson won the first Pritzker Architecture Prize for lifetime achievement and received the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects, the highest honor of his profession.

Through his designs, writings, and teachings, Philip Johnson played a seminal role in defining the theoretical shape and literal form taken by architecture in the 20th century.

Love and Music

Sunday, March 16, 2014 at 2PM

Love And Music

A Shakespearean Valentine

Friday, February 12th, 2016 at 7:30 PM   |  The Wright Chapel Series

Shakespeare, Love and Music- could there be a more felicitous melding of subjects and author?

From his most sparkling comedies to his darkest tragedies and in his 154 Sonnets, the Bard contemplated love in all its forms.   From the witty banter of Beatrice and Benedick to the biting repartee of Kate and Petruccio, Shakespeare’s treatment of these universal subjects is both wide in its sweep and has remained remarkably relevant for nearly 400 years.  Using selections from his plays and poetry, and accompanying it with music of the composers that were inspired by Shakespeare’s  works,  the artists of WordStage are pleased to present this work just before Valentine’s Day 2016, that will showcase a selection of enchanting texts from Britain’s greatest author on humankind’s most absorbing topic.

Sunday, February 28, 2016 at 2:00 PM | Westlake Porter LibraryFrédéric & George

A Musical Portrait

The liaison between Frédéric Chopin and George Sand

Sunday, February 28, 2016 at 2:00 PM  |  Westlake Porter Library

Adapted from their letters and diaries and observations by their circle of friends.

At the time when he came into George Sand’s life, Chopin, age 27, the composer and virtuoso, was the favorite of Parisian salons, the pianist in vogue. His success was due, in the first place, to his merits as an artist, and nowhere was an artist’s success so great as in Paris. Chopin’s delicate style was admirably suited to the dimensions and to the atmosphere of a salon.

The fascination of the languor which seemed to emanate from the man and from his work worked its way, in a subtle manner, into the hearts of his hearers.  One such was the legendary author of scandalous novels and outrageously provocative behavior, Amantine-Aurore-Lucile-Dupin – known to all under her nom de plume as George Sand.  At the outset, Chopin did not care to know this emotionally extravagant and self-assured women who spent much of her life dressed as a man.  He did not like women writers, and he was rather alarmed at this one.

But, through the good offices of their mutual friend Franz Liszt, she made the first advances. It is easy to see what charmed her in him. In the first place, he appealed to her as he did to all women, and then, too, there was the absolute contrast of their two opposite natures. She was all force, of an expansive, exuberant nature. He was very discreet, reserved and mysterious.

Such a contrast may prove a strong attraction, and then, too, George Sand was very sensitive to the charm of music. But what she saw above all in Chopin was the typical artist, just as she understood the artist, a dreamer, lost in the clouds, incapable of any activity that was practical, a “lover of the impossible.” And then, too, he was ill. When her former lover, the poet Alfred de Musset left her, after all the atrocious nights she had spent at his bedside, she wrote: “Whom shall I have now to look after and tend?” In Chopin she found someone to tend. And, eventually, Chopin succumbed to that care and attention.

The portrait WordStage presents of these two dynamic artists, is created from some of the many letters they exchanged, from the beginning of their relationship to the passionate climax it reached on their trip to Majorca.  The deeply personal letters are united by a narrative spoken by another mutual friend, the painter Eugène Delacroix.  Some of Chopin’s most memorable music for the piano underscores and accentuates the text.

Stories and Poems from the Auld SodAn Irish Literary Sampler

In Celebration of St. Patrick’s Day 2016

Friday, March 18th, 2016 at 7:30 PM  |  The Wright Chapel Series

Join WordStage Actors as they present an evening of Poetry, Folk and Faerie Tales selected from the huge treasure trove of Irish Literature.  Poems and stories about Banshees, Faerie Doctors, Changelings, Pookas, Ghosts and the Devil will be accompanied by traditional Irish tunes played on the Hammer Dulcimer by Guest Artist Jan C. Snow.

 

Sunday, April 10, 2016 | Lakewood Public LibraryLyrical Langston

The Life and works of Langston Hughes

Sunday, April 10 at 2:00 PM  |   The Lakewood Public Library’s Sunday with the Friends Series

“An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose.”

James Mercer Langston Hughes, the African-American poet, playwright, novelist and voice of the Harlem Renaissance, was born in Joplin, Missouri, but moved to Cleveland in 1916 where he first began writing seriously as a student at Central High.  His earliest efforts were encouraged by Russell and Rowena Jelliffe, founders of the Playhouse Settlement, which became Cleveland’s famous karamu House, where several of his plays were first staged.

WordStage’s literary concert offers an innovative biographical narrative embedded with Hughes’s own poetry, prose and live music and song inspired by his work.

Sunday, April 17 at 3 PMFrédéric & George | Encore Performance at the Bop Stop

A Musical Portrait

THE LIAISON BETWEEN FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN AND GEORGE SAND

Sunday, April 17, 2016 at 3:00 PM  |  The Bop Stop

This is an encore performance.  For ticketing information, CLICK HERE.

Adapted from their letters and diaries and observations by their circle of friends.

At the time when he came into George Sand’s life, Chopin, age 27, the composer and virtuoso, was the favorite of Parisian salons, the pianist in vogue. His success was due, in the first place, to his merits as an artist, and nowhere was an artist’s success so great as in Paris. Chopin’s delicate style was admirably suited to the dimensions and to the atmosphere of a salon.

The fascination of the languor which seemed to emanate from the man and from his work worked its way, in a subtle manner, into the hearts of his hearers.  One such was the legendary author of scandalous novels and outrageously provocative behavior, Amantine-Aurore-Lucile-Dupin – known to all under her nom de plume as George Sand.  At the outset, Chopin did not care to know this emotionally extravagant and self-assured women who spent much of her life dressed as a man.  He did not like women writers, and he was rather alarmed at this one.

But, through the good offices of their mutual friend Franz Liszt, she made the first advances. It is easy to see what charmed her in him. In the first place, he appealed to her as he did to all women, and then, too, there was the absolute contrast of their two opposite natures. She was all force, of an expansive, exuberant nature. He was very discreet, reserved and mysterious.

Such a contrast may prove a strong attraction, and then, too, George Sand was very sensitive to the charm of music. But what she saw above all in Chopin was the typical artist, just as she understood the artist, a dreamer, lost in the clouds, incapable of any activity that was practical, a “lover of the impossible.” And then, too, he was ill. When her former lover, the poet Alfred de Musset left her, after all the atrocious nights she had spent at his bedside, she wrote: “Whom shall I have now to look after and tend?” In Chopin she found someone to tend. And, eventually, Chopin succumbed to that care and attention.

The portrait WordStage presents of these two dynamic artists, is created from some of the many letters they exchanged, from the beginning of their relationship to the passionate climax it reached on their trip to Majorca.  The deeply personal letters are united by a narrative spoken by another mutual friend, the painter Eugène Delacroix.  Some of Chopin’s most memorable music for the piano underscores and accentuates the text.

Thursday, April 28, 2016 at 7PM | Hudson Library, Hudson OHA Bomb In Her Bosom

Emily Dickinson

The Enigma of Emily Dickinson

Thursday, April 28, 2016 at 7:00 PM  |  Hudson Library

The first word of the first poem she ever wrote was “awake.” Almost two centuries later, Emily Dickinson is still jolting us into consciousness.

The legendary recluse in white, who spent most of her life hidden from the world in the small town of Amherst, Massachusetts, wrote poetry for 37 years and yet allowed only a handful of her poems to be published in her lifetime. It wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century, decades after her death in 1886, that all 1,789 of them were discovered and gathered into one book and published in their original, unedited form.

But, according to recent scholarship and new biographies, the myth of the shy, virginal woman in the white dress hidden away in a room in her father’s house, writing poems on scraps of paper, is just too simplistic. The Dickinson of these books is, what would be considered in her own time as “naughty” — a fiercely passionate poetic pioneer with a withering wit and yearnings that, like a good poem, can lift the top of your head off. Dickinson’s avoidance of public life, it has been hypothesized, might have had a less romantic cause: epilepsy. She and her family knew the safest and most practical way to deal with her condition would have been for Emily to simply remain at home.

The debate rages on, but, whatever the case, ever since her work first came to light, Dickinson and her work have never suffered from a shortage of fans and admirers; she is now widely considered one of the United States’ greatest poets. WordStage examines her life and literary legacy through her own poems, letters and diaries and the music of her time.

Originally commissioned by the Lakewood, Oh Public Library for National Poetry Month, 2013, this performance will take place at The Hudson Public Library – 96 Library Lane – Hudson, OH on Thursday,  April 28th, 2016 at 7:00 pm.  Admission is free and open to the public.

Friday, April 22nd at 7:30 PM | The Wright Chapel SeriesAn Entertainment At The Court Of The Sun King

The Court of Louis XIV

Friday, April 29th, 2016 at 7:30 PM  |  The Wright Chapel Series

The early personal reign of Louis was highly successful in both internal and foreign affairs. He advanced the idea of glorifying the monarch and monarchy through the arts. Louis was a discriminating patron of the great literary and artistic figures of France’s classical age, including Jean Baptiste Moliere and Jean Baptiste Lully.

Jean Baptiste Poquelin, who took the “nom de plume” of Molière, was a playwright and actor, the son of a merchant who was upholsterer to the king. He is credited with the creation of French High Comedy, and the genius of his plays lay in exposing the hypocrisies and follies of his society through satire. Under royal patronage his troupe, performing at the Palais Royal, enjoyed continuous success until his death.

Jean-Baptiste Lully was the principal architect of what became known as the French Baroque style in the Baroque period. He dominated the French music scene in an almost monopolistic fashion during the seventeenth century. In February of 1653, Lully and Louis danced in the same ballet together for the first time. Coincidentally, it was in this ballet, Ballet de la nuit, that Louis XIV gained his nickname the “Sun King” from the role of the same name that he played so successfully. It was less than a month later that King Louis appointed Lully his compositeur de la musique instrumentale de Roi. This appointment began a lifelong relationship between the King and Lully. Lully collaborated with Molière and together they staged comédies-ballets.

WordStage has adapted Moliere’s scintillating satire on the manners and mores of his time in his one-act play “The Pretentious Young Ladies.”  This staged reading will be accompanied by selections for the theater composed by Louis’s favorite musicians.

Roena

Thursday, May 19, 2016 at 7PM | Lakewood Library and Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 2PM | Lakewood LibraryOne Hundred Years of Lakewood Public Library

Thursday, May 19, 2016 at 7:00 PM  |  Lakewood Library

Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 2:00 PM  |  Lakewood Library 

Patrons, we’d like you to meet Roena Ingham.  Roena, Lakewood’s first official Librarian, will be our guide through many of the defining events in the Library’s history.  Our program, a collaboration between WordStage and Library staff, will combine a fascinating story, dazzling visuals and a lively accompaniment from several of the Library’s favorite musical artists.

The premiere will be on the Library’s birthday, May 19 2016 at 7:00 PM, followed by an encore performance – Sunday, May 22, 2016 – 2:00 PM at the Library’s Main Branch Auditorium, 15425 Detroit Avenue in Downtown Lakewood.

Friday, May 20th at 7:30PM | The Wright Chapel SeriesGeorge Bernard Shaw

Overruled

Friday, May 20th, 2016 at 7:30PM  |  The Wright Chapel Series

Overruled (1912) is a comic one-act on the manners and mores of “genteel” British Society.  In Shaw’s own words, it is about “how polygamy occurs among quite ordinary people innocent of all unconventional views concerning it.” The play concerns two lovelorn couples who desire to switch partners, but are prevented from doing so by an amusing set of considerations, both moral and, by British standards of the time,  ever-so-slightly questionable, and end up resolving their dilemmas bynegotiating an ambiguous set of relationships.

This will be another entry in our staged reading series and will be accompanied by a selection of piano pieces by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart played by WordStage Company member and musician-about-town, Patrick Wickliffe.