Three years ago, Strawdog Theatre Company set out to develop an original play. They signed on Chicago playwright Hank Boland to write the script and company member Misha Fiksel to oversee the music. The idea behind the story was to make it the all encompassing American tale. Indeed, in the early stages of script development, the project was simply referred to as "The Epic."
After much focusing, clarification, and work shopping, they presented The True Ballad of Fall's Blessings in the summer of 2005.
The musical told in four interconnecting story on the American frontier. One is a minister fulfilling God's calling. The second is a young farm-hand who leaves his job on a Kansas farm to head west with a traveling circus and become an actor. Third are his employers; two sisters struggling to save the farm they inherited from their father. And finally, the circus owner searching for the act that will save his show. All are touched by the enigmatic Mr. Parker who seems to have a trick or two up their sleeves.
All characters are searching for something that will make their lives better. Whether they are trying to fulfill the promise that were told of a better life or simply going on faith alone, in the end, what they ultimately must find is themselves. It is a journey that is truly American.
One particularly delightful scene involves the actors traveling with the circus. They are the troup that is bringing Shakespeare to the American frontier - historically accurate as has been discussed in previous entries in this blog. They have an "Act Off" to determine who the true master is. The scene leads to some charming moments that any true Shakespeare and theatre love will enjoy.
August 31: Alan Jay Lerner (1918-1986) & Sanford Meisner (1905-1997)