Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Living History: Auditions for Discovery Walk

Have you headed out to Bloomington's Evergreen Cemetery to take in the Discovery Walk in years past? Every October, actors portray real-life Bloomingtonians (and Normalites) who are buried at Evergreen, using scripts written by local writers (and, yes, I've penned a few over the years) to tell you how the people who were here before us lived their lives.

The Discovery Walk is a collaboration between the McLean County Museum of History, Illinois Voices Theatre and Evergreen Memorial Cemetery, with Illinois Voices' Judy Brown commissioning all the pieces and casting and directing the actors. As Judy describes it, visitors each year join "the McLean County Museum of History Education Department, Illinois Voices Theatre actors, and museum guides to hear a storyteller/griotte weave the stories of eight new McLean County citizens, McLean County itself, and Evergreen Memorial Cemetery into a fascinating crazy quilt of lives and experiences."

Judy has announced open auditions for this year's roles -- a paying gig! -- which include:

Grace Jewett Austin (b. Jan. 12, 1872 – d. Sept. 27,1948) Who better than this amateur playwright and poet, fashion dame and Pantagraph reporter, to fill you in on who was marrying whom, who showed up in town, who went to what party, and who wore what to women’s club meetings – in short her reporting would be right at home in People magazine – Bloomington’s own red carpet reporter.

Daniel T. Foster (b. Jul 22, 1841 d. Oct. 13, 1920) How does a man go from being a larger-than-life Civil War soldier, an owner of a local omnibus and carriage line, a raiser and racer of horses and mayor of Bloomington to being indicted for aiding a prisoner to escape and malfeasance in office?

Christopher Mandler (b. Apr 23, 1858, d. Dec. 6, 1949) What do you make of a gregarious German cigar maker who loved to sing and dance (with Mathilda, no less) and entertain all within the sound of his voice? Why, just relax and enjoy the show, of course.

Lucy Orme Morgan (b. Jan. 21, 1858 d. Feb. 27, 1944) What kind of a woman, a suffragist and ardent supporter of social support systems, is able to raise funds and keep homes for needy and homeless children up and running during financially strapped times?

Willis Stearles (b. Jan. 21, 1890 d. April 3, 1956) What is truth and what is myth about this World War I veteran, a member of the “Black Devils” regiment and longtime zookeeper at Miller Park? The Griotte will attempt to discover the truth behind the stories in this two-character scene.

Helen Davis Stevenson (b. Sept 17, 1869 d. Nov 16, 1935) How does a socially prominent woman in a rocky relationship with a husband (who is away from home for much of the marriage) cope with raising two strong willed children in an age when the success of her parenting was dependent upon the success of her children?

William Van Schoick (b. Aug. 2, 1829 d. Jul. 24, 1899) He was one of the founders of the Bloomington Pork Packing Co., the largest and most successful meatpacking company in town. How would you like to live in the neighborhood with all those awful smells? How did he deal with running a business that his neighbors hated?

William Richard White (b. Dec. 22, 1844 d. Jul. 10, 1906) How did this man who spent the first eight years of his life in near darkness, become a teacher and prize-winning inventor with 60 patents to his name?

Auditions will be held June 26 from 10 am to 12 pm and 2 to 5 pm and June 27 from 3 to 5 pm at the McLean County Museum of History, 200 N. Main Street in Bloomington. FMI, contact Judy Brown at j.judybrown@verizon.net or call 309-664-0708. Judy notes that she is in particular need of one African-American male between the ages of 40 and 65 and one African-American female, who can be any age. The remaining men and women will need to be adults over 30.

Auditioners are requested to bring a head shot and performance/training vita.

Please note that performance dates are an absolute commitment with no exceptions. Those dates are (weekends) October 2, 3, 9 and 10 from 10 am to 4 pm and (weekdays) October 4 to 7 from 7:30 am to 3:30 pm. There are also two mandatory dress rehearsals, on Thursday, September 30th and Friday, October 1st, with a 4:30 pm call. Rehearsals will be set according to actors’ individual schedules.

The picture at the top shows Sarah Flanders as Nannie McCullough Orme, remembering her young husband William Ward Orme, played by Eddie Saver III, in the 2006 Discovery Walk.

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