Green-Wood Cemetery to host a play about the dead

June 15, 2011 Heather Chin
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Cemeteries are usually regarded as dark and gloomy places whereonly somber reflection and tributes to the dead take place. But atthe 153-year-old Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, being the finalresting place for over 561,000 people is an opportunity tocelebrate their lives while reflecting on our own.

That is why, from June 15 to June 26, the Green-Wood Historic Fundwill transform the burying place into one Spoon River, thefictional small town at the center of American poet Edgar LeeMasters’ 1915 masterpiece, The Spoon River Anthology. Adapted forthe stage, The Spoon River Project will bring to life theafter-life ruminations, regrets and confessions of dozens of SpoonRiver’s former residents, including stone-cutter Richard Bone andpoetess Minerva Jones.

Imagine sitting in a Victorian cemetery on a beautiful summer’snight when the residents who live in the cemetery begin appearingin the distance, assemble in front of you, and one by one divulgethe secrets their lives held, described playwright/director TomAndolora on the project’s website. If you want to know what lifeis about, listen to the dead.

The period drama was adapted by Andolora, a Brooklyn Collegeprofessor who originally worked on the monologues as an actingexercise with students. It will feature 11 actors and threemusicians in period costumes, performing by torchlight, withmusical staging by Broadway veteran Jeffry Denman. Songs willinclude Shall We Gather at the River, Softly and Tenderly, andIn The Gloaming.

We’re not telling ghost stories. It’s an actual piece of theaterthat happens to take place in a cemetery, noted Andolora. [Theanthology] is a beautiful piece of American literature, so if Icould introduce people to the book, that’s very exciting to me.Green-Wood itself becomes a character in the play, as Spoon RiverCemetery.

The Project is the latest event to take advantage of Brooklynites’fascination with the eerie, yet beautiful, allure of Green-Wood,from moonlight walking tours to performances of angels dancingamidst the gravestones, to support a cemetery rich with history,but that must maintain the public’s interest and support in orderto survive.

When Tom first approached us about the project, we knew right awaythat this could make for a very unique experience and one we’d beproud to present, said Green-Wood President Richard J.Moylan.

Guests at The Spoon River Project will travel by trolley into the478 acres, to a section populated by oak trees and graves from theCivil War era. Tickets are $20 for Historic Fund members and $25for the general public. Midnight showings are $30 in advance and$35 at the door, and include a tour of the Green-Wood Catacombs.Participants must be 15 years or older.

For more information or to make reservations, visitwww.green-wood.com/toursevents or call 718-768-7300.


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