A new play recreates what life was like in small Midwestern towns during the World War II years using stories from interviews, old letters, family lore, and wartime editions of The Columbus (Iowa) Gazette. Written by small town natives Rick Williams and Ron Clark, "A Grateful Nation" will premiere as a script-in-hand performance for two shows only at Riverside Theatre, 213 N. Gilbert Street, Iowa City, Iowa on Sat., Nov. 15, 7:30 p.m. and Sun., Nov. 16 at 2:00 p.m.
Riverdog season pass holders. Veterans, military personnel and their immediate family receive a 20 percent discount off of regular adult-priced tickets as part of Riverside’s Blue Star Theatre Program. Click here for more information, or call the box office at: 319.338.7672.
The events and anecdotes in the play are centered on stories and people from Columbus Junction, Iowa—a town where authors Williams and Clark grew up, about 35 miles southeast of Iowa City .
"Though the majority of the stories we tell are about people in our town, anyone from any town could do the research and uncover similar tales." says Clark, who is also directing the play. Adds Williams, "It would be a stretch to say these stories are universal, but they are certainly national. Every American living in the early 1940s was affected by the events of the war--and so were those of us who came after them."
Professional actors reading from the script will each play multiple characters. The cast includes Jody Hovland, Sean DeMers, Jack Sharkey, and Katherine Slaven. Drew Bielinski will complete the show with lighting and projection design.
Clark and Williams were childhood classmates in Columbus Junction. They eventually migrated to Iowa City, where they have each lived for more than 30 years. Family obligations and work commitments limited their time together.
About a year ago, Williams and Clark were inspired to collaborate on "A Grateful Nation." Writing for theater is nothing new for Clark. He and his wife, Jody Hovland are two of the co-founders of Riverside Theatre. Ron has authored three previous plays, including two about small town Iowa life. Williams is a newcomer to playwriting but is a historian with a journalism background, working as a newspaper reporter before becoming an editor for ACT, where he spent 29 years before retiring.
There will be post-performance talkbacks after both shows with the writers and actors.