Main Street Players Theatre offers River of Tears

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Tale of Sac and Fox people opens April 21 at Galena theater

GALENA—Main Street Players Theatre Company of Galena will open its 2006 season with the historical drama River of Tears.

River of Tears tells the story of the Sac and Fox people, and what happened to them when they tried to return to their homeland near Rock Island in 1832. This is the time we know as the Black Hawk War.

Sixteen middle and high school youth from Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin have come together under the direction of Galena attorney Philip Jackman to tell the story of Chief Black Hawk and his people, as they fled north into Wisconsin, ultimately to where the Bad Ax enters the Mississippi River, at what is now known as Victory, Wis.

Earlier this month, the cast was visited at rehearsal by Kay Rhodes, principal chief of the Sac and Fox Nation. She was traveling in their area on tribal business, and took time out of her schedule to pay a visit to the cast and speak with them.

Chief Rhodes is the great, great, great granddaughter of Black Hawk. She told the students that she and her tribe were honored they were presenting the story, and presented the cast with a tribal flag to display in the theater lobby during the show.

Chief Rhodes posed for pictures with the cast and autographed their scripts. The cast then performed the final scenes from the show for her, depicting the battle at Bad Ax.

Chief Rhodes found the presentation to be quite moving, and told the cast she would try to be back for the opening night performance April 21. She also said that if she were able to be present, she would try to be in her Sac and Fox regalia.

River of Tears, written by Cassville, Wis., playwright Mike Willis, tells the story of the Sac and Fox through the spirits of the braves, squaws and children who accompanied Black Hawk during this time. He conducted meticulous research in the military journals and diaries to present a historically accurate picture of what took place in 1832.

Main Street Players will also have a special opening act for River of Tears. Abraham Lincoln re-enactor Kevin Koester of Lancaster, Wis., will speak to the audience about his service in the Illinois Militia during the Black Hawk War. No other Lincoln re-enactor has ever addressed this part of Lincoln’s life, and Koester has created new material for his portrayal, specifically for this show.

The Main Street Players performs at the Sinsinawa Mound Theater north of Galena, Ill. Performance dates are April 21-22 and 28-29 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, April 23 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. Reservations, information and directions to the theater can be obtained by calling MSP at 815-777-ARTS.

From the April 19-25, 2006, issue

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