The staged reading of the musical “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater” brought around 80 people to the John Waldron Arts Center on May 11.
Cardinal Stage Company performed the first of its two staged readings of the musical adaptation of the novel of the same name, using the set for the show "Robin Hood," which will run at the Waldron through May 20. The second reading of "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" will be at the Waldron at 7:30 p.m. May 12.
“I’ve read 'Rosewater' and I love the book, so I figured I would check this out,” said Paul Dickerson, who traveled from Cleveland, Ohio, for the Granfalloon: A Kurt Vonnegut Convergence. “I’ve never been to a dramatic reading before, but I would do it again.”
The lights dimmed at 2 p.m. and the chatter throughout the room ceased as pianist Dan Lodge-Rigal began to play.
Nine people walked onstage and began singing about the Rosewater Foundation, a fictional organization started by Eliot Rosewater and created to give sums of money to anyone who comes by his office. Rosewater was played by Garrett Thompson.
“We’ll support you and we’ll serve you herbal tea,” one of the cast members sang.
The story follows Rosewater as he loses his mind, begins drinking, stops drinking and ends up giving his fortune to 57 children whose mothers have said they are part of the Rosewater family.
The powerful vocals of the performers carried the actors throughout their performance, as they had no props, but all carried around binders of what looked like their script.
“I love Kurt Vonnegut and his works,” Megan Branham, line designer and IU graduate student, said. “It’s really interesting, I’m from South Carolina and I’ve always loved Kurt Vonnegut and I didn’t really understand the impact he had until I moved here.”
Following the staged reading of “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater,” was the keynote by Robert Tally titled, “Kurt Vonnegut and America: Granfalloonery and National Identity.”
Some audience members, like senior Jack Alfonso, made their way straight from the staged reading to the keynote downstairs in the Waldron.
“I’ve just been trying to do everything this weekend,” Alfonso said. “I just like Vonnegut a lot and I’m an English student, so I just wanted to take advantage of it.”
Around 60 people attended Robert Tally’s keynote. Tally is a member of the Kurt Vonnegut Society, a professor at Texas State and the author of “Kurt Vonnegut and the American Novel: A Postmodern lconography.”
“In many respects, Vonnegut was a quintessentially American writer, not just a U.S.-born citizen that wrote novels, plays and nonfiction,” Tally said in his keynote. “A writer whose entire career was devoted to exploring the question of just what kind of nation America is, or of what kind of people Americans are.”
Tally discussed ideas from his nove, the subject of granfalloonery and Vonnegut in general – how he got along with his family, his depression and more. He cracked a few jokes about the price of his own novel, saying people should request their library order it and then check it out, so the library, rather than the people themselves, spends the money.
Tally gathered Kurt Vonnegut fans and kept their attention in the small room in the Waldron for about an hour, keeping the crowd attentive by getting them to laugh every few minutes.
“For fans of Kurt Vonnegut — an American who was at the same time a man without a country — we might discover in this harmless granfalloonery a sort of identity worthy of the imagination,” Tally said. “Vonnegut seems to say, ‘make America harmless again.’ This is the key to making America great, and to making great Americans, for that matter.”