Area performer to do Walt Whitman show May 18 in Stockholm
STOCKHOLM -- Bringing Walt Whitman’s words to life will be the goal of performer Terry Mesch of Arkansaw, Wis. when he takes the stage at the Pleasant Corner Schoolhouse near Stockholm to present “Sing Me the Universal – A Whitman Monologue” on Sunday, May 18. The performance is free and open to the public.
Mesch will help his audience discover Whitman through the Great American Poet’s own words. Adapted from more than three dozen poems in his monumental work, “Leaves of Grass”, Whitman in this monologue explains his poetry, beliefs, sexuality, objection to war, concern for the environment and his own death.
Mesch has been working for several years on this one-man-performance and is looking forward to finally presenting it to an audience. “I have been performing it for our housecat and living room furniture for several months now and am anxious to finally get to do it for a live audience,” he said. “I need the energy of the audience to get a real ‘feel’ for show; to find out what is working well and what needs more work.” Mesch reported he will be scheduling other performances in the region and has one tentatively scheduled in Durand in mid-summer at the Old Courthouse Museum, which will be a fund raiser for the Pepin County Historical Society.
Mesch said he started the project a decade ago after reading “Leaves of Grass” and a biography of Whitman. “He is a fascinating human being and since so many of his poems are written in the first person, he really tells us a lot about himself,” the performer said. “I feel like I know Whitman pretty well and have selected pieces of his work that are engaging and reveal his essence.”
After reading Whitman’s book the first time, Mesch started again and began marking those poems that appealed to him and would be easily understood by an audience. Whitman was a prolific writer, according to Mesch, “But, not all of his poems are ‘audience friendly’ and some are pretty boring. My challenge was to select those that would make someone want to sit up and listen to what this guy has to say.”
“All the words in the performance are Whitman’s and only Whitman’s,” Mesch said. “Some are poems, or songs as he refers to his works, in their entireties, and some are selected parts of his songs. They are all arranged into a format to reflect certain themes and certain times in Whitman’s life.”
Mesch’s stage experience began in grade school and has continued throughout his life in community theater. He has also been involved behind-the-scenes in writing and producing many shows. He has performed in The Grass Harp, Pygmalion, Brigadoon, Our Town (multiple roles, three different productions), Night of January 16th, You Can’t Take It With You, Ghosts of Broadway (which he wrote, performed in and co-produced), Black Friday and Chapter Two. Regionally, he has performed on stages in Durand, Mondovi, Pepin, Stockholm, Maiden Rock and at the Mable Tainter Theater in Menomonie. He has also developed, written, produced, directed and performed in several readers’ theater productions. Most recently he has developed and performed a one-man show of eclectic poetry entitled This Invading Interpreter.
Mesch said he is not re-enacting or trying to be Whitman on stage. “Rather, I am reading the man’s words and through my interpretive skills and vocalization of those words attempting to bring him into the room. Whitman himself tells us that when we read his words, ‘Be it as if I were with you; be not too certain but I am now with you.’”
The premiere performance of “Sing Me the Universal – A Whitman Monologue” is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 18 at the Pleasant Corner Schoolhouse located at W11798 Pleasant Corner Road, Stockholm, Wis. For more information contact Mesch at 715-285-5659 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about Pleasant Corner Schoolhouse call 715-495-7850 or email at email@example.com.