New Roots on the Rootabaga

Apprentice players are staging new Sandburg-inspired plays at Connemara.

Apprentice players are staging new Sandburg-inspired plays at Connemara.

Carl Sandburg was a poet of vision, and he’d likely smile approvingly at the initiative of the Flat Rock Playhouse 2016 Apprentice Company. The iconic American poet’s final home, a historic site in Flat Rock administered by the U.S. National Park Service, is a destination for traditionalists — the dignified farmhouse “Connemara” is laid out just as it was in its heyday, including dairy goats descended from Lillian “Paula” Sandburg’s original flock.

And yet Sandburg also championed individuality and low-key rebellion. He once famously waxed: “Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”

Just in time for the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary in August, the Apprentices are staging two new plays at Connemara. Debuting new work on such hallowed ground is no small endeavor: For more than 40 years, the seasonal troupe has produced favorite Sandburg-inspired works Rootabaga!, The People’s Poet, Sandburg’s Lincoln, and The Works of Carl Sandburg. However, “we thought that producing original works this year be a great gift to the park — in honor of the Centennial as well as our ongoing partnership and collaboration with the Sandburg Home,” says Flat Rock Playhouse Producing Artistic Director Lisa K. Bryant in a press statement. She and Apprentice Director Ethan Andersen will stage their two new plays — Spink, Skabootch and Swipes in Rootabaga Country and Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Express, respectivelyboth wildly imaginative works aimed for a family audience.

“Don’t miss these brand-new romps,” suggests Bryant. “Children and adults will have a blast. Come play with us.”

Spink, Skabootch, and Swipes shows Wednesdays and Fridays at 10:15am (June 15-August 12), and Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Express shows Thursdays and Saturdays at 10:15am (June 16-August 13). Free.

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