September 18, 2015

Friends of Morris Library Gala weekend is Oct. 3-4

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Original theater of historical significance combined with fine dining is in store for participants in the 2015 Friends of Morris Library Gala weekend at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. 

The annual gala is set for 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 3 in the first floor rotunda and the Hall of Presidents at Morris Library. The reception will feature wine, hors d’oeuvres and an original production of “Buffoons, Babes and Bastards.” The play by Lori Merrill-Fink, associate professor of theater and director of the University Honors Program, is based on vaudeville scripts from the historic Sherman Theatre Collection, housed in the library’s Special Collections. 

Sarah Blackstone, professor of theatre history at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, will also speak.  She will share how she discovered the significance of the Sherman Theatre Collection while teaching at SIU previously. 

The collection, predominately American melodramas, includes play manuscripts copyrighted by the Chicago Manuscript Co. between 1871 and 1938, many of which are complete with diagrams, property lists, costume details and other notes. There are also numerous boxes of actors’ notes for other plays and radio and television drama scripts from 1922 to 1950, many of which were written by Robert Sherman. Correspondence, contracts, photos and other items compiled by Sherman, a longtime theater manager, are also included. 

Following the presentation, those in attendance will be able to visit with Merrill-Fink, Blackstone and the actors from the play. The menu for the event includes petite beef duxelle encroute, smoked salmon canapés, prosciutto and cheese cucumber, tomato and basic bruschetta, mini croissant sandwiches, spanakopita and Mediterranean tapas. 

The Friends of Morris Library will also host a brunch at 11 a.m. on Oct. 4 in the first floor rotunda and the Hall of Presidents at Morris Library.  Blackstone will make a presentation about the various theater collections held in SIU’s Special Collections. An exhibit will highlight some of the other treasures in Morris Library’s Theater Collections. 

Tickets are $75 each for the Oct. 3 reception and $35 per person for the Oct. 4 luncheon. Both events are open to the public but advance reservations are necessary. 

Business attire is suitable for both events and reservations are due Friday, Sept. 25.  To purchase tickets, contact Kristine McGuire at 618/453-1633 or by email at  

Proceeds will benefit the Friends of Morris Library Fund, used to support Morris Library’s educational mission.