November 04, 2019

Performance will examine ‘flyover country’

by Jason Franchuk

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale doctoral student Anna Wilcoxen is set to bring the Midwest to the limelight.

A play that Wilcoxen has written and directed —and also will perform in — will dissect the stereotypes about what is often referred by people on both American coasts as “flyover country.”

“Inheritance of a Flyover” will run Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 7-9, as part of the Marion Kleinau Theatre’s performance season. The shows, in the Communications Building Marion Kleinau Theatre, begin at 8 p.m. and there is no admittance once the performance begins.

The performance includes mature themes.

This one-person show invites the audience to join as various characters rummage through their histories in an attempt to re-story the stories of their “flyover” upbringing, while exploring whose stories are “worth” telling.

“What inspired me to write this was, first and foremost, my love of the Midwest, which was something I didn't always have,” Wilcoxen said. “I think one of the things that I'm trying to grapple with in this show is the contrast and similarities between the national narrative of the Midwest and the regional understanding of ourselves within that national narrative.”

Where truth meets fiction

The show follows a struggling writer named Vernice who has a bachelor's degree in creative writing and is dealing with getting an avalanche of rejection letters in response to her writing submissions. So she decides to rifle through her belongings that are stored in boxes to look for inspiration. One of the things she stumbles on is a play she wrote when she was 19.

Wilcoxen said hopes that in addition to having fun, the audience learns something about the Midwest and gains perspective of how some people experience the region.

“I hope the audience has fun,” she said. “If nothing else, I want the audience to come willing to have a good time and laugh at the silliness and be present with the more earnest moments, too. One of the themes of this show is that art should be fun and experimental and messy and imperfect at times, I just hope people come willing to embrace the playfulness of the show.”

Admission is $7; $5 for students with ID. For reservations, call 618/453-5618