Wednesday January 28, 2015: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room
Interweaving past and present, private anecdote and public record, Ann Arbor author Leslie Stainton's new book Staging Ground: An American Theater and Its Ghosts captures the history of one of America’s oldest and most ghosted theaters—the Fulton Theatre in Lancaster, Pennsylvania—and recounts the story of a nation’s tumultuous struggle to invent itself.
This event features a short reading from the book by Stainton followed by a conversation with Jim Leija (UMS), Martin Walsh (actor and U-M instructor) and Leigh Woods (actor and U-M theater professor). The event includes a book signing and books will be for sale.
Built in 1852 and in use ever since, the Fulton Theatre in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is uniquely ghosted. Its foundations were once the walls of a colonial jail that in 1763 witnessed the massacre of the last surviving Conestoga Indians. Those same walls later served to incarcerate fugitive slaves. Staging Ground explores these tragic events and their enduring resonance in a building that later became a town hall, theater, and movie house--the site of minstrel shows, productions of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," oratory by the likes of Thaddeus Stevens and Mark Twain, performances by Buffalo Bill and his troupe of "Wild Indians," Hollywood Westerns, and twenty-first-century musicals.
Interweaving past and present, private anecdote and public record, Stainton unfolds the story of this emblematic space, where for more than 250 years Americans scripted and re-scripted their history.
Staging Ground sheds light on issues that continue to form us as a people: the evolution of American culture and faith, the immigrant experience, the growth of cities, the emergence of women in art and society, the spread of advertising, the flowering of transportation and technology, and the abiding paradox of a nation founded on the principle of equality for "all men," yet engaged in the slave trade and in the systematic oppression of the American Indian.
This event is co-sponsored by the U-M Institute for the Humanities, and the Ann Arbor Book Festival, and the U-M Library in collaboration with UMS and AADL