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For Immediate Release

The Poetry Foundation Sponsors Chicago Series of Staged Verse Readings

February 16th, 2005

Chicago—The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is pleased to announce the premiere of Poetry on Stage, a new series of dramatic readings of verse plays. The first production in the series, T.S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral, will be presented in April on five succeeding nights at five Chicago-area churches. All productions start at 7:30 P.M.

Monday, April 4
Old Saint Patrick's Church
700 W. Adams Street

Tuesday, April 5
Rockefeller Memorial Chapel
5850 S. Woodlawn Avenue

Wednesday, April 6
The Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago
Michigan Avenue at Delaware

Thursday, April 7
Saint Pauls United Church of Christ
2335 N. Orchard

Friday, April 8
St. Chrysostom's Episcopal Church
1424 N. Dearborn

Jeff Award-winning actor Nicholas Rudall, in the role of Thomas Becket, will be joined by a cast of eleven leading Chicago actors. Bernard Sahlins, legendary co-founder of The Second City, is director and producer of the series. Each performance will be followed by a discussion of the play led by former Chicago Tribune chief theatre critic Richard Christiansen.

Subsequent productions, at venues to be announced, will include Seamus Heaney's new version of Antigone entitled The Burial at Thebes, Molière's The School for Husbands, and Archibald MacLeish's JB.

"Besides stimulating interest in the wonderful world of verse drama," John Barr, president of The Poetry Foundation, said, "our goal is to encourage more work in this genre by theaters and playwrights."

Murder in the Cathedral deals with the conflict between Henry II and Thomas Becket, his one-time chancellor and drinking buddy. Henry, seeking to control the church and its revenues, appointed Becket as Archbishop of Canterbury. But once in his new office Becket fought for the church's autonomy, a move that he knew would enrage Henry and lead to disaster.

"We are extremely pleased to be working on this project with Bernard Sahlins who has directed so many productions of this type," said Stephen Young, the Foundation's program director. "This is a work that plays wonderfully in churches, which of course provide this play with its natural setting."

For its soaring poetry and dramatic excitement, Murder in the Cathedral is considered to be Eliot's finest dramatic work.

Tickets are $20.00 for general admission and $10.00 for seniors and students. For additional ticket information and reservations call The Poetry Foundation at (312) 787.7070.


The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It has embarked on an ambitious plan to bring the best poetry before the largest possible audiences. In the coming year, the Foundation will sponsor a recitation contest in the schools, a major new poetry website, and an unprecedented study to understand poetry's place in American culture.

Founded in Chicago by Harriet Monroe in 1912, Poetry is the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world. Harriet Monroe's "Open Door" policy, set forth in Volume I of the magazine, remains the most succinct statement of Poetry's mission: to print the best poetry written today, in whatever style, genre, or approach. The magazine established its reputation early by publishing the first important poems of T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, H. D., William Carlos Williams, Carl Sandburg, and other now-classic authors. In succeeding decades it has presented—often for the first time—works by virtually every significant poet of the 20th century.

Poetry has always been independent, unaffiliated with any institution or university—or with any single poetic or critical movement or aesthetic school. It continues to print the major English-speaking poets, while presenting emerging talents, in all their variety. In recent years, more than a third of the authors published in the magazine have been young writers appearing for the first time. On average, the magazine receives over 90,000 submissions per year, from around the world.

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