Thursday, September 18th and Friday September 19th, 7:00 p.m. at Kaufman Auditorium.
An original play written by Tyler Tichelaar, directed by Moire Embley; with musical direction by Jeff Bruning.
His name Will is synonymous with the sheer will it took for him to survive his late boyhood years to the age of 32. In early adolescence his soft tissues were becoming hard, gradually turning him into a living statue. Physicians of the day were baffled. Soon his legs had stiffened and he could no longer walk without crutches. As he grew, the paralysis went higher, so that by his mid-teens he was confined to a customized portable couch. His face remained the only part of his body that still moved.
Others faced with such a dark future might have felt sorry for themselves and turned inward. Not so for Will. His disease brought about a creative burst of energy. Playing on his strengths in music, art and literature he created satirical sketches of Marquette’s social elite. At the age of 18 he founded his own illustrated magazine called “Chips,” a reference to the wooden sculpture behind the Harlow home which Will identified with. He also wrote a book Old Saws With New Teeth, in which he rewrote old proverbs with a humorous twist. He founded and edited a newspaper in 1906, the Marquette Chronicle, writing an article each day in spite of the additional disability of progressive blindness. His lifelong friend Norma Ross helped him write and compose an original opera Miss D.Q. Pons; he would hum melodies and she would write them down.
His powerful story shows the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. Creativity and humor trump mortality. When interviewed by the Detroit Free Press while his opera was touring the Upper Peninsula, he told the reporter: “Don’t call me a cripple when you write your story, and don’t say I am bedridden. I don’t like those expressions. They put a fellow off you know…Had it been otherwise,” he joked, “I might have become the subject of a trust investigation committee or a bank president. And I’d rather be literary than sordid any day.”
His story is as inspiring today as it was 100 years ago. With a stellar cast and direction, this will be a “do not miss” event! “Willpower” is funded in part by The Michigan Humanities Council, Marquette Community Foundation, UPHP and the Marquette Regional History Center. Tickets are $15.00 in advance and $20.00 at the door, please contact the NMU EZ Ticket Outlet. www.nmu.edu/tickets or call 906-227-1032 Please visit marquettehistory.org, call 906-226-3571 or like us on FB for more information.