When the world premiere of “Happy Birthday, Wanda June” hits the Indianapolis Opera in September, it will mark the culmination of a play more than 20 years in the making.
Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Clark, a professor at
Butler University, began work on the project in the early 1990s. Their work on
the play came to an abrupt halt in 2007, when Vonnegut passed away. Clark
eventually continued, and the play was completed this year on Valentine’s Day.
Clark said that the collaboration between himself and
Vonnegut is something he will cherish forever.
“Kurt would leave me a message on my answering machine: ‘I
think Col. Looseleaf Harper needs to be a bass; I think Harold Ryan should be a
baritone; all the decent characters need to be in the high range, so Dr.
Woodley must be a tenor,’” Clark said. “It was always on his mind. But he was
always so casual about it, and I never thought we would lose him so early, in
such a stupid, horrible manner.”
“Happy Birthday, Wanda June,” which is approximately two hours in length, will be presented at
Butler’s Schrott Center of the Arts Sept. 16-18.
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