The World of Carl Sandburg
Flat Rock Playhouse remembers North Carolina’s famous storyteller with summer stage shows through August.
North Carolina writer Carl Sandburg may best be known for his poetry and biography of Abraham Lincoln, but in his 22-year home of Flat Rock, he’s remembered for his stories. Sandburg wrote his children’s book “Rootabaga Stories” for his daughters in 1922. Set in a fictionalized place called Rootabaga Country, where the railroad tracks go from straight to zigzag, where the pigs have bibs on and where the Village of Cream Puffs floats in the wind, the stories are set to musical tunes from Sandburg’s own collection of folk music found in his American Songbag.
Each year, Flat Rock Playhouse, in conjunction with the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, performs Sandburg’s “Rootabaga Stories” along with excerpts from “World of Carl Sandburg,” a Broadway show based on the author’s poetry and writings that starred Bette Davis. These free shows at the Sandburg Home Amphitheater have been running since 1974.
“Performing at the Carl Sandburg Home is one of the highlights of the summer for our apprentice company,” says Vincent Marini, artistic director of Flat Rock Playhouse. “For decades now, we have had a close relationship with our friends and neighbors at Sandburg. We choose our apprentice company from over 1,000 auditionees and I know our ongoing partnership with the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site has been and will continue to be vital to our ability to attract the very best talent in the Southeast.”
“The Flat Rock players are outstanding in their interpretation and presentation of the World of Carl Sandburg and Rootabaga Stories,” adds Tyrone Brandyburg, superintendent of Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site. “They use a variety of techniques, including humor and drama, that I think will reach diverse audiences. Truly excellent performances that will keep you entertained while providing intricate details of the life and works of Carl Sandburg.”
Sandburg enjoyed exploring America, journeying first through the Midwest as a hobo in 1897, selling stereoviews door-to-door in the Northeast and traveling on the first cross-continental jet flight in 1959. His experiences living, working and writing about every day Americans gave his poetry a rugged, individual free verse style and celebrated and consoled people in their environments. Carl Sandburg also collected the songs of America’s past and present, created unique fairy tales based on America’s cultural life of farms, trains and rootabagas and wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Abraham Lincoln. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1951.
Shows run through August 10 at 10:15 a.m. at the park amphitheatre adjacent to the Sandburg Home. “World of Carl Sandburg” is performed on Wednesdays and Fridays, with Rootabaga on Thursdays and Saturdays. Performances are held rain or shine. Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service, is located 3 miles south of Hendersonville, North Carolina, off U.S. 225 on Little River Road. The park is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Main photo courtesy of Flat Rock Playhouse; Sandburg home from National Park Service.