DCPA will adapt Haruf's final novel for the stage

Chris Kendall, Billie McBride and Kathleen McCall read from 'Our Souls at Night' at the Tattered Cover. Photo by John Moore.

Chris Kendall, Billie McBride and Kathleen McCall read from ‘Our Souls at Night’ at the Tattered Cover. Photo by John Moore.

The DCPA Theatre Company will adapt the late Colorado author Kent Haruf’s final book, Our Souls at Night, for the theatrical stage, it was announced tonight at an event related to the release of the book at the Colfax Tattered Cover Book Store.

Cathy Haruf. Associate Artistic Director Bruce K. Sevy delivered the news at a public taping of Colorado Public Radio’s Colorado Matters. Sevy told an overflow crowd that, for the fourth time, playwright Eric Schmiedl will be commissioned to adapt a Haruf novel for the DCPA, following Plainsong, Eventide and Benediction.

A commission is not a guarantee that the play will receive a full production on the Theatre Company’s season. But, Sevy said, that would be the eventual goal. “We always approach them as if they will be produced,” he said.

(Photographed: Above right: Cathy Haruf. Below left: Bruce K. Sevy makes the announcement at the Tattered Cover. Photos by John Moore.)

Bruce K. Sevy makes the announcement at the Tattered Cover. Photo by John Moore. The time between a commission and a fully staged production is typically a minimum of three years. Any future staging would again be directed by DCPA Artistic Director Kent Thompson.

The DCPA Theatre Company adapted and staged Haruf’s Plainsong Trilogy as three live theatrical world premieres over the past decade, culminating with Benediction in February. Our Souls at Night, the story of a man and  woman grappling with their advanced age, is not a part of the Plainsong series, although it is set in the same fictional town of Holt, Colorado.

At tonight’s Tattered Cover event, DCPA actors Chris Kendall, Billie McBride and Kathleen McCall read from Our Souls at Night. Colorado Public Radio’s Ryan Warner then led a discussion with Haruf’s wife, Cathy, and editor, Gary Fisketjon.

Fisketjon referenced a chapter in the book where the primary couple, Addie Moore and Louis Waters, are lying in bed and talking about their fellow Holt neighbor – Kent Haruf. And how his Benediction was about to be staged at the Denver Center. It is a meta moment in which Haruf for the first time essentially establishes himself as a longtime neighbor to his fictional characters living the town he made up.

Sevy already was imagining how that exchange might play out if Our Souls at Night is eventually staged at the Denver Center.

“I love it,” Sevy said. “That moment is going to play like gangbusters. Can you imagine sitting in the theatre and watching these characters talk about seeing Benediction?”

Cathy Haruf said she imagines her husband would be nothing short of delighted to know that his final novel might join his previous works as DCPA Theatre productions.

“He didn’t write any of them to be plays,” she said, “but he was always really pleased with the other productions that they have done. He wanted so badly to make it long enough to see Benediction.” 

Haruf finished Our Souls at Night just days before he passed away in November 2014. Cathy Haruf told the Tattered Cover audience of about 100 that “Kent lost his fear of dying” in writing his final book after he had received a terminal diagnosis for lung disease. “What greater gift could anybody ask for?”

Schmiedl is one of 38 playwrights who have been commissioned by Thompson to write new plays since 2006. A commission essentially gives the DCPA the right of first refusal when it comes to possibly staging the work.

The DCPA NewsCenter interviewed Kent Haruf just five days before he died. You can read the transcript here.

About Our Souls at Night
(Description provided by publisher Alfred Knopf)
To buy the book, click here

A spare yet eloquent, bittersweet yet inspiring story of a man and a woman who, in advanced age, come together to wrestle with the events of their lives and their hopes for the imminent future.

In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf’s inimitable fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis’s wife. His daughter lives hours away in Colorado Springs, her son even farther away in Grand Junction, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in houses now empty of family, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with.

Their brave adventures — their pleasures and their difficulties — are hugely involving and truly resonant, making Our Souls at Night the perfect final installment to this beloved writer’s enduring contribution to American literature.

Selected previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage of Kent Haruf:
DCPA actors to read from Kent Haruf’s final book
Kent Haruf: The complete final interview
Video, photos: DCPA celebrates life of Colorado novelist Kent Haruf
Benediction opens as a celebration of the ‘Precious Ordinary’
DCPA to celebrate Kent Haruf on Feb. 7
Bittersweet opening for ‘Benediction’ rehearsals
Kent Haruf, author of ‘Plainsong’ Trilogy, dies at age 71

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