"Plain Paper: Amish News That's Print to Fit"
September 10 and 17
Book by Frank Ramirez
Music by Steve Engle
Lyrics by Frank Ramirez and Steve Engle
Conceived by Richard Pletcher
New Musical to Receive Staged Readings at Amish Acres
The saga continues. The musical “Plain Paper: Amish News That’s Print to Fit” will be presented Sundays September 10 & 17 at 6:00 PM, at the Locke Township Meeting House, the second stage adjacent to The Round Barn Theatre at Amish Acres. In lieu of an admission charge donations will be collected for Family Christian Development Center of Nappanee.
When the Director and Gal Friday of a small television production company arrive in Nappanee to make a reality show “exposing” the truth about the local Amish community, they discover that despite the struggles facing mainstream newspapers nationwide with regards to declining circulation, printer Martin Zook cannot keep up with the demand for his weekly Amish newspaper, “The Vision.”
Zook has just hired Hyrum Yoder, a young Amish widower whose wife died when her buggy was hit by a drunk driver. Zook knows Hyrum needs the extra money to buy a new farm before he marries Lily Bontrager. Lily had not yet married because she’d been taking care of her aging parents. No one else in the Amish community is interested in cooperating with the TV producers -- but Hyrum is tempted, because the money is too good to turn down.
The paper -- and the show -- is tied together by Amish scribes from across the country who write letters describing local activities to be printed in “The Vision.” Four of these scribes are seen throughout the show chronicling the events they witness, keeping Amish informed about what their brothers and sisters are doing across the country.
The show was conceived by Round Barn Executive Producer Richard Pletcher, who asked himself: In an era where print media struggles -- some say it is dying -- why do several well-known Amish weekly newspapers published from Indiana to Pennsylvania and Ohio to Ontario thrive? What does this say about the permanence of Amish culture, and what does it say about the larger American society as well?
In 2014 Pletcher shared these questions with his friend Frank Ramirez, who had recently moved back to resettle in Elkhart County as the Senior Pastor of the Union Center Church of the Brethren. The two considered exploring the answers together through a play which has now become a musical. Ramirez in turn contacted his writing partner, composer Steve Engle of Alexandria, Pennsylvania, which whom he had co-authored four other musicals.
After two years of writing, composing, and consulting with each other, a first workshop production was produced in July of 2016, performed at the Union Center Church of the Brethren, featuring a cast of more than 30 adults and children. The three performances before over 550 people were well received. A series of conversations between Frank Ramirez, Richard Pletcher, Steve Engle, and the Round Barn’s Artistic Director Amber Burgess followed, seeking to tighten the focus of the plot as well as to clean up inconsistencies and red herrings, and to craft a new title.
The staged readings by the theatre’s professional acting company are the next step in development before mounting another full scale production in 2018.
General seating tickets can be reserved in advance by calling 800-800-4942 or through www.amishacres.com.