Northern Illinois University

NIU Office of Public Affairs

News Release

Contact: David W. Booth/Carita Giles, NIU School of Theatre and Dance
(815) 753-1337

October 8, 2007

NIU School of Theatre and Dance
presents the Great War in poetry

DeKalb — World War I from the perspective of poets and songwriters is the theme of the first production of the Northern Illinois University School of Theatre and Dance 2007-8 Studio Series. “Pro Patria Mori” will be presented in six acts and will run in the Stevens Building Corner Theatre beginning Oct. 11. 

“Pro Patria Mori,” Latin for “for fatherland to die,” presents the writing of many well-known poets, songwriters and lyricists of the early twentieth century, including Rudyard Kipling, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, Ernest Hemingway, Yvan Goll, Giuseppe Ungaretti, Robert Graves, Eric Bogle, W.B. Yeats, A.E. Housman, Sybil Barstowe, Madeline Ida Bedford and others.

The poetry and songs are the collected responses to the events and emotional experiences of The Great War. Each of the six acts displays a different perspective of war, from the participants to the observers, and from the glory, to the laughing in the face of fear, to the grim reality.

NIU faculty members Stanton Davis and Deborah Robertson co-direct the show. Stanton and Robertson felt this was a great introduction to the department for the students and a great project for them. 

“We are very lucky to work with poetry,” Robertson says. “The play is bringing history and beautiful poetry to life. There is a great emphasis on language and context of the past brought to the present with this collection.” 

For impact, the directors have chosen to use no scenery. They have challenged the cast, mostly freshman, along with two sophomores and two seniors, to convey through body movement and the sound characteristics of voice how the first world-wide war affected entire cultures and societies across the globe. Robertson says, “This play examines the insider’s view of the war and how warfare ultimately provides no solutions.”

“Pro Patria Mori” runs in the Stevens Building Corner Theatre from Thrusday, Oct. 11, through Sunday, Oct. 14. Performances are 7:30 p.m. weekdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $5 and available only at the door. Additional information is available on the school’s Web site at

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