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April 22, 2013

Jamison Rhoads presents academic paper at conference in Iowa


Jamison RhoadsTeaming with his mother, Jane Rhoads, Cowley College technical director of theatre Jamison Rhoads recently presented a paper “Bronco Bustin' Cowboys of the Indian Territory - Will Rogers, Pawnee Bill and Tom Mix" at the 40th Annual conference of the National Society for the Preservation of Tent, Folk and Repertoire Theatre in Mt. Pleasant, IA.

The conference was held at the Theatre Museum located as part of the Midwest old Threshers in Mt. Pleasant, IA. The Theatre Museum is a delightful repository of late 19th through the mid-20th century posters, theatre memorabilia, and an extensive collection of historic theatrical scenic curtains.

The paper came about through pure happenstance as Rhoads’ parents were traveling from Tulsa, OK to their home in Wichita, and stumbled upon Pawnee Bill’s ranch and museum just outside of Pawnee, OK. This lead to an idea for an academic paper about the lives and adventures of Oklahoma Cowboys turned entertainers including Will Rogers, Pawnee Bill, and Tom Mix. 

“My mother, Jane Rhoads, has been researching theaters in Kansas for the past 20 years and thought this subject would be fun for us to work on together,” Rhoads said.

The Annual conference of the National Society for the Preservation of Tent, Folk and Repertoire Theatre is a interesting gathering each year of Academics and old “Troupers” who in the 30’s 40’s and 50’s traveled rural America presenting tent theater.  Midwestern Tent Theater as an art form has faded into the past but the conference and the “Theater Museum or Repertoire Americana” that sponsors it strive to keep its memory alive. 

Rhoads and his mother have presented papers at the conference before and because the Oklahomans in their paper preformed in tents all across America, the talk fit the conference theme.

“Overall the experience was very gratifying for me because of the chance to work with my mother and the tremendous opportunity to meet and converse with the old Repertoire actors whose stories are still as vivid today as they were the day they stepped off the stage and packed up their tents for the last time,” Rhoads said. “Experiencing and delving into the history of theater helps me personally to connect to the past and see myself and all other contemporary theater practitioners as a part of a grand unbroken tradition that stretches back through the years. I hope to go back again next year.”