Emeritus Professor of Theater and Speech Communication at Briar Cliff University

Cell Phone: (712)899-7069
Home Phone: (712)277-9396
Email: Richard.poole@briarcliff.edu

Richard Poole is a Fulbright Scholar who has written and lectured extensively both here and abroad on Midwestern Rural Theatre. His topics include medicine shows, tent repertoire, circle stock , airdomes and opera houses. His essays have appeared in Theatre History Studies; The Guide to United States Popular Culture; The Tamkang Review (Taiwan); and Cambridge Guide to American Theatre (2nd Edition). His most recent essays include: “History, Archive; Memory, and Performance: The Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Play as Cultural Commemoration,” which appeared in Enacting History; and “Midwest American Rural Landscapes and the Creation of a Unique Theatre Culture, 1870-1940,” in Theatre History Studies, Volume 32. He is the co-author (with Dr. George Glenn) of The Opera Houses of Iowa (Iowa State Press – 1993). He has recently published (with Dr. Dawn Larsen) American Traveling Tent Theatre, 1900-1940, Rural and Small Town Tent Show Plays Performed in the Midwest (including scripts of popular tent theatricals) – Mellen Press, 2014. He also acts, directs and is a playwright.

The Medicine Show of “The Great Doctor Balthazar T. Archimedes!”
This illustrated lecture traces the development of American medicine shows from colonial times to the present, their pervasive influence then, and their continued impact to this day. Also included in the presentation is a visit from THE GREAT DOCTOR HIMSELF! He demonstrates the devices and tactics used by 19th century medicine men as they plied their wares, touting the MIRACULOUS CURATIVE POWERS of that GOLDEN MAGIC ELIXIR – UNIVERSITATIS RUPIS SPINOZIE! IT MUST BE SEEN TO BE BELIEVED!

“Tent Repertoire, Circle Stock, Airdomes and Opera Houses: Gone but not Forgotten”
This illustrated lecture details the incredible amount of theatre available to rural and small-town Midwest Americans between 1870 and 1940. By 1927, approximately 76 million people were entertained by approximately 400 traveling tent rep troupes. Audiences also witnessed many performances in other venues, such as opera houses, airdomes and circle stock. Basically the history of American theatre is the history of urban theatre. Rural theatre culture, featuring tent theatre, opera houses, airdomes and circle stock, has been marginalized or excluded altogether. This fascinating lecture fills that void and is not just for theatre buffs or even scholars but for all those interested in American culture, especially rural theatre culture. Performances in these venues reveal much about the values of rural America, especially during a formative period in its history.