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Springfield Native's Book on the Lives of Homeless Youth Featured in Dramatic Reading

(photo courtesy

Moon City Press, a non-profit publisher based in the English Department of Missouri State University, invites the public to a dramatic reading from a new book they’ve published, Throwaway Youth: Stories of Springfield's Homeless Teens, by Springfield native Nancy Fairbank.  It's TONIGHT (Friday Sept. 2nd) from 7:00 to 8:30pm in the Auditorium of the Springfield-Greene County Library Center, 4653 S. Campbell.   Nancy Fairbank and her longtime mentor, Dr. James Baumlin from the MSU English Department, appeared live on Arts News this morning to talk about it.

Nancy was a student in the International Baccalaureate program at Central High School and is now a senior at University of Texas-Dallas, studying political science.  Her book, featuring stories of five homeless teenagers in Springfield told in their own words, was several years in the making. “I started the book,” Nancy says, “when I was at Central High.  It began with interviews I took from youth who were at Rare Breed, at the Basic Needs Center. So that was the very beginning of all of this. But actually my interest in working with homeless youth began when I took a Broadcast Journalism class at Central, and my partner suggested The Rare Breed as the topic for a short documentary that we were going to make.  So that was the origin (of the book), when I was in high school.  And then I’ve worked for the last four years to help the book come together, along with Dr.Baumlin, of course.”

The book, says Nancy, “shares the life stories of five homeless teens talking about their experiences: about how they became homeless, what life was like when they were homeless, what challenges they faced, and then what their hopes for the future are.”  So how have those five teens fared in the meantime?  Unfortunately, Nancy isn’t sure. “One thing that’s very difficult in working with homeless youth is that they are incredibly hard to keep track of and keep up with, because of how often they move, because they have unstable living situations.  So unfortunately, I’ve had issues keeping up with these youth.  However, it’s really exciting to see that many of the youth that utilized the Rare Breed services go on to get their G.E.D., attend college, and be able—with the support of the Rare Breed programs—to get themselves off the streets and in a more stable situation.”

Performing dramatic readings from Nancy’s book will be students from the MSU theater group “Giving Voice,” directed by Dr. Carol Maples.  MSU Distinguished Professor of English Dr. Jim Baumlin credits Dr. Maples with coming up with the idea of creating dramatic adaptations of the homeless teens’ stories.

“How do we translate our lives into an art of living? The way that we see the students perform these stories is going to highlight that.  One of the glories of being in the College of Arts and Letters at Missouri State University is that I have such wonderful colleagues, who are able to lend the talents of their students to an event like this.  I have a wonderful colleague in Dr. Maples.”  Dr.Baumlin gave Dr. Maples an advance copy of Nancy’s book.  “I thought that she was going to simply cut it up and do some readings. But instead she took it and made it into something unique.”  He refused to divulge on the air exactly what Dr. Maples’ students will be doing with the material, but he did say this:  “I will make a prediction: it will blow the audience away!”  Performing the dramatic reading will be the MSU theatre group "Giving Voice," directed by Dr. Maples.

Greene County Commissioner Roseann Bentley will give the opening remarks, and the evening will also include songs from "Rent" and arias from "La Boheme" performed by members of the MSU Opera Workshop, directed by Dr. Ann Marie Daehn.  Nancy Fairbank will conduct a Q and A session with the audience and sign copies of the book.  The event is free and open to the public; copies of the book will be available for purchase, with profits from book sales benefiting The Kitchen, Inc.  For information contact the MSU English Department at 836-6565, or the Library Center at 882-0714.

Randy Stewart joined the full-time KSMU staff in June 1978 after working part-time as a student announcer/producer for two years. His job has evolved from Music Director in the early days to encompassing production of a wide range of arts-related programming and features for KSMU, including the online and Friday morning Arts News. Stewart assists volunteer producers John Darkhorse (Route 66 Blues Express), Lee Worman (The Gold Ring), and Emily Higgins (The Mulberry Tree) with the production of their programs. He's also become the de facto "Voice of KSMU" in recent years due to the many hours per day he’s heard doing local station breaks. Stewart’s record of service on behalf of the Springfield arts community earned him the Springfield Regional Arts Council's Ozzie Award in 2006.