Thesis Title

A History of the SMSU Ozarks Spring Interpretation Festival and Its Evolution Into the Ozarks Performance Festival

Date of Graduation

Fall 1993


Master of Arts


Theatre and Dance

Committee Chair

Linda Park-Fuller

Subject Categories

Theatre and Performance Studies


Festivals have played a valuable role in the exploration of oral interpretation and performance studies; however, the festival's function has not been adequately documented. This historical report of the SMSU Ozarks Spring Interpretation Festival yields information that can be used to address the larger issue of the functions, traditions and directions of festivals nationwide. Beginning with the activities leading up to its inception in 1963 under the direction of Leslie Irene Coger, this study examines the festival's first twenty-five years. Reviewed characteristics include: the noncompetitive philosophy, traditional festival activites, critical perspectives and formats, featured guest(s), time frames, themes, and benefits. In addition to presenting opportunities for solo performances of poetry, prose and drama, the SMSU festival placed an emphasis on group performance. Coger chose leaders in the field of interpretation as the festival's featured guests, who facilitated exploration of Readers Theatre. That stylistic development was extensively pursued during the festival's early years and is represented in Coger and Melvin R. White's Readers Theatre Handbook. Structural changes occurred in the festival as changes took place in the discipline of interpretation. Later festivals investigated new questions in various genres and performance areas outside the limits of the traditional interpretation field. Under Linda Park-Fuller's leadership, the festival evolved in 1987 into the Ozarks Performance Festival, allowing participants to examine the performance of literary and non-literary texts with a renewed sense of exploration.


© J. Michael Herndon