A Play by David Hassler
Produced & Directed by Joe Gunderman
May 4th Voices: Kent State, 1970 is a one hour radio special, available for free starting in April on PRX.
May 4 Voices: Kent State, 1970 is a one hour radio special, available for free starting in April on PRX.
The May 4th Voices script draws from the May 4 Oral History Project which collects, records and provides access to oral history accounts pertaining to the shootings on the Kent State University campus in 1970 and their aftermath. Founded in 1990 by Sandra Perlman Halem, the Project continues to seek first-person narratives and personal reactions to the events of May 4, 1970.
It seeks accounts from all viewpoints: members of the Kent community; faculty, alumni, staff and administrators who were on campus that day; National Guardsmen, police, hospital personnel; or other persons whose lives were affected by these historical events. The Oral History Project is conducted by Kent State University Libraries’ Department of Special Collections and Archives.
All “voices” in the script have been edited and arranged from these oral history archives, except for the voice of the narrator which is excerpted from a prose poem entitled “May 4: A Remembrance,” written by poet and KSU professor Maj Ragain.
For more information about the 50th commemoration or to learn more about the events of May 4, 1970, please visit: https://www.kent.edu/may4kentstate50.
WKSU Kent, OH—Tuesday, May 4, 7pm
WVPE Elkhart, IN—Mon, April 27 at 9pm
IPR News Interlochen, MI—Fri, May 1 at 1pm
KNPR Las Vegas, NV—Fri, May 1 at 9pm
KTSW San Marcos TX,—Sat, May 2 at 7am
KSFC Spokane, WA—Sat, May 2 at 6pm
KFCF Fresno, CA—Sat, May 2 at 7pm
WESA Pittsburgh, PA—Sun, May 3 at 3pm
KTEP El Paso, TX—Sun, May 3 at 6pm
VPM (formerly WCVE) Richmond, VA—Sun, May 3 at 6pm
WYSO Dayton/Yellow Springs, OH—Sun, May 3 at 6 pm
KUHF Houston, TX—Sun, May 3 at 7pm
WRVO Oswego, NY—Sun, May 3 at 7pm
WGBH Boston MA—Sun, May 3 at 8pm
WHYY Philadelphia, PA—Sun, May 3 at 8pm
WGCU Fort Myers, FL—Sun, May 3 at 8pm
WXXI Rochester, NY—Sun, May 3 at 9 pm
WMRA Harrisburg, VA—Sun, May 3 at 10pm
WKSU Kent, OH—Mon, May 4 at 10am and 7pm
WGCU Fort Meyers, FL—Mon, May 4 at 1pm
WABE Atlanta, GA—Mon, May 4 at 2PM and 11PM
KFSK Petersburg, AK—Mon, May 4 at 3pm
KTOO Juneau, AK—Mon, May 4 at 7 pm
WDDE (WMPH, WMHS) Wilmington/Dover, DE—Mon, May 4 at 8pm
WVXU Cincinnati, OH—Mon, May 4 at 8pm
WCPN Cleveland, OH—Mon, May 4 at 10pm
KUOW Seattle, WA—Mon, May 4 at 11pm
KQED San Francisco, CA—Wed, May 6 at 8pm
KUT Austin, TX—Mon, May 11 at 9pm
WEYE Radio Reading of Goodwill Akron—Sat, May 23 at 11am
WEYE Radio Reading of Goodwill Akron—Sun, May 24 at 11pm
“May 4th Voices: Kent State 1970” was written by David Hassler, and was produced and directed by Joe Gunderman, for WKSU, The Wick Poetry Center at Kent State, and Kent State University.
David Hassler (playwright) directs the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University. He is the author or editor of nine books of poetry and nonfiction, including Red Kimono, Yellow Barn,for which he was awarded Ohio Poet of the Year 2006. His play, May 4th Voices, was published in 2013 by The Kent State University Press along with a Teacher’s Resource Book. A filmed version of the play, which he co-produced with Department of History professor Kenneth J. Bindas, received the 2014 Oral History Association’s Nonprint Format Award. With photographer Gary Harwood he is the author of the documentary book, Growing Season: The Life of a Migrant Community, which received the Ohioana Book Award, the Carter G. Woodson Honor Book Award, and was a Finalist for the Great Lakes Book Award.
Joe Gunderman (producer/director) is a 40-year media voice performer, having done commercials, narrations, presentations and dramas too numerous to count. For eight years he was NPR’s digital underwriting voice and on a lighter note, was the primary voice on Create-a-Card vending machines. He also is a radio producer, and in that capacity has directed both amateur and professional voices for decades and in a wide variety of genres. He has been at WKSU since 1997. This project is special not just because he works at Kent State. One of his sisters, Mary, was on the Commons when the shooting occurred on May 4th. The family didn’t know where she was that day until she showed up at WCUE that evening, where their brother Ralph, who also contributed to this show, was the evening deejay.
In their order of their appearance in the play.
Joe Gunderman (Narrator)
National Voice Artist, Senior Producer at WKSU, Kent
Fred Rose (Student)
Actor / Singer / Musician / Voice Artist, Kent State MFA candidate
Ron West (Student)
Director / Writer / Actor, Kent State Graduate
Natalie Knepp (Student)
Actor, Niece of One of the Kent State Wounded
Mike Kraft (Veteran)
Actor / Writer / Voice Artist
Paul Floriano (Guard)
Actor / Producer / Teacher, Holds an MFA from Kent State
Steve Byrne (Student)
Comedian / Actor / Writer / Director, Kent State Graduate
Matthew Solomon (Guard)
Actor / Voice Artist, Son of Kent State Graduate and Trustee
Greg Violand (Townsperson)
Actor / Singer / Professor, Holds MFA from Kent State
Jeff Richmond (Student)
Composer / Producer, Kent State Graduate
Ralph Gunderman (Faculty)
National Voice Artist / Actor / Writer
Brian Chandler (Student)
Actor / Singer / Teacher / Designer / Stage Manager, Kent State MFA Candidate
Amy Fritsche (Faculty)
Actor / Director, Assoc. Professor of Acting and Musical Theatre at Kent
Marc Jaffe (Student)
Writer / Actor / Comedian
Rebecca Harper (Student)
Actor / Composer / Recording Artist / Writer, Kent State Graduate
Marc Moritz (Townsperson)
Actor / Director / Improv Artist, Holds MFA from Kent State
Tina Fey (Student)
Writer / Actor / Producer
Ryan Scoble (Townsperson)
Actor / Theatre Educator, Kent State MFA Candidate
Chuck Richie (Townsperson)
Actor / Voice & Dialect Coach, Professor Emeritus at Kent State
Jennifer Enskat (Townsperson)
Actor / Voice / Artist / Editor / Producer / Director
Devin Pfeiffer (Townsperson)
Actor, Kent State Student
Rohn Thomas (Guard)
Actor / Director, Professor at Kent State
Dan Hendrock (Townsperson)
Director / Actor / Teaching Artist, Kent State Graduate
The music was written and performed for this production by David Schmoll, (pictued above) Composer / Music Producer
Additional production help from Brian Siewiorek at WYEP, Pittsburgh, Daniel Fox in Los Angeles, and Jon Nungesser and Mark Pennell at WKSU.
The people whose real stories were used for this play were looking back on the events from various ages. At the time of this recording, 50 years on, the youngest would be fairly well along in life. But these stories were collected over a significant number of years, starting when some were still relatively young, although already well removed from 1970. So there is a mix in the sound of the actors, from youth recalled vividly enough to sound young, to age and perspective acquired through decades of reflection.
In gathering actors to portray the Oral Histories this play is drawn from, we relied first on professional experience and an ability to bring authenticity. Secondly, we looked for a connection to Kent State, which has a rich history of training performers both as undergrads in their youth, attracting returning professionals who earned advanced degrees, and those who, in addition to being professional performers, teach here. All of them donated their time and talent to this project. We offer our heartfelt thanks to them.
The content of oral history interviews, written narratives and commentaries is personal and interpretive in nature, relying on memories, experiences, perceptions, and opinions of individuals. They do not represent the policy, views or official history of Kent State University and the University makes no assertions about the veracity of statements made by individuals participating in the project. Users are urged to independently corroborate and further research the factual elements of these narratives especially in works of scholarship and journalism based in whole or in part upon the narratives shared in the May 4 Collection and the Kent State Shootings Oral History Project.