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May 4th Voices

Kent State, 1970; A Play

David Hassler

Publication Year: 2013

On May 4, 1970, National Guardsmen occupying the Kent State University campus fired 67 shots in 13 seconds, leaving four students dead. This tragedy had a profound impact on Northeast Ohio and the nation and is credited as a catalyst in changing Americans’ views toward U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Supported by the Ohio Humanities Council, May 4th Voices was originally written and performed as part of a community arts project for the 40th commemoration of the events of May 4th.

The text of David Hassler’s play is based on the Kent State Shootings Oral History Project, begun in 1990 by Sandra Halem and housed in Kent State University Libraries’ Department of Special Collections and Archives. The collection is comprised of over 110 interviews, with first-person narratives and personal reactions to the events of May 4, 1970, from the viewpoints of members of the Kent community; Kent State faculty, students, alumni, staff, and administrators who were on campus that day; and National Guardsmen, police, hospital personnel, and others whose lives were affected by their experience. Weaving these voices and stories together anonymously, Hassler’s play tells the human story of May 4th and its aftermath, capturing the sense of trauma, confusion, and fear felt by all people regardless of where they stood that day.

Directed by Katherine Burke, May 4th Voices premiered on May 2, 2010, on the Kent State University campus. It offered the Kent community an opportunity to take ownership of its own tragic story and engage in a creative, healing dialogue. Now, with the publication of the play and its accompanying teacher’s guide and DVD, May 4th Voices brings to a national audience the emotional truth of this tragedy, connecting it to the larger issues of war, conflict, and trauma. A powerful work of testimony, May 4th Voices offers a new and unique contribution to the literature of the protest movement and the Vietnam era.

Published by: The Kent State University Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. 8-9

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pp. ix-xi

“A small encampment of listeners bending to the hard lessons” is the way a student discussion of Vietnam is described in David Hassler’s May 4th Voices. This is not a play in the conventional sense, but bursts of live feelings ...

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pp. xiii-xv

The idea for May 4th Voices grew out of many conversations and was developed through the creative and collaborative involvement of many people. The play was originally written and performed as part of a larger, multifaceted ...

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pp. 1-3

On May 4, 1970, four students were killed and nine injured on the campus of Kent State University by the Ohio National Guard during a Vietnam War protest. Nearly forty years later, I began work on a play, based on the ...

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Production Notes

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pp. 5-6

May 4th Voices was first performed at Kent State University on May 2, 2010, directed by Katherine Burke, for the 40th annual May 4th Commemoration. The original cast was comprised of Maj Ragain as narrator and ...

Scenes and Characters

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pp. 7-8

Scene One: The Lottery

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pp. 9-18

Scene Two: Something Drastic

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pp. 19-21

Scene Three: The Whole Town is Burning

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pp. 22-30

Scene Four: The Rally

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pp. 31-32

Scene Five: A Veil is Rent

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pp. 33-37

Scene Six: Intensive Care

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pp. 38-41

Scene Seven: Reactionary

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pp. 42-48

Scene Eight: Getting in the Way of Bullets

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pp. 49-54

Scene Nine: Vigil

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pp. 55-60


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pp. 61-62

E-ISBN-13: 9781612776996
E-ISBN-10: 161277699X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781606351659

Page Count: 36
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 859686921
MUSE Marc Record: Download for May 4th Voices