Student playwright recreates The Legend of John Henry

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Student-playwright Brad Pontius, writer of this adaption of The Legend of John Henry. Photo Credit/Brad Pontius
Student-playwright Brad Pontius, writer of this adaption of The Legend of John Henry.
Photo Credit/Brad Pontius

Staff Writer

The IU South Bend Theatre and Dance Company will bring the folktale of John Henry to life with new twists in the annual Michele’s Little Hearts Theatre presentation.

Senior theatre performance major, Brad Pontius, wrote an adaptation of the legendary tale. This will be Pontius’ first play to be put on stage. Pontius has had a previous informal play published a few years ago.

“I have always really like the story. To me, it’s about overcoming adversity and taking on impossible odds,” said Pontius.

In this adaptation, John Henry is trying to save his family’s farm from being taken from the bank. So he uses his super strength to challenge a steam drill in order to keep his job at the railroad company.

The strong message of “you can’t give up and stop fighting” is a really good message for kids, said Pontius. “That is something worth telling so that is why I chose John Henry.”

Pontius has always had a passion for writing and making his own stories but his first year at IUSB was what really motivated him to pursue writing his own plays.

“My first year here I traveled to New York City for the New York Theatre Intensives,” said Pontius. “It was a fabulous program that touches on everything and had a really big playwright part of it.”

Since then Pontius has traveled to Los Angeles and Europe while writing nonstop. Pontius is not planning on doing anymore adaptations in the near future due to his love of making his own stories.

Pontius has just finished a full-length play, which he will read at 7 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Upstage Theater in Northside Hall.

Aside from writing, Pontius is an aspiring actor, starring in more than 10 performances at IUSB.

“I am always going to love writing and making my own stories, but I want to do that on the side and develop new work while I am still young,” said Pontius.

With graduation this May, Pontius has big plans for his future outside of IUSB. He plans on attending the University Resident Theatre Association Conference, which is a theatre graduate school conference. He hopes to study in London for graduate school at E15 Acting School sometime next year.

This summer Pontius will apply for internships for the Broadway Theater in New York City.

The performance will take place at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Feb. 13 in the Campus Auditorium, located in Northside Hall. The whole family is welcome with tickets priced at $3 and proceeds going towards theatre student scholarships.

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