The Masque of Illinois

The Masque of Illinois

“There has come to us of this generation the opportunity and privilege of celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of the admission of our state into the Federal Union” -- Report of the Illinois Centennial Commission, 1920. p. 24

Part 1. The Masque of Illinois.
The State of Illinois celebrated its Centennial throughout 1918. As part of its Centennial celebrations, the state of Illinois commissioned a musical celebration of the founding of Illinois. The music of the pageant was composed by Edward C. Moore with lyrics by Wallace Rice, and was published by C. C. Birchard and Company as Music of the Masque of Illinois. The music was intended to be used with a script by Grace Arlington Owen, entitled The Wonderful Story of Illinois. It was published by the State of Illinois.

Wallace Rice, incidentally, designed the City of Chicago flag, the familiar four stars and two bars designs. By a unanimous vote on April 4, 1917, Chicago’s aldermen approved Wallace Rice’s design for municipal flag.

The Masque was intended “for the use of High Schools, Colleges, and Communities.” It is unkown how many high schools or communities performed this rather complicated work; however, on August 26, 1918, the Illinois Centennial Commission presented the official state performance of the Masque at the Coliseum of the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.

The Centennial of the State of Illinois, p. 422.

The cast of this performance contained some impressive cast members. The character of The Spirit of Illinois was played by Florence Lowden, daughter of Governor Frank Lowden and granddaughter of industrialist George M. Pullman. The Prologue was read by General Frank S. Dickson, congressman and Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard.

Performers playing (from left to right) England, Illinois, Belgium, America, and France, the 1918 production.

The program for the Masque called it “an attempt, believed to be the first of its kind ever made, to interpret by means of symbol and allegory the 245 years (1673–1918) of the history of the Illinois Country.”

Set in 1918, the Masque makes numerous references to the First World War.

The Centennial of the State of Illinois, p. 424.

The full staging of the Masque involved a large cast with elaborate stage instructions:

During the official presentation in August, 1918, the cast numbered more than 200 people:


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