‘The Wreck Of The Columbia’ Story Comes To The Stage

Alpha Media/Ken Zurski

A local author’s book has made its way to the stage.

Alpha Media Peoria’s Ken Zurski published the book ‘The Wreck of the Columbia’ in 2012.

The book chronicles the July, 1918 sinking of the steamboat ‘Columbia’ in the Illinois River near Pekin. 87 people lost their lives in the crash.

Zurski’s book is subject of a play called ‘Broken Beauty, The Wreck of the Steamer Columbia’.

“It was a newspaper writer’s description of what it was, and what it looked like after the wreck. He called it the ‘broken beauty’. So, they used that for the play,” said Zurski.

The play’s performers tell the story in a ‘readers theater’ format.

“They come up and they read the testimonies and monologues of the characters. And, on a large screen, there is a picture representation of that character, and a description of that character,” said Zurski.

Zurski tells WMBD’s Greg and Dan that he and his family attended the debut of ‘Broken Beauty’ over the weekend in Lake Zurich, Illinois, home of the play’s writer Mark Henry Larson.

“I really didn’t know what to expect. But, as I watched, I started to remember when I first found these (character’s) names in the newspaper articles, and the time when I was writing. It was a bit emotionally overwhelming,” said Zurski.

Zurski says the idea to turn his book into a play hatched when his publisher and writer Mark Henry Larson where discussing new books at a Chicago Cubs game several years ago.

“He contacted me. We signed a few papers. And, three years later, this was the debut performance,” said Zurski.



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