‘Of Mice and Men’ play portrays complexities of life

By Amanda Eakin

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>This October, Ashland

University’s Theater Department will be showcasing John Steinbeck’s

“Of Mice and Men,” a novel-turned-play that delves into the nature

of friendship and humanity.

“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   Performances will be Oct. 15, 16, 22

and 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 24 at 2 p.m.

“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   The Oct. 22 performance will be

followed by a talkback, allowing the audience to interact with the

cast for approximately half an hour.

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>  

“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   According to Ric Goodwin, the

director of over 40 productions at AU, talkbacks give audience

members a chance to ask questions.

“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   The idea to have talkbacks started

two years ago when the play the theater department was working on

was particularly controversial.

“mso-spacerun: yes;”> 

“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   Although “Of Mice and Men” is not as

controversial as other plays, it still presents numerous topics

that audience members might feel compelled to discuss.

“mso-spacerun: yes;”> 

“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   After his 26th year directing plays

at AU, Goodwin chose “Of Mice and Men” for various

reasons.

“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   For one, the play addresses issues

with a high potential to connect with the audience.

“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   “It’s a timeless American classic,”

Goodwin said. “With foreclosures, homelessness and joblessness

being a part of our society today, that’s what Steinbeck wrote

about. ‘Of Mice and Men’ goes further in that it has the motifs of

friendship and companionship and loneliness. [It communicates] the

desire to have a piece of land you can call your own. It’s still

the American dream; it’s never been lost.”

“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   Additionally, Goodwin has personal

reasons for wanting to direct “Of Mice and Men.”

“mso-spacerun: yes;”> 

“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   “As a graduate student at the

University of Akron, I chose the character of Lennie as my thesis,

and so I researched the play, novel and Steinbeck very carefully,”

he said. “The more I discovered it, the more strong feelings I had

for the script.”

“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   It was this passion for the novel

that eventually fueled Goodwin’s desire to push for Steinbeck’s

play.

“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   That isn’t to say the production of

the play is without challenges.

“mso-spacerun: yes;”> 

“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   “This has been a very hard show for

me,” senior Sean Smith said. Smith is playing one of the lead roles

as George, a small but intimidating man who has a soft spot for his

mentally disabled friend Lennie.

“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   “It’s taking me so long to get into

the mind of George that it’s making my natural process of an actor

completely different,” Smith said.

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>  He attributed part of this struggle

to the multitude of lines he must memorize in a very limited

time.

“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   “This is happening so quickly; we

were cast, began rehearsals the following week and now we [are]

already opening the show next week!” he said. “It’s crazy how fast

this has flown by.”

“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   According to Smith, the pressure

builds when the show comes together within the week before the

performance, which is almost always the case.

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>  

“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   “Up until then I always feel as if

we may never make the amazing show we are hoping for,” he said.

“But, I always know we will.”

“mso-spacerun: yes;”> 

“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   Like Goodwin, Smith has grown to

truly appreciate the genius of Steinbeck’s play.

“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   “I was impressed at how much detail

and character development Steinbeck fit in such a short novel,”

Smith said.

“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   “Of Mice and Men” perhaps carries

one of the most unexpected plot twists in literature, which is why

those familiar with the story either love it or hate

it.  

“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   “When I first read it, I hated

George so much… You can’t imagine how someone who supposedly cares

so much for his friend could do something so horrible,” Smith

said. 

“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   “It’s hard to portray someone so

callous and uncaring but still allow him to have a solid emotional

core. I think my hardest challenge has been allowing George to care

about Lennie in the way I feel he should, while also staying true

to the script that is written.”

“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   Smith has made a strong effort to

delve into his character’s state of mind.

“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   “As I say George’s lines, I try to

keep an internal dialogue,” Smith said.

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>  “For example, as George says ‘Lennie,

you’re so dumb,’ in my mind I am saying, ‘I am only trying to

protect you.’”

“text-align: justify; margin: 0in 0in 0pt;”>

“line-height: 120%; font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   There is a unique quality to

Steinbeck’s work that is difficult to capture in any sort of

theatrical production.

“font-family:”>

“mso-spacerun: yes;”>   “Steinbeck is a very complicated

writer, as he attempts to put everyday life into a script,” Smith

said.

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.