Arts & Events
Carson McCuller’s THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING opens in Hayward on June 7 at the Douglas Morrison Theatre (formerly Hayward Little Theatre). It’s an opportunity to see a seldom produced theatre classic. It runs through July 1.
The long-time community theatre has upped their game and is approaching semi-pro status with more serious pieces and more accomplished talent.
Carson McCullers herself adapted her novel for a Broadway production directed by Harold Clurman. It won the Best Play Award from the New York Drama Critics in 1950 and ran for 501 performances. The cast included Ethel Waters, Julie Harris, and Brandon deWilde. It was made into a film in 1952 with the same cast.
It is about the angst of Frankie Addams, a tall, gawky, lonely, isolated, motherless, socially inept, Southern girl on the verge of adolescence.
It takes place over a few days in late summer of near the end of World War Two.
Her mother died giving birth to Frankie and her father is a distant, uncomprehending figure. Her closest companions are the family's African American maid, Berenice Sadie Brown, and her six-year-old cousin, John Henry West.
Her ungainly attachment to her soldier brother and his new bride, her social isolation her difficult relationship with the African-American housekeeper, and her search for her sexual identity are the core conflicts in the play.
Artistic director Susan E. Evans (formerly of the highly regarded Eastenders Repertory Company) chose “The Member of the Wedding” in a season of “family portraits” that includes “Grey Gardens” and Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons.”
Ms. Evans noted, “I did a search on Dramatists Play Service website and we are the only producer that shows up this year [doing] The Member of the Wedding,”
She drew some conclusion on the reasons for this: “It isn't a neat play with the moral tied up with a bow at the end. It is not really a feel-good play in the way you walk out the door feeling like justice can happen in the world if we stand up for what's right.”
Evans explained her draw to the play: “In The Member of the Wedding the race issues are very real, disturbing, unresolved. And the three main characters are a tweener girl, struggling with issues of identity, a strong black woman and a delicate little boy, not quite of this world. Altogether a different kind of family….”
Directing is Eric Fraisher Hayes who is also the Artistic Director of Role Players Ensemble, and is an accomplished actor and director: MFA from DePaul, acted with Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago and the Magic here. Lately, he's directed Mourning Becomes Electra, Laura, and The Mikado.
Another reason for the producing difficulty is finding a lead that understands the issues and still looks young enough to plays the role; Julie Harris was 24 when she created the role.
Playing Frankie is Katy Hidalgo of Hayward who studied acting at Chabot College.
“Katy is 23; she has this rare elfin quality of seeming like an adult and a child at the same time,” Hayes remarked in a phone interview. “I’ve cast 11 year cherubic Ruby Buckwalter from Albany to play John Henry, the young boy.”
Alexaendrai Bond of Oakland plays Berenice, the housekeeper and caretaker of Frankie.
Cast members include Joe Fitzgerald of El Cerrito, Dorian Lockett of Richmond, Cornell White-Cockrell of Oakland, Alex Skinner of Alameda, Alisha Erhlich of El Cerrito, Hallie Frazer of Alameda, Bessie Zolno of Oakland, Sami Cowan of Castro Valley, and Dillon Aurelio-Perata of San Ramon.
DMT is a little difficult to find, but it may be worth it for a chance to see something that doesn’t come ‘round that often. The Douglas Morrisson Theatre is located at 22311 N Third Street, Hayward, CA, right next to the Senior Center and the Japanese Gardens
To find out some fascinating background on Carson McCullers that informs the appreciation of this play and all her work, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carson_McCullers for a quick read.
For more information or tickets go to http://dmtonline.org/ or call Tuesday thru Friday, 12:30 to 5:30pm, at (510) 881-6777
Look for the “Eye from the Aisle” review of THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING in early June.