by Karen Kohler
This weekend Theatre RC is putting on “The Children’s Hour,” written by Lillian Hellman. The show opens on Feb. 24 and runs through Feb. 26, all shows at 7:30 p.m. with free admission for students! This show does cover heavy themes of homophobia and suicide, so please keep that in mind before going to see it.
This play also has limited seating because it takes an interesting approach and is set up so that the audience is seated on the stage and can feel more immersed in the story. The technique works well for a play like this because it is very character heavy, and director Danielle Barre described the experience as being “voyeuristic.” “The Children’s Hour” is Barre’s first production here, and based on an early sneak peek, she has done an amazing job!
This particular play was selected by students last semester by way of committee and was advocated for by student dramaturg Tess Weidenkopf, who was also a lead in the play along with Sarah Jane Ruppert. “The Children’s Hour” follows two women running an all girls boarding school in the 1930s. The two women are close friends, and a problematic student tells an unfounded lie that the two women are in a romantic relationship with each other.
“The play is about a lie,” said Weidenkopf, “and it’s about how lies can be catastrophic and can seriously damage people’s reputation in a place that makes it irreparable for them to come back from.”
With the play being so character focused and dealing with such serious themes, the leads shared about what their experience on the show was like and how they were able to connect with their characters.
“The experience working as a lead on this show has been a great one!” said Ruppert. “I’m actually studying to be a teacher, so connecting to Act I Karen was fairly easy for me. When it comes to the later parts of the show, I had to work hard to understand where she was coming from and just to better understand her emotions and actions.”
“Initially in portraying her I put too much of my own self into the character and that’s just not mentally healthy,” said Weidenkopf. “ After realizing that…I started finding little ways that I could still really connect with the character…I did a bunch of research specifically about lesbians in the 1930s…and a lot of that research really helped me understand the stakes Martha has throughout the production and how I could portray her better.”
Weidenkopf, Ruppert and Barre all expressed how important they thought it was for people to see this play because of the relevant themes it brings up and causes the audience to question. It really is a wonderful production, so don’t miss the chance to see it!