Classic story, new interpretation

Kyle McDonald

‘Grapes of Wrath’

features new elements, character to play.

‘Grapes of Wrath’

features new elements, character to play

“The Grapes of Wrath,” the theater department’s last production of the spring semester, opens tonight and runs through Sunday, showcasing a new interpretation of the play adopted from John Steinbeck’s classic novel.

The story of “The Grapes of Wrath” is set during the Great Depression and follows the Joad family, farmers migrating from Oklahoma to California in order to escape the devastation of the Dust Bowl.

“I took a high concept road to it,” said Mark Monday, director of the play and assistant acting professor. “Man’s inhumanity to man is a huge theme in this play.”


Monday said that while directing the play, he focused on tying in humanism and faith throughout the characters’ journey. Part of Monday’s interpretation includes a character named Oriel who acts as an “Angel of Destiny.” Created specifically for this production, Oriel serves as a guardian angel and, according to Monday, is present in all the major events in the play.

“I think what he’s done with it is very creative,” said Cameron Dashiell, the actress playing Oriel. “What I’m trying to achieve is the idea of guiding them through that process and letting them know that no matter what, you’ll always have someone to be there for you and take you in that right direction.”

“She adds so much to the show,” said Christian Prentice whom plays Al Joad.

“The Grapes of Wrath” will be performed in the Wright-Curtis Theatre in the Music and Speech Center.

According to Monday, performing “The Grapes of Wrath” in Wright-Curtis, which holds arena-style seating, gives a more intimate performance than if it were performed in the E. Turner Stump Theatre, a traditional-sized theater.

“You can’t fake it,” Prentice said on acting in Wright-Curtis. “They’re (the audience) right there on top of you.”

Triangular cloths surround the set, giving a tent-feel according to Monday. Images taken during the Dust Bowl will be projected on the cloths throughout the play to help set the scene.

“I think we really create a real life experience and make it real for the audience,” said Connie Hecker, scenic designer for the play.

All of the Dust Bowl images used are taken directly from the National Archives said Hecker.

Being that a main theme in “The Grapes of Wrath” is hunger and hardship, the theatre department is sponsoring a food drive during all three performance dates. All food donations will go to the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank according to Hecker, who’s also running the drive.

“It’s important to the whole theatre department that we do give back,” Hecker said.

Contact performing arts

reporter Kyle McDonald

at [email protected].