The Grapes of Wrath Takes MH Stage

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Shalaka Madge

The cast of “The Grapes of Wrath” during a rehearsal.

Katrina Alonso, Copy Editor

This year’s fall play will be The Grapes of Wrath, a stage play adapted by Frank Galati from John Steinbeck’s book of the same name. According to the Playbill Vault, this realistic play follows the Joads, a family of sharecroppers, as they are driven west from Oklahoma to California by the Depression and the drought of the Dust Bowl.

When asked about her reasoning for choosing The Grapes of Wrath as the last out of the 20 productions she’s directed over her time at Morris Hills, Mrs. Lavin stated, “I chose it for several reasons. It’s a classic. I wanted to challenge my Hills kids and it’s a large cast so it’s a great way to get as many people involved in the fall play as possible. It’s my swan song; I’m leaving at the end of the year and it’s a great challenge and a great way to say goodbye to the program that we’ve developed over the past twelve years.”

Now in the middle of its production, the play and its cast have run into several challenges, some of the most important of which involved the proper portrayal of the characters. Senior Abeba Isaac, who plays Ma Joad, the matriarch of the family, said this about her character: “She’s very strong-willed; she has to control her emotions amid all this chaos to be strong for everyone. She’s definitely the most difficult person I’ve had to play.” Isaac, who has been doing theatre for nearly six years, said that her challenge was trying to find the experience to borrow from in order to play Ma Joad accurately, but she trusts her director and tries to apply Mrs. Lavin’s criticisms to her craft.

The play, while following the most important parts of the books, also differs from it widely. The intercalary chapters, which were included in the book to give greater scope to the general situation of the country at the time, are absent from the play. Instead, the audience is treated to a more in-depth portrayal of the Joad family. Isaac said, “You finally understand what they’re going through and you really feel more of their emotion.”

Mrs. Lavin hopes the audience will recognize that though these characters are fictional, The Grapes of Wrath was based on the true stories of people who lived in the Depression. “People really lived this. There really was a time in America like this,” she said.

The Grapes of Wrath, which will be running on November 20th, 21st and 22nd, will be selling tickets at $7 for students and senior citizens and $11 for adults. We hope to see you there!