Keen Company

presents

An Evening of One-Acts by THORNTON WILDER

PULLMAN CAR HIAWATHA

Directed by HENRY WISHCAMPER

and

THE HAPPY JOURNEY TO TRENTON AND CAMDEN

Directed by CARL FORSMAN

www.keencompany.org

 

The Connelly Theater, June 19 – July 18, 2004

 

Scenic Design TAKESHI KATA

Costume Design JENNY MANNIS

Lighting Design JOSH BRADFORD

Music AARON MEICHT

Stage Manager MADDALENA DEICHMANN

Press Representative KAREN GRECO ENTERTAINMENT

Cast

Kristen Bedard – Martin Carey – Jimonn Cole – Dan Cordle

Maria Dizzia – Ann Dowd – Wilber Edwin Henry – Jonathan Hogan Christopher Keough – Lael Logan – Shane McRae – DJ Mifflin

Glen Pannell – John Patrick – Susan Pellegrino – Laura Plouffe

Christa Scott-Reed – Jocelyn Rose – Peter Russo – Melodie Sisk – Pi Smith David Standish – Ryan Ward – Michael Warner

Keen Company has returned with a charming, short evening of one-act plays penned by Thornton Wilder in 1931, and collectively entitled PULLMAN CAR HIAWATHA. Significant for making small town slice of life details relatable to a mass audience, these two works are ample evidence that the power behind Wilder’s storytelling lies in his observation and expression of details. They also hint at the creative roots for well-known Wilder, especially OUR TOWN, so the chance to experience these theatrical building blocks is a rare opportunity.

The first play presented, THE HAPPY JOURNEY TO TRENTON AND CAMDEN, follows an average middle class family consisting of Ma (Ann Dowd), Pa (Wilbur Edwin Henry), and children Caroline (Laura Plouffe) and Arthur (Ryan Ward) as they travel by car to visit elder, married daughter Beulah (Lael Logan). With the Stage Manager (Jonathan Hogan, in both plays) acting as narrator, the townsfolk back home and the gas station attendant along the way, there is a pretty full feeling for a one-act mostly set inside a car. The Ma is a talker, and an excitable woman, and her role is infused with realistic humor. Pa is the quiet one. The children chatter. The day seems routine, and it sort of is in the scheme of things. On closer inspection, however, this is a tale of perseverance. It reflects on one family, but it hints at the human spirit.

The title work, PULLMAN CAR HIAWATHA, is about one night on a Pullman car train called Hiawatha. Filled with varying passengers, and including references to the larger concerns of theology and astronomy, this short work hints heavily at what would be Grover’s Corners, set in motion, but it is much more than a mere precursor to the 1938 masterpiece. Bringing in so much beyond the mainly nameless 20-odd characters and the types the represent (here, the geography of Hiawatha), even the hours, the planets and the angels are within the universal realm of this very special journey. A mighty examination for a play that runs only about one half of an hour, it is clear that Wilder had the grandest of ambitions for his particular brand of small town folk.

So, for a rare glimpse at some lesser known Thornton Wilder, Keen’s PULLMAN CAR HIAWATHA is a must see. Short and simple, yet still telling and timely, an audience will not be able to deny the creative storytelling at work.

- Kessa De Santis -

Archives    Listings