By LESLIE KING
Radford University CVPA Communications Officer
It may sound cliché, but for Radford University senior theater major Sarah Meade, directing “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds” is something of a dream come true.
“I’ve always loved the story, and felt that I was able to relate to each of the characters in a different way,” says Meade.
In fact, when Sarah was considering material for her final class project in advanced directing, she proposed staging the second act of the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama. It was then that she first looked at the play from a director’s standpoint.
“I really fell in love with the journey that this family takes, and how each character deals with it so differently,” she continues.
That project was ruled because it was too much to take on with the time available. Then the play came up for consideration by the RU theater play selection committee.
It was chosen, and Meade was chosen to direct the full play. Her production opens the second half of the Department of Theatre and Cinema’s 2013-14 season.
According to Meade she has really focused on the why of the characters’ actions in the play. She said that this exploration has led cast in bringing to life some already very distinct characters.
The cast includes Grace Ellinghaus as Tillie; Morgan Hardy as Beatrice, Tille’s mother; Kenzie VanDerwerker as Tillie’s sister; Lindsay Taylor as Nanny, a border; and Courtney Rice as Janice Vickery, a science fair competitor of Tillie’s.
The play centers on a bookish young girl named Tillie who lives a fairly dismal existence in a rundown former vegetable shop. She shares this ramshackle home with her prettier, but neurotic sister and their domineering mother.
Life seems pretty bleak until a teacher encourages Tillie to undertake an improbable experiment. Through this experience Tillie, like the marigolds of the title, starts to come out into the light.
The work won Zindel the 1971 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award.
“To me, it’s about everything that life throws at you, and the way you choose to handle those obstacles can affect your past, present, and future,” said Meade. “It really does go to show that, ‘even from the rankest soil, beauty can grow.’”
“The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds” runs from Wednesday, Feb. 19-22, in The Hawes Studio Theatre, Porterfield Hall.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. each evening with a 2 p.m. matinee Saturday, Feb. 22. Tickets are available at the Porterfield Box Office noon-6 p.m. beginning Monday, Feb. 17.
Admission is free but seating is limited. Reservations may be made by calling 540-831-5289.