The Barton Community College Theatre Department will present “Ah, Wilderness!” at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6 and 7, with a matinee at 2 p.m. Oct. 8 in the Fine Arts Auditorium on campus. Tickets are $6 at the door; students admitted free.
“Ah, Wilderness!” takes place on the Fourth of July in 1906 and centers around the Miller family, especially Richard who recently graduated high school. Richard’s nose is often found in a book reading and memorizing poetry to try and impress those around him showing he knows all “about the ways and loves of the world.” He is like many teenagers today who have yet to realize they don’t know “everything.”
While selecting plays for this season, Barton Theatre Director Dr. Richard Abel said he wanted to feature the American playwright Eugene O’Neill.
“I feel as an educator I should share Eugene O’Neill with not just the actors in the play but the audience as well,” he said.
The challenge came when selecting which one of O’Neill’s plays to feature on the Barton stage. All except “Ah, Wilderness!” are extremely tragic. With this in mind, Abel said “Ah, Wilderness!” was the best choice to reach the largest audience.
In the traditional sense, it is a comedy. In theater, a play is a tragedy when the protagonist loses and a comedy if the protagonist comes out on top.
“I don’t want the audience to think of this play being full of laughs, all though there are some funny parts. It’s not that kind of comedy,” he said. “It’s a nice sweet story about a wonderful family who all love each other.”
Abel further commented on the origination of the play in how it is based on the exact opposite of O’Neil’s family.
“He came from a very dysfunctional family. He wrote this play saying ‘this is how I would like my family to be, full of love for each other’,” Abel said. “The central theme is dealing with the love this family shares with each other.”
Jordan Drimmel, a sophomore at Barton, plays Richard. He further commented on the message with a simple statement.
“Love is difficult and things are not always what they seem to be,” he said.
The cast consists of college students, community members and high school students.
“We are open to everyone and I want everyone to be involved in my plays,” Abel said. “I want community members, theater majors and non-theater majors at Barton, high school students and junior high students all to be involved.”
Recently, Barton Theatre acquired a limited amount of listening devices to help those who are hard of hearing enjoy the shows. Those who attend “Ah, Wilderness!” who would like to use one of these devices can speak with the box office attendant.