posted November 7, 2007

Hope Theatre to Present “By the Bog of Cats”

Hope College Theatre will present "By the Bog of Cats"by Marina Carr in the DeWitt Center main theatre beginning Friday, Nov. 16.

Performances are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Nov. 16 and 17; and Wednesday through Friday, Nov. 28-30, all with an 8 p.m. curtain. There will be a special final performance on Saturday, Dec. 1, at 9:30 p.m.

"By the Bog of Cats" paints the story of Hester Swane, a woman born in the bogs of central Ireland who swears never to leave her homeland. Abandoned during childhood, she is determined to stay until her mother returns to the bog. In the meantime, Hester, who was once promised to marry Carthage Kilbride, the father of her seven-year-old daughter Josie, now faces a man who has fallen in love with a woman younger and wealthier.

The play takes place in one day, the wedding day of Carthage to his newly betrothed, Caroline Cassidy. Carthage plans to live with his intended in the house that has been home to Hester during her daughter's life, but Hester will have none of it. Threatening and ominous, Hester vows to keep her dignity in the face of lost love and lost social reputation, and she will stop at nothing to achieve her goal. Afflicted by the words of persons past and present, Hester must fulfill her destiny, emphasizing the story's similar nature to the theatre of Ancient Greece.

Reagan Chesnut, who is a Hope senior from Ada and the co-director and dramaturg of the production, presented the play to the faculty last year. Chesnut describes the play as "heroic," a production that resists sentimentality and embraces poetic language and brutal action.

"When all is said and done," said Chesnut, "being able to share this beautiful and terrifying piece of theatre with this community will be worth every minute of exhaustion."

Frank McGuinness, himself an esteemed Irish playwright has described the words in Carr's plays as "like boiling water. They scald you if they so choose."

"And she knows playwrights have to be in the business of discovering fire, for without it there is no passion, no comfort, no terror, no light. I love her plays for the light they cast on darkness," McGuinness has said. "In confrontation with terror, she is without fear. Her theatre is, in the most brutal sense, heroic."

Leading the design team for "By the Bog of Cats" are two senior theatre majors: Sarah Watkins of Detroit, designing the scenery; and Amanda Spaanstra of Grandville, designing the costumes.

"We are so fortunate to be able to showcase the work of our senior design students in this production," said Michelle Bombe, director of theatre at Hope. "Sarah and Amanda's work is really dynamic and inspiring, and coupled with the work of senior Reagan Chesnut, co-director and dramaturg for the production, really represents a tour-de-force demonstration of student learning, research and creativity in the theatre department."

Also working on the production are faculty members John Tammi, director; Richard Smith, properties designer; Perry Landes, lighting and sound designer; and Michelle Bombe, costume design supervisor. Serving as technical director is staff member Paul Anderson.

Several other students are also serving on the production team: junior Jaclynn Cherry of Rochester, assistant stage manager; junior Pat Feder of Grand Rapids, assistant lighting designer; senior Stephanie Lawson of Mount Vernon, Ohio, stage manager; freshman Jackie Richards of Worthington, Ohio, assistant stage manager; junior Katie Terpstra of Zeeland, properties assistant; junior Laura Van Tassell of Spencer, Iowa, master electrician; and freshman Lauren Zeldenrust of Lansing, Ill., scenic design assistant.

Cast members include: senior Dane Clark of Grand Rapids as Carthage Kilbride; senior Isaac Droscha of Mason as Xavier Cassidy; sophomore Jared Graybiel of Lebanon as the Ghost Fancier; freshman Ben Hertel of Holland as Young Dunne; junior Luc Leavenworth of Naperville, Ill., as Father Willow; junior Maggie McGurn of Traverse City as Catwoman; freshman Cassie Niespodziewanski of Clarendon Hills as Mrs. Kilbride; sophomore Brittany Stock of St. Charles, Ill., as Caroline Cassidy; junior Katie Terpstra of Zeeland as Monica Murray; senior Jocelyn Vammer of Midland as Hester Swane; senior Jeremiah Vipond of Traverse City as the Ghost of Joseph Swane; and freshman Christine Worden of Midland as Josie Swane.

Tickets for "By the Bog of Cats"are $7 for regular admission, $5 for Hope faculty and staff, and $4 for students and senior citizens, and are available in the ticket office inside the east entrance of the DeVos Fieldhouse, which is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. but will be closed on Thursday-Friday, Nov. 22-23, because of the Thanksgiving holiday. In addition, the theatre lobby ticket office in the DeWitt Center will be open on performance nights shortly before 8 p.m. The ticket office may be contacted at (616) 395-7890.

The DeVos Fieldhouse is located at 222 Fairbanks Avenue between Ninth and 11th streets. The DeWittCenter is located on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street.