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MCLA TO PRESENT A CELEBRATION OF ART'S POWER TO REGENERATE LOST SOULS IN 'OUR COUNTRY'S GOOD'

A POWERFUL PLEA FOR THEATRE AS A HUMANIZING FORCES

04/19/17

NORTH ADAMS, MASS. – The second show of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) Fine and Performing Arts Department’s spring semester, “Our Country’s Good” by Timberlake Wertenbaker, will be presented Wednesday, April 26, through Saturday, April 29, in Venable Theatre on the MCLA campus. Performances will begin at 8 p.m., with a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m.

According to Laura Standley, associate professor of fine and performing arts, “Our Country’s Good” is a moving portrait of hardship, survival and the regenerative power of theatre. The drama, she said, will send the audience through a roller coaster of emotions, eventually providing a sense of hopeful healing.

“‘Our Country’s Good’ questions the decency of having prisons which only exist to punish and dehumanize the criminal. It is about oppression and what happens when you beat people down, and at the same time, it is about hope and how, despite horrible situations, human beings are able to find redemption,” Standley said.

To prepare for the performance, “We immersed ourselves in articles about the first fleet and the history of the time, and researched our current prison system. We looked at stories about the lives of these people and heard how it feels to put on a play in prison, how it feels to grow up in a family engaged in crime, and how it feels to have spent most of your life incarcerated. There were so many threads to follow, each incredibly fruitful,” Standley added.

“Our Country’s Good” is an adaptation of the novel, “The Playmaker,” by Thomas Keneally, which is set in a penal colony in New South Wales during the 1780s. The story chronicles the experiences of a group of convicts and Royal Marines and what ensues as they put on a production of “The Recruiting Officer” by George Farquhar. The novel was written using letters and journals to create an accurate account of the events that occurred.

“This show specifically is extremely challenging, with a lot of different elements that need time to explore,” cast member Julie Castagna ’18 explained. “Being able to learn about the historical background of this play and the origins of all of the characters' stories has been so rewarding. I think that I can speak for everyone in the cast when I say that this process has really been a learning experience, and, given the circumstances of the play, we have all had the ability to get to know each other and become a family.”

“Our Country’s Good” contains mature content, including strong language, violence and sexual situations.

The theatre program at MCLA develops innovative theatre artists prepared for careers in theatre and graduate study. In the intimate, culturally rich setting of the Berkshires, students hone their craft through intensive studio training and hands-on experience, within the context of their broader liberal arts education. Opportunities for practical experience abound, from courses in acting, directing, design and production to working alongside a faculty of talented professionals in our award-winning production season. On stage and in the classroom, theatre students at MCLA make theatre of the highest quality, as they explore the rich tradition of this unique, multi-disciplinary art form. 

For more information, www.mcla.edu/academics/undergraduate/fineandperformingarts/theatre

or http://www.mcla.ticketleap.com/.

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth's public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.

For more information, go to http://www.mcla.edu/.

 

Media Contact: Laura Standley, 413.662.5486, Laura.Standley@mcla.edu