The University of South Carolina Department of Theatre and Dance will present the classic American drama Of Mice and Men February 29 – March 3 at the Lab Theatre.
Show times are 8pm nightly. Tickets for the production are $10, and available online at theatre.sc.edu or at the door. The Lab Theatre is located at 1400 Wheat St., on the first floor of the Booker T. Washington building.
John Steinbeck’s theatrical adaptation of his landmark novella still packs the same gut-wrenching punch as when it premiered on Broadway in 1937. Set in the fields of California during the Great Depression, the story follows two migrant drifters, short-tempered George and his simple-minded but physically powerful companion, Lenny. After they find employment at a new farm, the two friends strive to work hard and realize a shared goal of owning their own land, but their American Dream is soon threatened by the boss’ brutish son and their involvement in a fatal tragedy.
Steinbeck's Depression-based views on the human connections that are our only hope of survival in desperate times are just as relevant -- even imperative – for living through our own cruel times.
Director David Britt, a senior theatre instructor, says his aim with the production is to honor Steinbeck’s emotionally gripping story while making the characters’ historically-inspired struggles relatable to today’s audiences.
“We’ve done sociological and psychological research, looking at each character as an individual going through life at that time,” says Britt. “We’re trying to make a connection between who they were then and who we are now.”
Steinbeck’s portrait of itinerant workers, doing what they must to survive in unforgiving economic and social systems, Britt says, is one that still has striking relevance more than 80 years after it was first published. “We’ve created circumstances again in this country where people are living very similarly to how these characters lived. We may not see it in Columbia, but migrant farms are bustling. It’s our way of life, unfortunately.”
“The central issue for these characters is their own survival,” says Britt. “Steinbeck was a realist and is showing us a world made of the weak and the strong – the mice and men – and the mice may not survive.”
Appearing in the production are David Alexander, Logan Brodfuehrer, Emmylou Clark, Damian Garrod, Cameron Giordano, Nick Good, Madison Hammonds, Will Hollerung, Brendan Martyn, Michael Taylor and Jacob Wilson. Production designers include Andy Mills (scenic), Kennedy-Reid Roberts (costume), Xander von Klar (lighting) and Kelsey McCloskey (sound). Ally Weaver is stage managing the show.
Britt sees this staging as an invitation to the community to experience a true classic of American theatre and literature.
“That’s why we chose it and why we’re doing it,” he says. “It’s a classic, timeless story about the fragility of friendship, of hopes and of dreams. And, I hope it inspires every audience member to think about how willing they are to take care of each other.”
For more information on Of Mice and Men or the theatre program at the University of South Carolina, contact Kevin Bush by phone at 803-777-9353 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.