The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater will present a production of Marina Carr’s 2006 drama, Woman and Scarecrow, in which a dying, contemplative woman reflects upon her life from her death bed and wonders what could have been. Performances are on March 8, 9, 13, 14, and 15 at 8:00 p.m. at the Marie and Edward Matthews ’53 Acting Studio at 185 Nassau Street. The production is directed by Tim Vasen, the Director of the Program in Theater, and features senior theater certificate students Carolyn Vasko in the role of Woman and CC Kellogg as Scarecrow.
Woman and Scarecrow focuses on abedriddenwoman—mother to eight children and wife to a hopeless husband—as she hovers between life and death. In her reflecting and dying the woman is accompanied at her sick bed by the Scarecrow, a figure representative of Gaelic mythology whose true identity and intentions remain a mystery. In some moments Scarecrow seems a friend, a source of comfort, or even a guardian angel; in others, the Scarecrow seems a judge, a source of condemnation or perhaps a morphine-induced alter-ego. In the process of death, the woman’s interactions with the enigmatic Scarecrow, her stern Catholic aunt, and detached, cheating husband illuminate the regrets, fears, joys and passions of Woman’s brief existence.
Students in the Program in Theater complete a senior thesis project in fulfillment of the requirements for a certificate, similar to a minor, and which is in addition to their major area of concentration.
Vasko is majoring in History and Kellogg is concentrating in English, and both knew early on that they desired to stage a work by Marina Carr as their thesis project. Kellogg’s knowledge of the Irish playwright began with a course she took during her sophomore year on Contemporary Irish Drama, taught by faculty member Michael Cadden. Her growing interest led her to enroll in The Phaedra Project, an interdisciplinary theater-making course offered in spring 2011 focused on the development of Carr’s play Phaedra Backwards in preparation for its world premiere at McCarter Theatre that fall. Vasko notes she was first captivated by the works of Carr in the summer of 2011 when she participated in a Princeton Global Seminar course in Ireland led by Theater faculty Stacy Wolf and Jill Dolan. The seniors consulted many of the faculty from the Program in Theater as they considered which of Carr’s dramas they would tackle for their thesis project.
A second goal Vasko and Kellogg share in their vision for this project is one of collaboration. From the beginning, they set out to keep the different elements of production largely an in-house project, inviting their fellow students at the Lewis Center to be a part of the production. For example, the seniors hand-picked the two other student actors for the cast, Maeve Brady ’15 and Jake Robertson ’15, colleagues whose work they had come to know well. By utilizing resources within the Lewis Center for sets, lighting and costumes, Vasko and Kellogg are also able to try their own hands at designing elements of the production and spaces. In addition, they recruited two fellow senior Visual Arts students, Polly Korbel and Leana Hirschfeld-Kroen, to create original artwork for the production’s publicity materials.
“CC and Carolyn each discovered Marina Carr’s work through different avenues at the Lewis Center,” notes Director of the Program in Theater and director of this production. “That opportunity for discovery and exploration is exactly what we seek to provide for our students.”
Woman and Scarecrow premiered in June 2006 at The Royal Court Theatre in London with two of Ireland’s leading actresses, Fiona Shaw and Brid Brennan, portraying the roles of Woman and Scarecrow, respectively. Since then the play has been produced at numerous theaters in England, across Ireland, and throughout the U.S.