Under Milk Wood Kicks off Catawba’s Theatre Season

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 18, 2014

“Under Milk Wood,” Dylan Thomas’s last work and only play, opens the 2014-2015 season for Catawba College’s award winning Theatre Arts Department. The production runs at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 23 through 27 in Hedrick Little Theatre on campus.
The play was first broadcast by the British Broadcasting Company in 1954, with actor Richard Burton, a Welshman, as narrator, and became an instant classic. Set in the fictional Welsh fishing town of Llareggub, it explores the lives of a variety of characters, including Captain Cat, Organ Morgan and Polly Garter, all denizens of a town which has “fallen head over bells in love.”
In a first for Catawba College Theatre and as playwright Dylan Thomas intended, “Under Milk Wood” will be broadcast live on the radio on opening night beginning at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 23 on Salisbury’s Memories 1280, WSAT. Additionally, all performances during the run of this show will be streamed live on the college website at www.catawba.edu/theatre. The Catawba production of Under Milk Wood is also being staged this year as an opportunity to commemorate the centenary of Dylan Thomas’ birth.

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Thomas’ hilarious account of nobodies in a tiny town brings the characters’ innermost feelings to life through their dreams. Captain Cat reveals his life at sea, while Polly Garter pines over her dead lover. As each character awakens, they must deal with the fact that their feelings affect everything they do. Richard Burton put it much more succinctly when he claimed “the entire thing is about religion, the idea of death and sex.”
As with his poetry, Thomas’ play, Under Milk Wood, relies on the clang of its lines and the pictures evoked by its words to communicate meaning. Catawba’s cast members are working hard to capture that essential Welshness in this production and have spent time learning the Welsh dialect. The actors will also play multiple roles using multiple voices with the sound effects coming from the sound table using old-timey, hand-cranked wind and rain machines, coconut shells to create the sound of horse hooves, and with actors also bleating like sheep or calling like gulls.
Those on Catawba’s creative team include director and set designer, Professor David Pulliam; guest music director, senior Shaun Cammack of Lake Toxaway; stage managers, junior Cody Mangum of Concord and freshman Peyton Glendinning of Panama City Beach, Fla.; assistant stage manager, senior Pen Chance of Augusta, Ga.; and two faculty designers: Professors Erin Dougherty (costume design) and Christopher Zink (lighting design).
The cast includes sophomore Trey Irby of Concord, First Voice; junior Tabitha Bass of Burlington, Second Voice; and in multiplwe roles: sophomore Addison Bevis of Salisbury; freshman Arnold Blohme from Fairhope, Ala.; freshman Chaz Coble of Weaverville; freshman Zach Dietz of Panama City Beach, Fla.; senior Eric English of Horse Shoe; freshman Kayla Guffey of Clemmons; freshman Anna Kate Hall of Asheville; freshman Duane Leatherberry of Pleasantville, N.J.; senior Hannah Lee of Fuquay-Varina; senior Shannon O’Donnell of Tampa, Fla.; sophomore Lauren Stacks of Winston-Salem; junior Melissa Tarduno of Indian Trail; and junior Jean White of Hilton Head, S.C.
Tickets for Under Milk Wood are free to Catawba College students, faculty and staff, $12 for non-Catawba adults and $10.00 for non-Catawba students and senior citizens. Other discounts are available for groups. For more information, or to make reservations, call the theatre at 704-637-4481 or visit our website at www.catawba.edu/theatretix.