NKU Brings Great American Novel THE GRAPES OF WRATH to the Stage

NKU_The Grapes of Wrath logoHIGHLAND HEIGHTS, KY – Northern Kentucky University | School of the Arts | Program of Theatre and Dance presents THE GRAPES OF WRATH September 29 – October 9, 2016. Performances will take place in the Corbett Theatre in the Fine Arts Center.

By Frank Galati | From the novel by John Steinbeck
September 29 – October 9, 2016 | NKU Corbett Theatre

A powerful and deeply affecting stage version of one of the masterpieces of American literature, there’s a reason why THE GRAPES OF WRATH is a classic. Set against the backdrop of the Great Depression, the story’s themes—endurance, sacrifice, and family—are no less powerful today than they were 77 years ago, when John Steinbeck penned the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. This Tony Award-winning stage adaptation follows the Joad family on their flight from the dust bowl of Oklahoma, culminating in a soaring and deeply moving affirmation of the indomitability of the human spirit.

We sat down with director and theatre faculty member Corrie Danieley to get the inside scoop on THE GRAPES OF WRATH. Read on to learn more about Danieley’s unique approach to the show.

How familiar were you with THE GRAPES OF WRATH before you started diving into the play?

Corrie Danieley: I had read the play a long while ago and have a love for Steinbeck. His language is devastatingly poetic and beautiful – I fell in love with how he captures the human spirit and our connection to the earth.

Are there any special challenges in bringing one of the “Great American Novels” to life?

CD: I guess it’s that most everyone has read or seen some version of it before and to live up to any expectation is a challenge. My approach is to experience this production as a new piece – to get out of the way of the language and let the story tell itself. It’s beautiful as it is – I don’t want to get in the way of it.

What inspirations did you share with your cast and creative team?

CD: Visual research a big piece of the process for me – and I have pictures hung up in my office so I can continue to let the atmosphere of the world continue to speak to me throughout the whole process. I’ve included some very iconic pictures from the Dust Bowl – lots of pictures of families struggling, tragic poverty, endless horizons, and a deep sense of longing – longing for what they had, what they want, and to feel whole again. I have lots of pictures on acts of nature, the prairie, mountains… the novel speaks so eloquently of nature and it’s echoed in the people as well.

What role does music play in this production?

CD: Music is throughout the play – it’s written in the script. We have a talented student band I have affectionately titled “Hobo Band”. They include a guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, and harmonica. The Hobo Band will sometimes all play together, sometimes separately – but they’re all mobile instruments that many of the Dust Bowl families would have taken with them. Music styles include: hymns, Woody Guthrie, Carl Sandberg, square dance music, and waltz. The role for music is to help recreate mood, parallel the struggle and joys of the journey, and also reflect the historical time period.

What has been most surprising about directing this work at NKU?

CD: Most everyone I talk to about this show recognizes the title and they also get a smile across their face. Everyone seems to have a connection and affection for this story.

For more information call the NKU School of the Arts Box Office at 859.572.5464 or visit theatre.nku.edu


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