Darkling Thrush debuts tonight
What began as John Meredith Hill's first attempt as a playwright
will debut on Bowdoin's campus this coming weekend, May 2-4, courtesy
of the Bowdoin Delta Sigma Upsilon Arts Fund and the Bowdoin Student Activities
Board. Darkling Thrush, a one-act drama, was finalized by Hill and his
daughter, Bowdoin senior India Hill. The younger Hill is directing the
play's debut. Tickets will not be sold, and patrons will be seated on
a first-come, first-served basis all three nights.
"It started out as an idea between my dad and I, just
joking around over winter break," she said.
Darkling Thrush is set on a small college campus 15 years
in the future, focusing on the drama between three members of the faculty,
English professors Marc, Bill, and Tiffany. As an English professor and
poet at the University of Scranton, the author's perspective provides
an intriguing investigation of academia's less glamorous sides.
Bill is an aging professor, soon to retire, played by Bowdoin
Spanish professor John Turner. He is joined in the department by Marc
and Tiffany, played by professionals Paul Drinan and Shondra Jin Guilbault,
respectively. They play younger members of the faculty, and are romantically
involved with each other. Thrush begins at the end of Winter Holiday in
January, just as students are beginning to return to campus. During the
Holiday, at a New Year's Eve Party, Marc slept with Bill's younger wife,
creating the conflict between the three characters. In addition, the university
has become a threatening atmosphere for professors, as students unsatisfied
with their grades have begun resorting to violence against their professors
in retaliation. Bowdoin students Sena Phin, '02 and Sarah Matthew, '04
play these roles.
"This play forces the audience to look between the
Everyone fucks, gets fucked, everyone falls in love, not everyone
gets shot," said Hill, '02.
During rehearsals, Hill's father sent her clippings of student violence against professors at their universities. The play examines this theme as well, what Hill called "academia as a pressure cooker." When asked if she felt Bowdoin and other current schools were particularly overbearing in this regard, Hill asserted, "it's always been a problem [though] perhaps a little more dangerous now."
"Although it's a play about English profs
it has themes important
to all of us," said Hill.
As an instructor himself, Professor Turner provided an intriguing point
of view on the play's unabashedly incisive look at academia.
"[Darkling Thrush is] a tragi-comic vision of what academia on a
bad day might be. It's funny and sad and it also has things to say in
an exaggerated way about academia today
. Yes it's a mirror, but
it's a distorted mirror."