A timeless story of mankind

December 09, 2004|by ANDREA ROWLAND

Hagerstown Community College's Robinwood Players will showcase the tenacity of the human spirit this weekend during the student production of Thornton Wilder's "The Skin of Our Teeth."

The classic play will be staged at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10, and Saturday, Dec. 11, at HCC's Kepler Theater. Tickets cost $7, and admission is free for HCC students.

Wilder earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1943 for his play about mankind's drive to survive in the face of adversity, a universal theme cloaked in the quirky story of the Antrobus family - Mr. and Mrs. Antrobus, children Henry and Gladys, and maid Sabina. The Antrobus clan represents both a typical American family living in a New Jersey suburb in 1942 and biblical characters Adam, Eve, Lilith, Cain and a daughter who survive the Ice Age in Act 1, the Flood in Act 2 and war in Act 3, director Michael Harsh said.


"In spite of these obstacles, the Antrobuses continue," said Harsh, professor of drama, speech and English at HCC. "It's this wacky story, but the more you watch the more you realize it's our story."

Amie Tweit, who wears 4-inch heels and fishnet stockings to portray lusty maid Sabina/Lilith in the play, agreed that the show boasts a timeless quality. The play's lead characters "represent the struggle of mankind from Adam and Eve on," said Tweit, 21, of Knoxville, Md.

Adam Blackstock as the moody Mr. Antrobus/Adam, a William Shakespeare fan who invented the wheel and the brewing of beer, tackles the role of the biblical first man and everyman - a character who stumbles but strives to keep moving forward.

"Whenever the state of the family has fallen or been disgraced, he wants to make things better, to keep moving on," said Blackstock, 24, of Hagerstown.

Mrs. Antrobus invented the hem and the apron, and she'd burn all the works of Shakespeare to keep her kids from catching colds. Actor Brandie Kline, 20, of Smithsburg, said she tapped into her maternal instincts to play Mrs. Antrobus - an "earth mother" with a fiery temper.

Itching to play with his slingshot, son Henry Antrobus/Cain doesn't make life any easier for his parents.

"He's a very disturbed little boy," said actor Scotty Grove, 23, of Hagerstown.

Henry's sister, Gladys Antrobus, discovers her sexuality during the course of the play - evolving from an innocent girl to a single mother. Actor Katie Hull, 21, of Hagerstown, said the changing nature of the role was challenging.

The Robinwood Players - including the 20 actors and nine crew members for the production of "The Skin of Our Teeth" - earn theater production class credits for their work, said Harsh, who's been involved with the theater program at HCC since 1976. He and Joseph Marscher, music and drama instructor at the college, now direct four to five student plays annually - up from the two plays per year that the Robinwood Players staged in years past.

"Our new president (Dr. Guy Altieri) really supports the arts and performance," Harsh said.

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