Scarlet Letter

University of Wisconsin - River Falls

Feb. 7, 1997

Scarlet Letter Performance in March

The University Theatre at UW-River Falls will present a new adaptation of Nathaniel Hathorne's "The Scarlet Letter" March 6-8 and 13-15.

Performances are set for 8 p.m. in the Blanche Davis Theatre of the Klienpell Fine Arts Building. Ticket prices are $6 for non-students and $3 for students.

This stylish and compelling piece is based on the famous novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hester Prynne, played by Gwen Heyn, is a woman condemned for the sin of adultery and sentenced to wear the red letter "A" sewn to her clothing. The story is told through the eyes of Hester's daughter Pearl, played by Jennifer Kinney, as though she was looking back on the events. The story is set in a Puritan community in Boston around 1760.

"This new adaptation remains true to the dark romanticism of the original, while fusing it with a contemporary sensibility. Playwright Phyllis Nagy is remarkably sensitive to Hawthorne's metaphors and remarkably skilled at evoking them dramatically," said director Meg Swanson. "It is a brilliantly written piece."

This adaptation is not at all like the movie, Swanson says. It really gives audiences something to think about. "Nagy chose the novel's most dramatic events and condensed them into an effective and insightful adaptation that includes all of Hawthorne's important images and metaphors," remarked Swanson. In fact, the set will portray many of these settings, including a scaffold, prison, graveyard, and the forest that houses the isolated Puritan community.

This provocative script reflects the Puritans' severe code of ethics and portrays Hathorne's complex theme, which includes such issues as sexuality, guilt, isolation, sin, and redemption.

Audiences don't need to have read the book to find the play interesting and thought-provoking, Swanson assures. The script uses contemporary language that is easy to understand, making it an excellent choice for audiences, including students and adults alike.

Cast members, their home towns and the character they portray, are: Joel Anthony, Sartell, Minn., Chillingworth; Sarah Barsness, Chanhassen, Minn., Mistress Libbins. Raymond Egan, South St. Paul, Minn., Master Brackett; Gwen Heyn, Columbia Heights, Minn., Hester Prynne; Jennifer Kinney, Hudson, Pearl; Erik Paulson, River Falls, Rev. Dimmesdale; and Joseph Smithwick, Bloomington, Minn., Bellingham.

The box office opens Feb. 24. Box office hours are from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. To reserve tickets call 715/425-3114. Any remaining tickets will be available the night of the performance. The box office will open at 7 p.m. on performance nights, and the theater will open at 7:30 p.m.

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