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Family displays ‘Independence’ in MTU?play

Plot line of McArdle Theatre presentation is family, its triumps, tragedies, tribulations

October 20, 2010
By STACEY KUKKONEN Houghton Daily Mining Gazette

HOUGHTON - Michigan Technological University Theatre Company will take the stage presenting dysfunction at its finest.

"Independence," a play by Lee Blessing about the story of an erratic mother who struggles between too much control and not enough, and three headstrong daughters who are fighting their way through adulthood will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday in the McArdle Theatre at Michigan Tech.

Director Roger Held said the audience should be able to relate to the production because everyone tends to have a little kookiness in their families.

"I think everyone's family is dysfunctional in some way and wonderful in others," he said.

Held said the family reminds him slightly of his own mother and sisters.

"There are things about their personalities that allow them to overcome their past," he said.

Fact Box

"I think everyone's family is dysfunctional in some way and wonderful in others."

- Roger Held, director "Independence"

Each character has their own niche, Held noted. One character, the middle daughter, is "a peacemaker, stuck between the domineering mother and the other siblings." The manic mother is portrayed by Trish Helsel, assistant professor in the department.

"Crazy," best describes Evelyn, Helsel said in a release from Tech. "She is totally focused on herself and her projects that she can do without her absent daughters. She's resentful of their father and is struggling with the girls' move toward independence."

One character is the 19-year-old who just wants to be loved, is a bit misguided and has a baby at 15.

"She has tried to escape her family by having meaningless sexual encounters," per the release.

The eldest daughter is a lesbian who has to "exude indifference."

"She's also on an emotional roller coaster," said Laura Larsen, the third-year student who portrays the character. "She's calm but, at any time, she can blow up. She wants to be both independent and accepted."

Held said the characters have the ability to create their own identity which impacts their children.

"The actors have turned out to be really good," Held said.

Held said when he looks at the play, he sees how resilient and heroic human beings really are.

"Not matter how misguided their actions may be, they are still striving to do something good," he said. "They may have tried the wrong things and have to stop doing that and do something else. They learn that from one another."

The play includes interaction between members of the family, while dealing with life lessons, Held said.

"In spite of how mean the mother has been to each and every one of these kids, they still love her and love one another," he said. "No matter how angry they are about their circumstances or how much they feel a victim of their circumstances, they still feel a bond between each other and their mother," he said. "It's a fairly accurate depiction of difficult it is for people to make their way in the world and how heroically they do that."

Tickets for "Independence" are $10 for the general public, free for Michigan Tech students and $5 for other students 18 and under. Tickets are available online to at the door.



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