TRTC brings John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’ to life in Carbondale
IF YOU GO …
What: TRTC’s production of, “Of Mice and Men”
Where: Thunder River Theatre Company, 67 Promenade, Carbondale
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22 (opening night) and Saturday, Feb. 23 (continuing at 7:30 p.m. March 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9, with a 2 p.m. matinee March 3)
For longtime educator, actor and stage director Lon Winston, retirement is a misnomer.
Since the Thunder River Theatre Company founder stepped away from managing TRTC two-and-half years ago, Winston has kept busy acting, designing and directing.
“I like being involved in a show every year,” Winston said.
Since handing the reins as executive artistic director over to Corey Simpson, Winston has directed and designed Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” last year and “Rashomon” the year before.
“I am also a permanent member of the board, TRTC’s theater consultant, and I work with Corey to develop our new seasons,” he said.
His latest directorial effort will bring John Steinbeck’s famous Depression-era drama, “Of Mice and Men,” to the stage at Thunder River, opening this weekend.
“Doing a classic play — doing any play really — we are simply creating our model for what we believe that play means. It’s not right or wrong. It just needs to be new and fresh for us — and honest,” Winston said.
Winston said the biggest challenge for him on this show and any show he directs, is to make it relevant for contemporary audiences.
Winston believes that, deep down, “Of Mice and Men” is a love story.
“It is a profound relationship between two people. It’s not a romance relationship. It is caring friendship.” Winston said
“It must communicate something significant to our audience — whether it’s Greek drama, Shakespeare or American classics.”
The cast of the production includes Simpson as George, Owen O’Farrell playing Lennie, Sonya Meyer as Curly’s Wife, alongside Bob Moore as Candy. Other supporting cast members include Tom Cochran, Gerald DeLisser, Nick Garay, Dana Gaubatz, Brian McIsaac and Willie Moseley.
The favorite part of producing a play for Winston is bringing the cast together.
“It’s about getting them to see the play in a new light, [and] guiding them through the rehearsal process until we reach performance posture. I like to light a fire under my actors, and then get out of the way,” Winston said.
“I see myself as the guide on the side, not the sage on the stage.”
After a preview show Thursday night, the two-week run — which is part of the main season at TRTC — hits the stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday in Carbondale, and continues the next two weekends.
Winston said the final touch happens with the preview performance.
“We all learn something with the help of an audience. Then our opening night happens, we’re ready.”