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Drama hosts matinee of “The Insanity of Mary Girard,” to premiere tomorrow

By Semira Beraki, Hawkeye staff

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The MTHS Drama cast hosted a preview of their 2017 spring play, “The Insanity of Mary Girard,” diving into literary elements such as characterization and presenting controversial themes held true in everyday life throughout the 1700s. The department presented the first showing of the play through a matinee, a performance of the play shown in the daytime, on Thursday, March 30 during fifth and sixth period.

As the theater was packed with students and teachers, drama director Jeannie Brzovic, introduced the purpose of the play as to enrich the curriculum at MTHS, inviting English and psychology classes to come watch, among other classes. Although there were a few distractions from the students, the audience was overall respectful throughout the play and showed their support to the cast afterwards.

“The Insanity of Mary Girard” is based off of real people and events in the 1780s during the colonial era. The production portrayed characters such as doctor Benjamin Rush, who had signed the U.S. Constitution, and Stephen Girard, a wealthy, French-born philanthropist who had helped financially save the U.S. government during War of 1812.

Mary Girard, the lead character, is committed into a mental asylum by her husband, Stephen Girard, after being pregnant with another man’s child and Stephen claiming her to be insane. With this, the play is set on the first night of her confinement, alone and strapped to a “tranquilizing chair.” Being deprived of her senses from the chair and losing blood from the act of bloodletting, Mary is dazed and unaware of her surroundings, conjuring up figments of her imagination known as the “Furies.”

These Furies represent different personas in Mary’s head who constantly torment her, portraying the people in her life and accentuating moments leading up to her demise. These characters both mock and comfort Mary, speaking simultaneously and aligning their dialogue with one another as they become key characters in her life. Throughout the play, they send Mary into a journey and make her reflect on her character, and have herself and the audience question her sanity.

At the end of the performance, English teacher Vince DeMiero and psychology teacher Kimberly Nelson joined Brzovic to discuss the elements of the play to the audience. They discussed the ambiguous topic of Mary’s mental state and the difficulty of portraying an insane person in the play who is unknown of their own condition.

“The play doesn’t bind to time,” Brzovic said, reflecting on how the play doesn’t follow traditional theater rules and shows different time periods throughout Mary’s life.

She describes the format of the play as “a puzzle piece,” especially in the Furies’ dialogue where “it’s all chopped up [in how it’s written].” She also addresses the play’s use of gender roles and posing the question on the rights women have over their bodies through the way Stephen treats his wife, Mary.

Nelson also described her input of the play as she spoke about the Furies being different archetypes and representing Mary’s inner monologue, relating components of the play back to her own classroom curriculum. She enjoyed the play and expressed that “it [was] fun to get out of [a] classroom” and viewing a play as unique as this one.

DeMiero addressed the use of indirect and direct characterization of the play and focused on Stephen Girard, posing the question to the audience about Stephen’s actions and what could have motivated them. This reflected on the play’s use of emphasizing the dominant roles males, or rather husbands, had over their wives and viewing them as property.

As the discussion was nearing to an end, the cast came out and Brzovic praised them for their teamwork and the final outcome of the play. The cast garnered a huge round of applause and freshman performer Peja Shymko received further encouragement from the audience as she was honored for her astounding performance as Mary.

The play will continue its showing time from Friday, March 31 to Saturday, April 1 at 7 p.m. The admission price is $5 per person.

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The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.
Drama hosts matinee of “The Insanity of Mary Girard,” to premiere tomorrow