Inmates to find freedom in play
The School of Theatre and Dance will premiere its rendition of an award-winning play at 8 p.m. Friday at the Jose Quintero Theatre.
Associate professor Jack Young directed Timberlake Wertenbaker’s play, “Our Country’s Good.” The Royal Court Theatre was the first to produce the play in 1988, with a cast that included talents such as Jim Broadbent, David Haig, Linda Bassett and Ron Cook.
The play features three actors from UH, including Susie Parr as Mary Brenham, Mike Thatcher as Governor Phillip and Tom Conry, a first-year MFA acting student, as Ralph Clark.
“‘Our Country’s Good’ serves to remind us that to live together, we must work together to build a common wealth, or we’ll all be the poorer for its absence,” Young said. “Each generation has to take the stories of the past and use them to forge their own culture.”
Young is also the head of the Professional Actor Training Program.
The play is set in 1789 at a penal colony in New South Wales, now known as Sydney, Australia.
In the play, a group of inmates are gathered to perform the Restoration-era comedy, “The Recruiting Officer,” directed by Lt. Ralph Clark by demand of Governor Phillip to honor the king’s birthday.
The inmates have no acting experience. Several cast members are illiterate, and one member is awaiting his death sentence.
“Our Country’s Good” is an example of how the arts can positively influence society and enrich any culture.
The actors in this production overcame challenges as they struggled to understand the intensity of the poor conditions faced by the prisoners they were portraying.
“Food was scarce, disease loomed and physical and sexual violence were the norm,” Conry said. “It was very important that we be able to recreate the harsh world in which the play takes place, so that the common humanity and humor of the characters could also shine forth.”
The play will also show at 8 p.m. Saturday and Feb. 27 and 28 as well as March 1. Afternoon showings will be at 2 p.m. Sunday and Mar. 2.
Tickets are available online or by calling the box office at (713) 743-2929.