The Great Depression is one of the most documented times in human history. The photos from that era are etched in all of our minds: the faces, the destruction, the devastation and, of course, the dust all over the place. If we are all familiar with these people and the struggles they have faced, why should or would anyone want to see this on stage?
On the surface, The Grapes of Wrath is a story about the struggles of people in a difficult time in American history. The Depression is an era that everyone knows about: we’ve seen the photos and heard the stories from parents or grandparents that experienced it. The faces of those people are etched in each of our minds. But The Grapes of Wrath is more than that; it’s a story of perseverance, overcoming obstacles, the strengthening of families and, most importantly, hope. If the Joad family were lacking in any of these traits, this would indeed be a story difficult to swallow and a challenge to watch on stage.
Frank Galati took Steinbeck’s masterpiece and made it into a piece of theatre that maintains the traits mentioned above. Hope, the greatest of these, is evident in Ma (Janet Wright), who, despite the hardships, encourages her family to soldier on and finish the journey to California – and who, once there, provides for the family by bringing their spirits up. Without that hope and determination, I’m sure The Grapes of Wrath would quite a different story.
As part of the rehearsal process, the company had the opportunity to talk to some migrant workers. In this video clip Antoni Cimolino (director), Tom McCamus (Jim Casy) and Evan Buliung (Tom Joad) talk a bit about their time with the migrant workers and what they learned from them:
Why stage The Grapes of Wrath? It’s a story we are all familiar with. It’s relevant to our time. It gives us hope and shows that even when things might look their bleakest, we can still get through. We’ll get through with the help of those we have surrounded ourselves with. Come to Stratford and experience the trials, tribulations and survival of Ma, Pa, Tom and the rest of the Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath, playing at the Avon Theatre until June 1.
Come see The Grapes of Wrath June 4 or 7 for $39. Include A, B and C seating and the tickets must be purchased online. When ordering include promotion code 38784