By: Christi Rutledge
Since Canadian Thanksgiving is right around the corner, I thought there would be no better time to talk about the power of the family. As we prepare to snuggle down this long weekend, let’s take a quick look at a production this season that makes me feel especially thankful: The Grapes of Wrath (it inspires gratitude in a very different way from The Homecoming – but that’s a whole other story and a whole other blog ). More powerful than the poverty, addictions, violence or tragedy is the force of family in this production. Frank Galati’s adaptation focuses on the heart of an incredible family as it brings Steinbeck’s story of the Joads to life on stage.
As the Joad family is tested and their material goods are taken away, what remains strong is the desire and the need for support from one another. The family is resilient throughout the production; in my opinion, this is largely thanks to the strong role that the women play in keeping the family together. Ma Joad, played by Janet Wright, harnesses the family and gives them direction, purpose and advice when the going gets tough — and it gets pretty tough. When Rose of Sharon (played by Chilina Kennedy) loses her baby and it seems that the family has nothing for which to be grateful, Ma once again pulls the family together. If you have read the book, then you already know about Rose of Sharon’s final act of benevolence. If you haven’t, I won’t spoil the end for you.
While some people might feel inclined to be upset by all of the loss, I think that there is a bigger picture to this play. This is a piece of theatre that reinforces the importance of families sticking together, placing one another before oneself and, most of all, being thankful for what you have. I’ve seen this show a couple times now and still leave the theatre feeling hopeful – and, more importantly, incredibly thankful.
Check out this great clip from The Grapes of Wrath as the family gives thanks at the dinner table:
I am in love with this production of The Grapes of Wrath and I want to make sure that you see it this season – so I’m sharing a special ticket deal with you and your families. Until the end of the season, enjoy $29 tickets to any production of The Grapes of Wrath. To redeem this great offer, go to www.stratfordshakespearefestival.com and log in with promotion code 40963.