Amish Acres

Amish Acres® Historic Farm and Heritage Resort is Listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is America's most complete Amish heritage experience featuring historic interpretation, culinary and performing arts, lodging, and shopping.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

What's True? And What Do I Believe?

We're sneaking up on the thirtieth anniversary of the syndication of the famed "Calvin and Hobbes" comic strips, drawn and written by Bill Watterson, and in a way, it's worth thinking about that famed boy and his tiger when considering another play, "Harvey," about an affable man and his invisible six-foot-three inch friend who would look a lot like a rabbit if we could see him.

Artist Bill Watterson was notorious for refusing to give interviews or licensing his creations for things like stuffed animals. In part it was to leave open the question of just how "real" Hobbes the tiger was. To others Calvin could be seen as an ordinary boy carrying around a stuffed tiger, but we the readers, along with Calvin, saw him as a rather clever talking tiger who lived an independent existence from little boy.

In an insane era, when shattering events cause talking heads of all stripes to circle the wagons and defend their viewpoint with a destructive fierceness we all have to ask ourselves, "What's true? And what do I want to believe?"

We're not the only ones to live in a world turned upside down. Playwright Mary Chase wrote "Harvey" during World War II, and it opened in 1944. Set in the library of the Dowd family mansion, and in sanitarium with the deceptive title "Chumley's Rest," it centers around the affable Elwood P Dowd, a mild eccentric who insists that he is accompanied by Harvey, an invisible pooka, an Irish spirit, who takes the form of a six foot, three and a half inch rabbit who walks on two legs.

His social climbing sister Veta, concerned for the family's reputation, realizes she must make some hard choices, and that perhaps Elwood needs to be committed and subjected to various "treatments" that will "cure" him.

But, as director Jeremy Littlejohn points out, "People are drawn to Elwood., They unburden themselves to him. His whole outlook on life is wonderful." In some ways, Littlejohn said, Elwood is Christ-like. Littlejohn was first attracted to the show by James Stewart's performance in the movie adaptation. "It's just a charming play, very funny, very stylistic. 
Everything you need is on the page. All I really need to do is get out of its way."“Harvey” is a very funny play, which has the effect of insuring its message works its way into our hearts. Humor is perspective, after all, nothing more or less.Which reality do you want to live in? The reality of a man who’s friends with a rabbit named Harvey? A boy who talks to his tiger? Or the reality of a gun-toting racist who imagines he’ll start a race war in America if he shoots up a church in Charleston?

The cast includes Travis Smith as Elwood P. Dowd, Rita Kurtz as Veta Louise Simmons, Elsa Scott as Myrtle Mae Simmons, Pam Gunterman as Miss Johnson and Betty Chumley, MoMo Lamping as Mrs Ethel Chauvenet, Katherine Yacko as Ruth Kelly, R.N., Douglas Campbell as Duane Wilson, Ryan A. Schisler as Lyman Sanderson, M.D., Charles Burr as William R. Chumley, M.D., T.J. Besler as Judge Omar Gaffney, and Travis Bird as E.J. Lofgren.

"Harvey," opens in a limited three week run October 21 at the Round Barn Theater at Amish Acres, and runs through November 8. For reservations and information call 800-800-4942. 

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