Oklahoma Christian’s production of “Tom Thumb”

Media Writing Assignment (March 26, 2010)

Oklahoma Christian presents production of British play “Tom Thumb”

Story Highlights:

  • “Tom Thumb” was produced in closer style to the original than the societal norm.
  • The production is part of a four-year plan to expose students to all types of plays
  • The cast and crew blended well from the beginning
  • As the play was written almost 300 years ago, the use of the English language was a slight barrier for students watching the performance

The Oklahoma Christian University theatre department performed “The Tragedy of Tragedies; or, The Life and Death of Tom Thumb the Great,” over two weekends in late February.  The performances were held on the last two Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. in Judd Theatre.

“Tom Thumb” was published in 1731 as a play written by Henry Fielding, which for actors today, can be rather challenging.

Differences from Norm

Men have frequently played the main role of Tom Thumb over the last century, but when the play was written, it was to be the part of a woman.  The directors for OC’s production decided to stick to the original plan for the role and cast Kyra Ruddy as Thumb.

“Tom Thumb” is rarely staged when it is performed in the United States, requiring the audience to use more of their imagination.  Professor of communication Barrett Huddleston also wanted to use some sort of puppet, which he did to perform the role of Glumdalca, which was done by three actresses.

Four-year Plan

According to Huddleston, one of the goals of the theatre program is to expose theatre students to as many styles, genres, and staging practices as possible.

Three years ago, Huddleston sat down with fellow professor Phil Reagan and discussed the types of plays they wanted OC students to be exposed to.  They came up with a four-year program that allowed them to—in that period—produce a play of many genres and requiring a different skill set.

Auditions were held for “Tom Thumb” and the upcoming topical play, “Two Rooms,” late in the fall semester, so the costume shop can start taking measurements of actors and begin making the costumes required for the performance.

Great Chemistry

Practices began after winter break.  The cast and crew quickly bonded quickly.

“There was a real all-hands-on-deck spirit in the cast and crew that I think shows a forward momentum for the program overall,” according to Huddleston.

“It was a great production,” freshman and lighting console operator Adam Doyle said.  “We got a lot of laughs out of the one-liners, and overall the production was very well done from tech all the way down to the actors.”

Spectators of the play were amazed that the production was pulled off so well.

“The production flowed very well,” freshman Caleb Griffin said.  “It seemed like the actors had great chemistry with each other.”

Different Language

Since the play was written in 1731, the use of the English language is different. The type of language used is called “Elizabethan pentameter.”

Some spectators said that, although they enjoyed the performance, it was a little bit difficult to understand the language in the show.

“I had an English class in my senior year of high school that focused on older, mostly British literature, so after a few minutes of listening to the show, I was able to comprehend what was happened and really enjoyed it,” spectator Andrew McClellan said.

While the show is in a style of English that most are not used to, spectators as well as the cast and crew really enjoyed the show and comprehended it well.

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