The Play Runs January 9 through February 2 in the Ruth Nagle Jones Theatre

January 10, 2014

The Wellesley College Summer Theatre program kicked off 2014 with the January 9 opening of The Clearing at the Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre. The play is one of two productions presented by the WCST this season, and is also featured in a profile that appeared recently in the Boston Globe celebrating the life of the theatre’s benefactor, Ruth Nagel Jones 42.

The Clearing, written by Helen Edmundson, is the story of Robert, an English landowner, and his Irish wife Madeline, who find themselves on opposite sides of a cruel divide. Neighbor is pitted against neighbor as the forces of Oliver Cromwell wreak havoc on the countryside. It is a stunning tale of treachery, romance, and passion set in 17th-century Ireland.

Under the direction of Nora Hussey, local actor Woody Gaul and Wellesley student Angela Bilkić lead the show, which includes a stellar cast and crew. Its theme of ethnic pride and conflict is addressed in Hussey’s director’s notes in the show program:

“It is now over a decade since WSTC explored this historical and intensely personal drama of ethnic hatreds and the ‘cleansing’ that accompanies them. One might have harbored the faint hope that such stories would fade into the pages of history, and be replaced with a new wave of understanding. A quick glance through any news media will quickly relieve us of that delusion. When asked why I wanted to revisit this tale of the 17th century my answer has been simple: because it still resonates.

“Although this drama is set in Ireland in the 1650's,” Hussey’s notes continue, “it was written in response to the Bosnian conflict and is sadly applicable to a myriad of conflagrations across the globe. Yet even as we tell it, I remain convinced, as the late poet Seamus Heaney was, that in stories and literature we find our common humanity and even possibly healing.” She ends with a quotation from The Cure at Troy by Irish poet and playwright Seamus Heaney:

When history says don't hope
On this side of the grave
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.

The Clearing will run through February 2, 2014. Tickets, which are available by calling the box office at 781.283.2000, are $10 for students and seniors, and $20 general admission. WCST's next show will be Noel Coward’s Hay Fever, which is scheduled to run May 29-June 22.