By: Kian Hagerman
Susan Zeder’s “Mother Hicks” will be performed on the MCC Theatre stage at the Southern and Dobson campus in December.
Zeder has won the Distinguished Play award four times from the American Alliance of Theatre and Education, including one for “Mother Hicks” in 1987.
A play set during the Great Depression in the town of Ware, it mainly follows the story of a deaf man named Tuc, a girl referred to in the play solely as “Girl” and the title character.
MCC student Kiri Malolo, who plays Girl, said she found the character relatable.
“She’s trying to find out who she is and where she came from,” Malolo said.
People of the town think of Mother Hicks as an outcast, even a witch.
Despite the prejudice of the town, Girl establishes a relationship with Mother Hicks.
The story is told through both poignant poetry and sign language that expresses the self-discovery of the characters, which director of theatre activities Kevin Dressler said was uniquely appealing about the play.
“One of the interesting concepts is that the play uses poetry and sign language to communicate,” Dressler said. “It gives the audience a lot of variety, which I think creates interest.”
Tuc is also an outsider in the society, different because of his difficulty hearing; Malolo felt this drew a parallel with society.
“If you ever see someone come in contact with a deaf person, they are scared,” Malolo said.
She felt that the fear is misplaced, and that the play evokes thought about this.
Conveying the part of Tuc provides unique challenges, as most audience members aren’t fluent in sign language.
“There are times when people translate what he says,” Malolo said.
She went on to say that there are other times when the audience is left to figure out contextually what Tuc is saying.
Part of a trilogy of plays referred to as the Ware trilogy, the main theme throughout the series is the search for a place, a desire for belonging.
The play also touches on the nature of friendship and the struggles of life, made all the more apparent by the era it is set in.
The MCC production will utilize a multi-level stage that provides a visually dynamic space for the actors to perform on.
“Debra has me running all over the place,” Kiri said of the director, Debra K. Stevens. “It’s not challenging, but it’s definitely more than I expected.”
With a unique method of storytelling and thought-provoking character development, the plot of “Mother Hicks” has much on offer for audiences.
Performance dates for “Mother Hicks” include Dec. 5, 6, 11, and 12 at 7:30 p.m. and matinee performances on Dec. 6 and 13 at 2 p.m. in the MCC Theatre.