Pulitzer winner Picnic starts November 7

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By David McGee

Nov. 7 will be opening night for “Picnic, “which will be put on by the Glendale Community College Theater Department.

Written by famous playwright William Inge, the play’s plot focuses on Hal, a rogue wanderer who has been to many places, and finally wants to settle down. But while the town is small and everyone knows each other, they are suspicious of Hal because he is an outsider and does not conform to the more conservative ways of the townsfolk.

Play director Virginia Ludders says one of the play’s strengths is the setting itself. “William Inge is able to capture what it’s like to live in a small town in America in the 1950s.”

The plot comes into focus when Hal boards with a widowed woman named Mrs. Potts, and falls in love with a girl named Madge. Madge’s attraction to Hal endangers her chance of marrying Alan Seymour, who would give Madge a life of luxury and ease. Hal is not well educated and is not as sophisticated. His only advantage is his charisma and charm, which many eye with suspicion.

The characters are constantly making hard choices as a result of the conflicts that have started with the entrance of Hal. Will Madge marry the wealthy suitor, or the new exciting stranger who has recently entered her life? What will the other townsfolk do about this stranger who is bringing this torrent of change into their tiny world?

Nancy Zilversmit, who plays, Flo, the mother of Madge, does not like Hal because, “She sees him for what he is: a troublemaker.”

But Dave Roberts, who plays Hal, argues that his character’s image among the townsfolk is a result of unfair bias.

“He’s constantly the vagabond, the womanizer. Madge is the pretty one and they see beyond each other’s image.”

Roberts explains the larger, universal theme at work in the play. “It’s about perceptions of other people. When you see somebody, you continue to see them in that light even though they might not fit that role.”