‘Molly Sweeney’ theatre production will be streamed for viewing

The Ripon College Department of Theatre will share its next play, “Molly Sweeney,” by Brian Friel, via streaming at ripon.edu/molly-sweeney from 12:15 a.m. Central time Wednesday, Nov. 11, through 11:45 p.m. Central time Saturday, Nov.14. The entire play can be viewed for 48 hours after “ticket purchase” or up until the ending time on Nov. 14. Viewers will need to click the “Rent Video” button for access, but there is no rental fee.

The play is recommended for high school age and above, although there is no content that would prevent a middle schooler from viewing the play.

The poignant story reveals three individuals during a year when they were on a quest to achieve vision for the blind Molly, played by Brooklyn Hogan ’22 of Barneveld, Wisconsin. Molly, functionally blind since shortly after her birth, is bright, personable and a successful licensed massage therapist in a health club with a rich, full life.

At 40 years old, she marries Frank Sweeney, played by Levi Keen ’24 of Twin Lakes, Wisconsin. Also 40, he is a man with a galloping curiosity and many divergent interests including helping others and turning a profit. After two years of marriage, Frank discovers a world renowned ophthalmologist, a mysterious Mr. Rice, played by Christian Schmidt ’23 of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Mr. Rice is working at their little hospital in rural Ireland. Frank presses him to evaluate Molly’s vision. The life-changing promise of sight is irresistible. After Mr. Rice examines Molly’s eyes, he believes vision could “perhaps” be restored.

The play’s director, Emeritus Professor Robert Amsden, says the play is one of the great ones of the 20th century. “For me, the play not only provides the vicarious experiences of what we come to the theatre for — love, laughter, turmoil, jealousy, rage, humility, friendship, bewilderment, anger, etc. — but connects the audience with the larger questions of what it means to be human,” he says. “As we watch the characters move through a surprisingly short period in their lives, many of our own thoughts and reflections come to the surface: memories of hopes, of dreams, of disappointments and of responses to unanticipated consequences.”

Associate Professor John Dalziel is the scenery and lighting designer, technical director and coordinator of digital resources for recording the performance. Visiting Professor Susan McDaniel Hill is the costume designer and costumer, and Breana Smits ’21 of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, is the stage manager. Director of Digital Media Ben Cleveland, is the video recording editor.

Friel (1929-2015) is one of Ireland’s most accomplished playwrights, noted for innovative playwriting techniques and for presenting the continuing struggle of the Irish people to establish a healthy personal identity after the British oppression forever changed Ireland. His most famous plays are “Philadelphia, Here I Come |(1964), “Faith Healer” (1979) “Translations” (1980) and “Dancing at Lughnasa” (1990), which was staged at Ripon College in 1996. His plays are beautifully written with nearly poetic language that reveals deeper and deeper insights into our humanity as they progress to their conclusions, Amsden says.

Associate Professor John Dalziel is the scenery and lighting designer, technical director and coordinator of digital resources for recording the performance. Visiting Professor Susan McDaniel Hill is the costume designer and costumer, and senior Breana Smits of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, is the stage manager. Ben Cleveland, director of digital media and video services, is the video recording editor.

(Photo: Levi Keen ’24 as Frank Sweeney)


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