Outside Looking In

By on 27 March, 2015 in Art, Greg Thornton with 0 Comments


“We wander, question. But the answer waits in each separate heart – the answer of our own identity and the way by which we can master loneliness and feel that at last we belong.”  ― Carson McCullersThe Mortgaged Heart: Selected Writings

Listening to The Member of the Wedding as we sit around the table in our early rehearsals of this wonderful play, I was taken back to the time I first saw the film of Carson McCullers’ The Heart is A Lonely Hunter. It was an intense experience as I sat in that dark movie theater, totally mesmerized by the performance of Alan Arkin as John Singer, the deaf mute who works so hard trying to help people. Within this tortured world of his, and inside of Mr. Arkin’s performance, there is humor, heartbreak, and raw honesty. To watch this film was exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. Carson McCullers’ work touches on so many challenging facets of human nature. This is particularly true of The Member of the Wedding. There is Frankie Addams, the twelve-year-old girl struggling desperately, to find out who she is and discover her place in the world. There is John Henry, the seven-year-old boy who is Frankie’s best friend and her worst irritant. There is Berenice Sadie Brown, the house-keeper and surrogate mother, who displays to these two precocious children her font of amazing wisdom, truth and care. Surrounding this trio at home, centered as they are in their kitchen, is a world hovering with shadows like the overbearing elm tree that sits in their yard.

Early rehearsals are the time to explore the text. What is the playwright telling us, how is the character revealing herself, and why is that word used, where is the silence, the unspoken moment manifested? Actors spend a lot of time with the script while they are on their own, away from the rehearsal room, at their own kitchen tables. But when the dialogue is joined with the full company around the rehearsal room, the play comes off the page, jumps to life, and a strange and wonderful electricity thrums in the space.

Carson McCullers’ language fills the air at the Playhouse these days and nights and I find myself closing my eyes and just listening. She is a uniquely gifted writer, swathed in the southern temperament, exploring the often painful, at times exotic, and equally intriguing world of the outsider. It is a world McCullers knew all too well, it seems. Never accepted really, always ridiculed for her manner and physical characteristics, she struggled mightily to be heard. She is Frankie Addams, desperate to be a part of something, anything, to feel accepted, to not be looked upon as “the other.” Swirling around in what would now be described as teenage angst, we feel for her and with her, laugh at her curious world view, wonder how she’ll end up. Her soul-mate, mother, and confidant Berenice has the answer, but wants Frankie to find it for herself. Such a discovery awaits our audience as well. Please join us for The Member of The Wedding by Carson McCullers, which runs from April 23 through May 2.

Cast & Crew: The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers

Berenice Sadie Brown: Yvette Jones–Smedley
Frankie Addams: Rita Pearson-Daley
John Henry Wes:t Charlie Hill
Jarvis: Kodi Robertson
Janice: Bailey Johnson
Mr. Addams: Buddy Rousso
Mrs. West: Sarah Worley
Helen Fletcher: Silver Wallace
Doris: Gracie Hughes
T.T Williams: Greg Faulkner
Honey Camden Brown: Jeffrey Lewis
Barney MacKean: Will Chieves
Berenice Sadie Brown Understudy: Georgette Norman

Director: Greg Thornton
Set Design: Layne Holley & Joe Collins
Costume Design: Danny Davidson
Lighting Design: James Treadway
Sound Design: Greg Thornton & James Treadway
Stage Manager: James Treadway


  • The Member of the Wedding: April 23-May 2. Thursday-Saturday 7:30, Sunday 2:00
  • The Joe Thomas, Jr. Guitar Pull: Tuesday April 28 (Note the date change), 7:00.
  • Southern Voices: May 9, 7:30.

Greg Thornton is the Artistic Director of the Cloverdale Playhouse.

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