John Steinbeck’s play about oppression, isolation and friendship is just as powerful and timely today as when it was first produced on Broadway in 1937. Set in California during the Great Depression, Of Mice and Men centers around George and his dim-witted friend Lennie, two disenfranchised migrant ranch workers who share a simple dream: a home of their own, where they can raise rabbits. One of the great classics of American literature as well as of the American stage, Of Mice and Men is considered to be a significant factor in Steinbeck’s Nobel Prize in Literature.
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Although it is very much a period piece, the themes explored in Of Mice and Men are both timeless and timely. George and Lennie, the pair of drifters around whom the story revolves, are companions struggling to survive in hard economic times, with their hearts set on someday achieving the American dream of personal and financial independence. “Just on this merit alone, the piece has profound contemporary resonance,” says Producer Sharman Altshuler. “While this story is a sad one, exploring loneliness, loss and the fragility of dreams, it is not a tragedy. Woven into the fabric of the characters’ troubled lives are threads of deep human bonds and relentless hope. Even the story’s end speaks not only of profound loss, but of profound love.”
Not only its economic themes, but the themes of racism, sexism and social bias that comprise some of the many layers of Steinbeck’s play are as potent today as they were day the piece was written. Of Mice and Men is a work that reaches the deepest places of what makes us human and challenges us to examine ourselves and our relationships to our world. “In this era of economic hardship,” says Altshuler, “where our technology has changed and challenged the nature of interpersonal communication, and where issues of social inequality persist, audiences will find particular relevance and resonance with this Steinbeck classic.”
As part of every production, Moonbox spotlights the work of a local non-profit organization, helping them to increase the reach and impact of their work. For this production, Moonbox is pleased to partner with More Than Words (MTW), “a nonprofit social enterprise that empowers youth who are in the foster care system, court-involved, homeless, or out of school to take charge of their lives by taking charge of a business.”
About More Than Words
According to Jodi Rosenbaum Tillinger, Executive Director More Than Words, “We are thrilled to join forces with Moonbox to celebrate their production Of Mice and Men and to connect diverse audiences with MTW and our inspiring youth. It is through this kind of partnership that powerful connections are generated and everyone gains and grows. With our recent expansion to the South End, we look forward to meeting new volunteers, book donors, customers and community members who champion the transformational work our youth do each day. And, we especially look forward to connecting our staff and youth to the theater!”
Of Mice and Men marks the fourth production, and first non-musical for Moonbox, with Dan Rodriguez composing and debuting new incidental music for the show. The cast includes Moonbox alumni Phil Tayler* (George) and Phil Thompson**(The Boss) (both of whom appeared in Moonbox’s April 2012 production of Floyd Collins), as well as Moonbox newcomers Erica Spyres* (Curley’s Wife), Ed Peed* (Candy), Harry McEnerney (Lennie), Calvin Braxton (Crooks), Glen Moore (Curley), Jordan Sobel (Carlson), Tom Shoemaker (Slim), and Steven Emanuelson (Whit). This is a link to cast bios.
The production and design teams include Sharman Altshuler (Producer), Allison Olivia Choat (Director), Dan Rodriguez (Composer, Music Director), Alexandra Jameson (Stage Manager), Sarah Gasser (Assistant Stage Manager), Fabian Aguilar (Costume Design), Jeffrey E. Salzberg (Lighting Design), Dan Costello (Sound Design), Courtney Nelson (Scenic Design), Alexandra Herryman (Properties Master), Dorothy Childs (Dramaturg) and Meron Langsner (Fight Consultant).
Performances are Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets are available by calling the Boston Theatre Tickets $25 students -$30. For more information and tickets call Boston Theatre Scene Box Office at 617-933-8600 or online at bostontheatrescene.com.
About Moonbox Productions
Moonbox Productions was founded in 2011 by Producer/Artistic Director Sharman Altshuler. It is based in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is dedicated to supporting local arts and local artists, and to connecting communities to the non-profit organizations that serve them. To fulfill their artistic mission, Moonbox taps the deep well of talent within their own communities to bring top quality theatrical experiences to stages throughout the greater Boston area. To fulfill their social mission, they partner with a local non-profit organization for each show, giving them visibility on their website and in their promotional materials, as well as giving them access to their audiences in order to raise awareness of their cause, create connections within the community, and increase the reach and impact of their work.
About More Than Words
MTW is a nonprofit social enterprise with a mission to empower youth who are in foster care, court-involved, homeless and out of school, to take charge of their lives. Youth manage a used online and retail bookstore and café and gain marketable skills including everything from customer service, to shipping out 200 books a day all over the world, to making drinks in the café. They also learn the basics such as how to show up on time for their job consistently, despite so many challenges in their lives. Youth have 2 jobs- the Business job working 20+ hours per week learning how to run the businesses and their “You” job, which is the hardest and most important part, taking control of their lives. Youth ages 16-21 are supported by Transitions managers to get back in school, stay in school, get a GED and map concrete plans for their future work, college and life. More Than Words sticks with youth for the long haul and after 6-12 months of working on both of their jobs, staff continue to support them for 24 months after they transition other jobs or college to ensure they hit successful outcomes in education, employment and self-efficacy.