The Northwestern College theater department is currently performing a new show adapted by one of their own, Dr. Robert Hubbard. ‘The Power and the Glory’ opened last night and provokes interesting questions about spirituality while simultaneously transporting audiences to 1930s Mexico.
The play is an adaptation of Graham Green’s 1940 novel of the same name, and it has been adapted by Dr. Robert Hubbard, a theater professor at NW.
“I read this book in college and have loved it ever since,” Hubbard said. “It has been a long-standing dream to bring a production to the stage. I rejoiced greatly last spring when the Graham Greene estate granted production rights to our adaptation.”
Graham Greene wrote the novel based on his personal experiences in Mexico in the late 1930s. As one who favored reason over religion, his fascination with Catholicism and heresy led to the publication of the novel and offered an interesting take on common Christian themes.
Hubbard’s adaptation stayed true to Greene’s themes.
According to a quote from Hubbard in a theater department news release, “The novel — and now the script — is about the beauty that can be found in brokenness. The priest is like many of us: full of self-doubt and even despair, but still committed to following God’s call, however imperfectly.”’
The play revolves around the “Whiskey Priest,” performed by junior Jacob Christiansen, as he navigates the Mexican countryside, performing the Eucharist amidst violent socialist movements aimed at clergymen.
Other actors in the play include junior Kyle TenHulzen, who will play a socialist enforcer, the lieutenant; Gerrit Wilford, who will play Mestizo, a man who has left the priesthood, and Hana Spangler, also a junior, who will be playing a character of Hubbard’s creation, Penance.
Spangler’s character is, according to her, an attempt at an “anthromorphic manifestation of the priest’s guilty conscience (as documented in the novel’s narration).” She said it has been a challenge to mix in Penance’s unique character attributes while still allowing Greene’s original prose to be prominent.
As Hubbard’s dramaturge, Spangler had a front row seat to many of the large production steps, in addition to her role as an actress.
“My favorite part about the play is getting to be here for the whole process — from helping polish an earlier draft of the adaptation, to helping the production develop with my dramaturgy, to performing it onstage,” Spangler said.
The show has been created and directed with the help of the entire theater department and will be integrated with the FYS program.
“As a new work, the show has been a completely fresh and exciting experience,” said Hubbard.
Spangler is happy to have played a role in such a show.
“To me, this show is the epitome of the theatre department’s collaborative artistry,” Spangler said. “One of our professors wrote and directed it, student and faculty designers have produced an elaborate concept with fewer numbers on their crews than usual and we actors are working with a different style of theater than we have typically encountered … I hope that the audience, especially the first-year students, will have cause to be astounded at our department’s creative solidarity.”
Following yesterday’s opening performance, The Power and the Glory runs for five more shows, with a show tomorrow night at 7:30. Other show times include Nov. 20 and 21, also at 7:30 p.m., and Nov. 22, with shows at 2:00 and 7:30 p.m.