Hillsdale County’s community theater, The Sauk, mounted the world premiere of Lindsay McNair Patton’s “The Flower Girls”, last weekend.
The play followed the story of three semi-estranged sisters, Violet, Rose, and Lily, who come together for one night after years of not speaking to one another. The ensuing chaos includes fights, power outages, a potential pot brownie, scrabble, and several bottles of wine. Within the first fifteen minutes of the curtain rising, it was apparent that this show had captivated the audience, as they were already rolling in laughter, and soon thereafter, tears. As the sisters talk, and shout, through their issues, provoking various degrees of catharsis in their audience, they explore themes of sexuality, motherhood, love, and courage.
Among these, the show particularly fixated on the theme of family, and exactly how far one can go and still be welcomed back into theirs. Patton answers this question with a firm “never far enough.”
Julie Pratt, the actress who portrayed the middle sister, Rose, said that this play was an illuminating experience for her.
“This show opened up my mind and reminded me about perspective and perception,” Pratt said. “In every disagreement and every argument it is easy to dig in your heels and say ‘my perspective is right’ but it’s just one person’s view. Although hard, we have to consider the other person’s perspective. When we do, peace and reconciliation can happen. I think all of us need reminders to do this in our own sibling and family relationships.”
This sentiment embodies the Sauk’s goal as a theater. According to its mission statement, it aims to “enrich our community through shared theatrical experiences that inspire, nurture, challenge and educate artists and audiences.”
Sophomore Kirby Thigpen ventured forth from campus to see “The Flower Girls” Saturday night, and she said that the themes struck her personally.
“The play actually really made me think about how I have treated my siblings, and how I could definitely keep up with them better now that we are all going our separate ways,” Thigpen said. “It really does speak to a problem that everyone who has siblings has. It was also great to get out into the community and engage with the culture outside the college.”
The Sauk also carries out this objective by giving beginner and unproduced playwrights the chance to see their work carried to fruition, according to Trinity Bird, director of “Flower Girls,”
“We strongly believe the future of the theatre is dependent on encouraging and nurturing new works,” Bird said. “We annually produce new works by local, national, and international writers in our Sauk Shorts, an annual evening of 10-minute plays. Then, each summer, we bring playwrights on site for Plays-in-Development. We provide the writers the opportunity to receive feedback from a director, actors, and audience to help improve their plays. ‘The Flower Girls’ started in this program. To see the play go from plot outline to staged reading to full production has been an amazing experience.”
This dedication to budding artists has won the Sauk some national esteem. It has been selected as one of six theaters in the country to produce one of the American Association of Community Theatre New Play Fest award-winning plays in 2020.
In addition to “The Flower Girls,” The Sauk performed several other main, second, and third stage shows this year, including two large scale musicals and play readings over the summer. According to Bird, auditions draw interested thespians not only from Hillsdale County, but every surrounding county as well.