Tensions and emotions rise in “The Clearing”


“The Clearing” was performed by the advanced acting class on Friday Mar. 10 and Sunday Mar. 12. “The Clearing” is a play written by Helen Edmundson, depicting the reign of Oliver Cromwell in Ireland in the 17th century, and the terror he imposed on Irish citizens. In the words of Edmundson “I wrote “The Clearing” at the time of civil war in former Yugoslavia amidst the expression of horror and disbelief at fellow Europeans displaying barbarism. Which one of us can be absolutely certain that, under similar circumstances, we would not be susceptible to propaganda?”IMG_0073

The play incorporates the role of external pressures through the story of Englishman Robert (played by senior Grady Wetherbee) and his Irish wife Madeleine (played by senior Caroline Dunlap). As tensions rise between the English protestants and the Irish, an order comes into effect stating that all citizens that opposed the rule of Cromwell must be relocated, or if they fail to meet the order, hanged. This order raises conflict with a neighboring family consisting of husband Solomon (played by junior Alec Opdyke) and wife (played by junior Ellie Coleman), as they attempt to avoid the order and retain their house and community. As if matters were not hectic enough, Madeleine’s brother Pierce (played by senior Nick Loduca) attempts to coax Madeleine into fighting for her homeland, and joining the Irish in their attempt to resist the English reign. Madeleine is able to manage the unbelievable amount of turmoil with her beloved servant Killaine (played by junior Maya Guzdar). However, after the English forces kidnap Killaine in the process of shipping her overseas, Madeleine is left clueless of what action to take, especially after the sturman (played by senior Cole Bloomfield) informs Robert that if he wishes to avoid transplantation, he must separate himself from Madeleine; an order which he later confirmed to the judge (played by senior Addie Perkins).

The play evoked a variety of emotions from audience members, one of whom being senior Josef Presburg-Crombie.

“I was emotional and proud. Emotional because I saw clear and strong relationships dwindle and the conflict progress,” Presburg-Crombie said, “Proud because of how thoroughly the play humanized every complex role and position of what was just a few pages in my history book.”

A fellow audience member, senior Danny DeBare, had a different take on the performance.

“I thought it was a chilling performance by all cast members portraying the dark side of humans in a tangible way. The live music [by “Mt. eddy”] really helped build the tension throughout,” DeBare said.