Next week, Weber State University students have a chance to see Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Orestes Bronso come to life on stage in the performance of Charm.
Charm was written by Kathleen Cahill, a playwright and actor with the Salt Lake Acting Company. It was first performed in Salt Lake City in 2010. Tracy Callahan, the associate director of theater and head of the acting and directing program at WSU, is directing the performance. Callahan has worked at WSU for 16 years.
“I read it a couple of years ago; the Salt Lake Acting Company did it, and I work with them a lot,” Callahan said. “I had read the script and just fell in love with it.”
Callahan and Cahill both worked for the Salt Lake Acting Company, and Callahan said she asked for the script from Cahill because she thought the play would be a good piece to perform for students.
“I also thought it would be a cool play for a university because it deals with some of the great writers in history — Thoreau and Hawthorne and Emerson,” Callahan said. “So it had all of these smart people that we would be studying in English classes. The main character is a woman named Margaret Fuller, and some people know who she is, and some people don’t. She was a contemporary of all of these writers, and she was actually sort of ahead of her time.”
The play tells the story of these authors, with the focus mostly on Fuller, a feminist, journalist, critic and leader of the American transcendentalism movement, which began around the 1830s.
“Her father had taught her that she was very brilliant, and she was sort of not a cupcake in a time where women were told to be quiet and sit in the corner,” Callahan said. “She was pretty ahead of her time as far as women’s rights. She was also one of the first female war correspondents. She comes into the lives of these men, and they don’t know quite what to do with her.”
The parts of the main characters will be played by students Shawnee Johnston as Fuller, Trent Cox as Sam Ward, Trevor Dean as Emerson and Connor Padilla as both Hawthorne and Count O. WSU students also designed the costumes, lighting and sound.
“We auditioned last year,” Callahan said. “The actors have the script, and I asked them to look into researching the characters over the summer and be familiar with the play. When we came back, we started right away. We just started into rehearsals.”
The department of performing arts recommends the play for mature audience members only, as it contains adult content and language.
The play will be performed Oct. 5, 6, 9 and 10-13 at 7:30 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee on Oct. 13. An American Sign Language interpreter will be at the Oct. 6 performance. On Tuesday, Oct. 11, those in attendance will have a chance to hear Cahill discuss her work after the performance.
Tickets are $12 and $9 for all shows and are available in advance at Dee Events Center Tickets, the Browning Center Box Office, 1-801-626-7000 or www.weberstatetickets.com, or at the Browning Center Box Office up to one hour before the performance.
“I think it’s really a clever script,” Callahan said. “If you’ve been in school, you’ve read The Scarlet Letter, and this has the character of the man who wrote it. They say that Margaret Fuller was the muse or the inspiration for the main character in that. It’s a period piece, but it’s very accessible to a contemporary audience.”