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'The Pitchfork Disney' returns to College stage, Oct. 30-31

Barry McNamara
Miles Rose (Presley) and Amelia Chavez (Haley) are pictured last February rehearsing a scene for "The Pitchfork Disney."
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – The Monmouth College Department of Theatre has the perfect production to celebrate the Halloween season – an encore production of Philip Ridley’s dystopian and unsettling The Pitchfork Disney.

The “in your face” British play will be staged Oct. 30-31 in the College’s Wells Theater.

The Pitchfork Disney was considered by many critics one of the most important plays of the 1990s, and it’s really the seminal play of the style of British, in-your-face theatre,” said the play’s director, Monmouth theatre professor Doug Rankin. “It’s extremely close-up, and the audience should feel pretty intimidated. It feels a little bit dangerous.”

Rankin directed The Pitchfork Disney when the Department of Theatre presented it for the first time last February. The four-member cast is also the same: Amelia Chavez ’21 of Chicago and Miles Rose ’19 of Princeton, Ill., play siblings Presley and Haley, along with Declan Crego ’21 of New Glarus, Wis., and Richard Eyre ’20 of Mount Prospect, Ill.

The play is about two teenagers who have lived without their parents for about a decade. The teenagers have found a way to make it on their own without any contact with society, and by eating a lot of chocolate. Then two outsiders come into their home, turning the teens’ world upside down. Because of the play’s mature subject matter and language, audience members should be at least 16 years of age.

“It’s got a little bit of creepiness, it’s dark, it’s mysterious and we really don’t know what it means exactly, but the audience will all probably get a little something different out of it because it is sort of enigmatic in terms of the plot,” Rankin said. “It’s kind of what your mind makes of it.”

The encore production of The Pitchfork Disney will be entered in the upcoming regional Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

“It’s a small cast, which is critical, in that we knew we were picking it to compete at the regional Kennedy Center festival, and it would have to tour,” said Rankin. “By having only four cast members and a fairly small set with small lighting demands, it worked really well.”

Although The Pitchfork Disney hasn’t changed from its first staging at Monmouth, Rankin said the actors have, and that’s a good thing.

“The thing I’ve enjoyed the most is seeing our actors grow,” said Rankin. “I’ve seen those same actors rehearsing for (the Oct. 25-28 staging of A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and they really blow me away by their abilities.”

In addition to the actors’ growth, another twist with the encore production is that the play will be presented at the on-campus Wells Theater instead of the downtown Fusion Theatre, where it was staged in February.

“It’s a fun staging,” said Rankin. “We’re putting the audience up on the stage, not out in the house, so it will be a different feel than a lot of the shows we do at the Wells. It’s also Halloween and the night before. On the night before, we’re going to be following the performance with the (free) film Sweeney Todd, which is somewhat appropriate for the Halloween season.”

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Monmouth College will present “The Pitchfork Disney” at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30-31 at the College’s Wells Theater. Tickets can be purchased online at Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and students, and $6 for students and faculty with a Monmouth College ID.