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Rankin to direct ‘seminal’ 1990s play, Ridley’s 'Pitchfork Disney'

Barry McNamara
Miles Rose (as Presley Stray) and Amelia Chavez (Haley Stray) rehearse a scene from "The Pitchfork Disney," which will be staged at the Fusion Theatre Feb. 22-25.
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – One of the most important plays of the 1990s will be staged this month at Monmouth College, and there’s a possibility the cast and crew will have an opportunity for an encore performance.

Monmouth theatre professor Doug Rankin will direct Philip Ridley’s The Pitchfork Disney Feb. 22-25 at the College’s Fusion Theatre, 230 S. Main St.

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 Rankin, who learned about the play from department colleague Ron Zank. “It’s extremely close-up, and the audience should feel pretty intimidated. It feels a little bit dangerous.”

In fact, it felt dangerous enough to Rankin that he gave some second thought about bringing it to Monmouth. (Because of mature subject matter and language, audience members should be at least 16 years of age.)

“I was having a hard time figuring out what to do with it, student-wise,” said Rankin. “I didn’t know if they could handle the challenge, but the cast has amazed me their abilities.”

The cast of all underclassmen includes Amelia Chavez ’21 of Chicago and Miles Rose ’19 of Princeton, Ill., who play siblings, along with Declan Crego ’21 of New Glarus, Wis., and Richard Eyre ’20 of Mt. Prospect, Ill.

“Once we cast it last December and started rehearsal, it became a different play,” said Rankin. “There was so much in it that did not come through the pages that comes through the acting.”

Rankin said the play is “about two teenagers whose parents disappeared 10 years earlier. They’ve found a way to make it on their own without any contact with society. Then two outsiders come in and turn their world upside down. ... It’s got a lot of scary stuff, and it’s got a lot of funny stuff.”

The small cast allows for a different type of rehearsal, said Rankin, who is able “to run pretty much the entire show” at each session.

The set was designed by Natalie Curtis ’18 of Arlington Heights, Ill. Also assisting in the production are Galen Hughes ’18 of Genoa, Ill., costumes; Kyrsten Hume ’18 of Monmouth, make-up; AJ Green ’20 of Henderson, Nev., sound; and Iman Abdulrazzak ’18 of Gazientep, Turkey, music.

The relatively young four-person cast of all underclassmen has allowed Rankin to enter the play as a “participant production” in next year’s regional Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, which would be a first for Monmouth College.

“We won’t know until around December if it’s accepted for the competition, but we’re hoping for the best,” said Rankin.

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Monmouth College will present "The Pitchfork Disney" at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22-24 and at 2 p.m. Feb. 25 at the College’s Fusion Theatre, 230 S. Main St. 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.