Lee College Grapes of Wrath

Lee College students prepare for the school’s presentation of “Grapes of Wrath.” From top are Blaine Glaspie and Ian Philo.

“Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck was first a Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, then an epic motion picture. Now, Lee College Theatre will bring Frank Galati’s 1990 Tony Award-winning dramatization to life. 

Under the direction of theater instructor, Kim Martin, “Grapes of Wrath” will open Friday at 7:30 p.m. on the main stage at the Lee College Performing Arts Center.

This production of the “Grapes of Wrath” will also be performed as part of the Texas Community College Speech and Theatre Association’s 2018 Play Festival at Texas A&M University-Commerce, University Playhouse, March 1. The production is also being performed as part of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

Martin says his vision for this Lee College production is “to bring life to John Steinbeck’s powerful and moving story in a way that makes the best use of a small cast and minimal staging effects.” A large part of the action takes place in and around an old jalopy of a truck which Martin adds, “is like one of the characters.”

Lee College theater student Ian Philo designed and built the set piece that is the Joad’s old pick up truck. In addition to working headlights, the truck moves on stage as it transports the Joad family out of their desperate situation. Taking center stage, the truck is a symbol of the people’s determination not to be stopped in their struggle against overwhelming odds as the powers that be kick the Joads at every turn. 

The story takes place in the 1930s when families fled the destructive dust storms that were part of the agricultural landscape during the Great Depression. The Joad family leave their ruined farm in Oklahoma to journey to the promised land of California. Tom Joad (played by Ian Philo) has just been paroled from prison. He is reunited with Jim Casy (played by Lee student, Tyler Sanders), a former preacher who has given up on preaching and accepted the idea that sin is just what people do. Hoping for a better life, Tom Joad along with Ma Joad (played by Mary Arrigo), their family and Jim Casy decide to travel to California. 

As the family travels along Route 66, in their rickety old truck, they meet others struggling with the same fear and dreams of prosperity in a west coast paradise. 

“The social and economic struggles of the dust bowl years is not unlike some of the challenges faced by culturally disadvantaged people today,” says director, Kim Martin. 

Other cast members include, Logan Romero, Abigail Vernier, Reynaldo Bueno, Jr., Roy Brooks, Lindsey Eddies, Roque Gonzalez, Victoria Johnson, Blaine Grover-Garcia, Tyler Philo, Marci Barrientos, Blaine Glaspie, and Marc Glover-Garcia. 

Performances continue, Feb. 16, 17, 23, 24 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 25 at 2:30 p.m. For tickets and information go to www.lee.edu/pac  Or call 281-425-6255. Lee College PAC is located at 811 W. Gulf St.

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