By Grace Hatton, Editor-in-Chief
he Warren Wilson Theatre Department will present their production of George Bernard Shaw’s classic play Pygmalion, April 24th-27th . Pygmalion follows the story of cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle and her journey to pass herself off as a member of higher London society by changing her accent. Pygmalion is also the play that inspired the beloved musical My Fair Lady. Pygmalion was chosen as the spring production for two reasons. The first was that it fits in with the Theatre Department’s decision to produce plays that focus on themes of bias (Pygmalion deals with class bias) and the second is that Pygmalion serves as the only senior project by a theatre major, Bennie Matesich. Matesich is the only graduating Theatre Major this year and Pygmalion reflects her focus, which is acting. In addition to performing the role of Eliza, Matesich will be writing a ten-page paper and presenting at the Capstone Carnival about her experience.
Matesich has been a staple of the Theatre Department for the past four years. She starred in her first Wilson Theatre production, Cloud 9 by Caryl Churchill, her first year at Wilson. Over the years, Matesich has performed in seven Wilson productions and has served as the Manager of the Scene Shop on eleven shows, building sets and making props. Originally, Matesich had wanted to be a Chemistry or Creative Writing Major but her involvement in Cloud 9 pointed her in the direction of the Theatre major.
“After being in Cloud Nine and talking with Candace, I realized I really wouldn’t be happy with any other degree,” says Matesich “I love performance, I love reading plays and analyzing them, and I love building sets! Getting a Theatre degree has been one of the best choices I’ve made since coming to Wilson.”
Theatre Professor Candance Taylor has been impressed with Matesich’s commitment to the Theatre Department over the past four years. “Bennie has been an invaluable, enthusiastic, and fully committed member of our department for four years,” says Taylor “She has been the head of the Theatre Set Construction crew for two years, and has managed her peers with good humor, solid skills, and she is reliably responsible.”
Matesich chose Pygmalion for her final Wilson product and senior project as a sort of bookend to her entire Wilson Theatre career. “My first play here was Cloud 9, which has a surprising number of similarities with Pygmalion,” says Matesich. Both plays use multiple British dialects, were directed by Candace Taylore, have themes of feminism and social commentary, and have strong female leads. Eliza Doolitle, the strong female lead in Pygmalion, is a character Matesich is excited to be portraying. “Eliza Doolittle is an amazing character who over the course of Pygmalion goes through a transformation both physically and emotionally, it is challenging and extremely rewarding to work with Shaw’s language to portray this character,” says Matesich “She is the sort of lead character actresses dream about playing.”
Through Pygmalion, Matesich has been able to exercise all her skills learned through the Theatre program in the past four years and Taylor has been impressed with Matesich’s ability to continue to evolve as a Theatre major. For this play alone Taylor says Matesich has learn three dialects, experienced physical and emotional expression, practiced her leadership skills, has demonstrated her performing skills, tested her courage and learned to speak clearly with confidence and great understanding. Taylor is also proud of Matesich for her ability to master Shaw’s language “It is daunting to do one’s learning in public, and Bennie has risen to the challenge of speaking George Bernard Shaw’s difficult language beautifully,” says Taylor.
Matesich hopes Pygmalion will offer the Wilson community a catalyst for interesting and meaningful conversations in the community, but she also wants people to enjoy the comedic elements of the play as well. “Pygmalion is a fun and interesting play, and the cast and crew have had a blast working on it,” says Matesich “I hope the Wilson community enjoys it as much as we’ve enjoyed working on it.”
Pygmalion runs from April 24th-27th in the Kittredge Theatre. For more information visit the Theatre Department’s home page at http://warren-wilson.edu/blogs/theatre/