Austin Theatre Brings Economic Realities to Life
Stocks plummet, jobs are lost, a million publications report the bad news. But leave it to Austin to address current economic hardship with a wonderfully crafted, epic performance of John Steinbeck’s THE GRAPES OF WRATH.
For many Austinites, it doesn’t take a newspaper to tell them that times are rough. Talking with their families about job loss and this generation’s financial struggles, however, might require a different, more relatable teaching tool. ZACH Theatre began its timely production of THE GRAPES OF WRATH for precisely this reason.
“I had some sense that economically we weren’t going to be in the same position as a nation that we were in last year,” Dave Steakley, ZACH’s artistic director, said about adding THE GRAPES OF WRATH to 2009’s production schedule. “We always experience economic change during the year of a Presidential election of some kind,” he said, “although I didn’t know we would find ourselves in a set of circumstances that would begin to mirror what Americans were experiencing in the 1930’s.”
THE GRAPES OF WRATH tells the story of the Joad family amidst the backdrop of 1930’s America. The Joads didn’t envision America’s bread basket suddenly turning into a dust bowl, and during their trip from their dust-covered farm in Oklahoma to California the Joad’s 11-member family dwindles to only four members in the final scene.
Family is at the heart of THE GRAPES OF WRATH production. Audience members will find themselves inspired by the sacrifice, charity and ultimate redemption of the Joad family’s journey that celebrates family, determination, love and hope.
If nothing else, THE GRAPES OF WRATH will provide families with a way to talk about tough times with teenagers and young adults who might be experiencing a financial downturn for the first time in their lives.
THE GRAPES OF WRATH begins tomorrow and plays through May 10 on ZACH’s Kleberg Stage. Tickets are available online.