Max Marcello | Staff Writer
Jan. 19, 2023
On January 25th Duquesne University’s Red Masquers will be putting on a production of “Mud,” which tells the story of Mae, a young woman struggling with poverty.
Determined to rise above her circumstances, Mae seeks to better herself by pursuing an education. Learning arithmetic and literacy skills creates tension between her and her roommate, Lloyd (played by Matthew Dudley).
Mae prioritizes her education which alienates her from Lloyd. When Lloyd develops an illness, Mae calls the neighbor Henry (played by Kyle Stiver) to help her understand the language of medicine and care for Lloyd.
The three-person cast quickly find themselves in a love triangle which paradoxically fuels the growing separation among them.
Another accident only accelerates Mae’s determination to break free of her circumstances and the two men holding her back.
From the beginning it was clear “Mud” was going to be a different show than anything the Masquers have put on before.
Doing “Mud” justice would require the production team to clear a few unique hurdles.
One such hurdle came from María Irene Fornés, the playwright, as “Mud” does not have a clearly defined time period nor location.
The challenge of giving “Mud” a setting fell to director Jill Jeffrey. Jeffrey, a professor of theater at Duquesne, decided to localize “Mud” to the Appalachian area.
“The play was written in 1983 and after the initial read it seems to take place in the 1930s,” she said.
However, after discussing with director John Lane, the decision was made to set the play in the modern era.
“It is not an urban scene, so we settled on the Appalachian areas where it is much more rural,” said Jeffrey.
Despite winning an Obie award, which recognizes outstanding theater performance for shows off Broadway, it remains unknown to most audiences.
“Mud” is a fictionalized portrayal of real-world poverty, giving it a distinct depth that attracted John Lane, theater arts director at Duquesne and executive director of the Red Masquers, to it.
“”Mud” deals with very difficult topics that don’t get talked about often. The play shows how immense poverty impacts every single thing that happens in peoples’ lives. I am hoping that audience becomes a little bit more empathetic about the overwhelming problems that poverty brings to people,” Lane said.
In “Mud”, the woman at the center of this struggle is Mae played by senior Anita Parrot. For Parrot, this is not just another show, it is her senior capstone project, and she fully embraced the production.
She has been a Red Masquer since her freshman year, and she said among the variety of roles she has played, Mae stood out.
“While I would not say I resonate with Mae, I think that we are similar in that we have big aspirations. Even if our circumstances are very different,” Parrott said.
The cast shares her view on their characters being deeply flawed people that have some redeeming qualities.
Dudley, a junior who plays the part of Lloyd, noted the process of bringing Lloyd to life in the theater.
“It’s been a challenge fitting the show in this small of a space, but I think we did a great job,” he said.
Final preparations are well underway, and the cast and crew eagerly await opening night. Each performance will conclude with a talk-back opportunity with the cast. “Mud” will debut Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. in the Genesius Theater.