Program Notes from The Rimers of Eldritch
Some background on The Rimers of Eldritch, Upper School winter production
The cast and crew of THE RIMERS OF ELDRITCH have been hard at work since November creating a community, building relationships, and developing the characters that inhabit the fictional Midwestern town of Eldritch— population 70. This is an early play from Lanford Wilson (Pulitzer-prize winner for Talley’s Folly 1983). It is a re–imagining of the town he grew up in the Ozarks of Missouri. Wilson is famous for writing about people who are on the fringes; people who struggle, not unlike his fellow playwright, mentor, and Missourian, Tennessee Williams. Wilson is also known for writing specifically for a company of actors that he adored. When asked why he wrote plays, he said, “I’m excited by the actors and I’m crazy for theater. Being involved in the company, I have to do something so they’ll let me in.”
Rimers does not follow a linear progression. It is a collage of voices and moments that keep adding up and moving quickly from scene to scene, much like a film. It is an experiment in form. Wilson’s beautiful language, his resonant sense of place, his complex story, and his deeply empathetic love for these imperfect people make this a very intriguing piece to work on.
Director’s Note from Tiki Fuhro
I’m excited by the actors too. I could not be more proud of this extraordinarily brave cast and crew. They have wholeheartedly embraced the difficult world of this play. They learned acting techniques that helped them serve the play and their characters more fully. They showed their commitment in a variety of ways: bringing in food and holding an impromptu one-hour-long improvised church supper (replete with Bingo game and performed in character!); creating life onstage because they never left it; by choosing to believe in “Eldritch” they created it; digging deep to find the truth in a scene; allowing themselves to be vulnerable; doing their own research; shooting a trailer; designing a poster and t–shirt; writing about the process; and building a town from scratch. They asked tough questions and defended choices. They convinced me not to back off the tough moments (and slippery language) because—unlike some of the characters in the play—these students were willing to look truth square in the eye. They have invested so much and have made this process a joy.
My sincere hope, and I believe I share this hope with the company, is that people will leave the theater asking questions and talking about the play.
Acadia Weinberg (Mary Windrod)
In all honesty, I’ve been dreading the performances of this show since I first read the script. I keep having flashbacks to coming up from a “bend and snap” during Legally Blonde and instantly locking eyes with a sixth grader. Celebrating sexuality and confidence through risqué song and dance in front of an audience takes some level of bravery, but being complicit in a community’s cover-up of sexual violence and murder requires a whole new level of courage.
The Rimers of Eldritch is definitely not a play about rape. On the surface, there are numerous incidents of violence and hatred that are sprinkled generously throughout the story. Yet just about every character is trying their best to get by, acting and reacting in the only ways they know how. Though their flaws can be terrifying to observe, they are familiar to us as actors and audience members. It would be so easy to shove this play under the rug, dismissing its characters and messages as far-fetched, exaggerated, or even foreign to our daily routines. But Rimers captures so much perspective and truth on community, fear, and ignorance that it is impossible to do so.
I am thrilled to perform this show as a member of such an incredibly mature and devoted cast, and under the guidance of such a courageous, supportive, and inspiring director. The Rimers of Eldritch is the last Waynflete play I will be performing in (come see The Little Prince in April!), and I am so proud of everything we have accomplished together. We have conquered daunting material and are all very excited (and a little nervous) to share it with you. Welcome to Eldritch.
Robert Wilson (Walter)
I always tell people I meet that, no matter what, at some point in their life they should be involved in the production of a show. Whether it is standing underneath the spotlight as an actor or pounding away at nails and burning yourself on the lights working tech, the takeaway and experience is unmatched. It’s an amazing sense of community, ingenuity, and satisfaction to build from what the playwright has set out for you to accomplish.
Through my Waynflete acting career, I’ve been involved with the telling of stories ranging from Witches in Salem, to the life of a Young William Shakespeare, to Henry the Fifth’s conquering of France. This time, it’s something both simple and poetic: the story of the fictional ghost town of Eldritch and the hardships that everyone living there faces as they cope with the tragedies that unfold.
One of the things that interested me about Rimers upon first reading the script was the characters. Not a line of dialogue feels out of place or needs any changes—it all stays true to the characters and the period that the show is set in. The situations portrayed are real issues that people face and should be taken seriously. Whether it’s abuse, harassment, or sexuality—all these issues are approached head-on.
It was an amazing process to put this show together and build it from the ground up with the cast and crew. Hope you enjoy!