Hester Prynne takes the walk of shame through Fullerton College’s Campus Theater, in Nathanial Hawthorne’s classic, “The Scarlet Letter.”
Under the direction of professor Michael Mueller, the students of FC’s Theatre Arts Department deliver passionate performances reminiscent of the talent one might see Off-Broadway.
The elaborate storyline centers around a valiant woman by the name of Hester Prynne, who’s played vehemently by FC Musical Theatre major, Jane Greene.
“Getting to step into the shoes of someone like Hester is such a great experience,” said Greene.
In dramatic fashion, the play opens with Hester thrust center stage, atop a grand town scaffold with the scarlet “A” adorned over her heart. She’s cradling her small child, whose father she refuses to reveal the identity of.
The plotline throughout this nearly two-hour production, is the shameful burden she, and the mystery man, bears as a consequence of their “sin.”
The village scandal would likely have gone unnoticed had it not resulted in the birth of their illegitimate child, named Pearl.
“Pearl and Hester have a really good relationship because they only have each other,” Greene said. “Everything Hester does is to protect her daughter.”
The grown-up version of Pearl is played by Natalie Carter, who gives a visibly emotional performance. Her character attempts to reconcile the relationship between her and her mother.
As the play progressed, Carter attempted to identify with how someone in Pearl’s highly unusual predicament might perceive their reality.
“I’m still discovering this person,” Carter said. “I love connecting with the character I play and getting to understand the time period.”
The set was artfully assembled with orange and yellow fall leaves, strewn about bamboo style tree trunks, delicately outlined by a blue brick perimeter. An immaculately crafted rotating scaffold sat anterior to a tasteful cobalt blue backdrop, silhouetting the period-perfect, puritanical attire.
The costumes were custom crafted for each actor, with the females donning their protective bonnets and large white removable collars. The 20-member cast frequently graced the aisles of the cozy theater as they made their entrances.
One pitfall of the venue was the occasional poor sound quality, but the many captivating scenes, imbued by passionate performances, kept this minor nuisance to a minimum.
The character of Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale was brilliantly executed by former track star turned FC Theatre major, O’Bryan Williams. Being a preacher, Dimmesdale would elegantly quote Scripture to bring comfort to those atoning for sins. One particular utterance captivated the auditorium.
“If God is love, how can love be sin,” asked Dimmesdale. “God is love: and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him.”
This tugging-at-the-heartstrings adaptation was made possible by Carol and Jonathan Gilligan and the resonating theme throughout was not its premise regarding sin, nor its influence upon social order. The psychology of guilt is what ultimately took center stage.
Due to the profound inner turmoil shame creates, the ill effects can manifest physically, and the cast did an astounding job of communicating what was unspoken.