By Kate Ellis, News Editor
October 12, 2023
The Ouachita Theater Department opened its fall theatrical season with the one-act comedy Pullman Car Hiawatha, which ran from Sept. 21-25 in Verser Theater. The comedy followed the trials and tribulations of ordinary passengers aboard a train traveling from New York to Chicago. While the landscape changed outside of the train as it barrelled from city to city, the hearts of those inside it changed as well. Passengers discussed topics ranging from the human condition to mankind’s purpose. Senior musical theater major Sarah Franklin, who assumed the role of the protagonist Harriet, shares why the department chose this play.
“[The play] had a shorter run time, making it a nice way to ease both performers and audiences into our theatrical season,” Franklin said. “I think the goal of us doing this play was to allow our audiences to be able to be able to at least momentarily broaden their view of the world and their place in it. To realize that we are important even within the grand scheme of the universe and that we contribute to the world in our own small, special way.”
Although Franklin has several years of experience in the theater department under her belt, each new production offers room to grow her skills and hone her craft.
“This type of role was different from those that I have played in the past,” Franklin said. “Towards the climax of the show, I performed a rather long monologue, which is something I have never done within the context of an actual show before. Thornton Wilder, the playwright, had an amazing way with words, and being able to speak his words uninterrupted was an honor and a challenge. The monologue itself dealt with themes of death, self-worth and acceptance, which are things that many people struggle with processing, myself included. Getting to contemplate those things every night and bring that character to life throughout the rehearsal and show process was something that I loved, and [it] definitely helped me to learn and grow both as an actress and a person.”
For Franklin, Pullman Car Hiawatha was the beginning of many lasts that will come with her final year at Ouachita. There is no doubt that she, along with many of her talented peers, have played a major role in the success of these shows. Pullman Car Hiawatha was a triumph for the theater department, as each night brought both ticket sales and fresh crowds eager to see the first production of the year.
On Nov. 2 and 5, the department will present its second theatrical performance of the semester, Amelia Goes to the Ball. Tickets can be purchased ahead of time at https://obu.edu/boxoffice/.