Everyone, at some point, has told a little white lie. These can happen almost daily and usually end up slipping out without a second thought. Not as often, however, do these white lies snowball into something much, much bigger. Something that can end up ruining lives. This idea of perceptions and truths is explored in ISU Theatre’s “The Children’s Hour,” the production that is coming to the Fisher Theater starting this Friday.
“'Children’s Hour' is the story of two women in the 1930s named Karen and Martha who run an all girls school together,” said Libby Peterson, an actress in the show who plays the character of Mary.
“The school is doing great, everything is on its feet, and then my character, Mary, gets angry with them when they decide to punish her,” Peterson said. “Mary kind of throws a fit and runs away to her rich grandmother who supports the school financially and tells her that the women have been lovers and that they’re lesbians.”
The drama that follows is sure to keep audiences on the edge of their seat.
“Mary’s lie goes very, very far and pretty much ruins the two women’s lives and their school and everything,” Peterson said.
Lindsay Koehler, the production’s stage manager added that the show is about more than just drama between women.
“This is a story of what we do for our desires and what those consequences are. Although this story is wrapped around lies, it also is a story of radical empathy.”
The cast and crew have been working on this production since the middle of September and have taken many steps to ensure that they can tell this story to the best of their ability.
“It was easy for me to kind of see where Mary was coming from,” Peterson said. “When a lot of people do this show, they play her off as this mean, evil little girl when I think that she actually has a backstory.
“Something that helped us get into our characters and is a little different is that we talked to a person in the history of women’s studies here at Iowa State, Amy Bicks, and hearing what she had to say about girls in an all girls school really helped to develop my character.”
“I don’t want to give it away because it’s kind of the whole secret of the show,” Peterson said. “She really just talked about how girls tend to become really frustrated living in an all girls school where they don’t learn about themselves and/or their sexuality… and just how that can really affect a 14-year-old girl.”
Both Peterson and Koehler agree that “The Children’s Hour” is a show that is important for everyone to see.
“I believe that this story is incredibly important to see. This is a story that has flawed characters. We can see a little of ourselves in each character, and we know someone else who is a little like each character. This is story that can connect to everyone,” Koehler said.
Peterson added, “I think it’s very relative to today. It’s so relative to everyone single person about lying and about choosing what you can and cannot say and it’s also very relative to accepting people.”
“This is our history of our country. We did not accept lesbians. We did not accept that women knew about sexual freedom, and just to see how far our country has come and to push it even farther. I think everyone needs to see this show because it has something that relates to everyone,” Peterson said.
Each cast and crew member finds this show to be special for a different reason, and for Peterson it is special because it has taught her more about herself.
“This show is special to me because it’s really taught me a lesson of how you think about the person you want to be,” Peterson stated. “Just being a truthful and honest person is something that every person should strive to be in their life, and being accepting of everyone is also a huge lesson that everyone should learn.”
Koehler agreed, “This show is special to me because it is the show I have connected with. I have been able to connect with all of the characters in the show and it has really kept my interest, even after seeing it 20 times.”
Peterson leaves potential audience members with this, “I just want people to get out and see the show. I don’t want people to think ‘Oh it’s just a play, it’s about women, it’s not related to me, I don’t need to see it.’ I think everyone needs to see it and I want everyone to really try and make an effort to see it because it could change people’s lives.”