Suffolk prepares for world premiere of Thornton Wilder play


Courtesy of Gio Cassella

The cast hard at work during one of the dress rehearsals

When playwright Thornton Wilder died in 1975, he left behind an array of literature, including “The Seven Deadly Sins.” Although the script was completed and the playwright was not fully pleased with his play, he gave us enough of his vision to bring his work to a live audience.

From Nov. 21 to 24, the Suffolk University Theatre Department will present “The Seven Deadly Sins,” which is one of Wilder’s lesser known works. The show consists of seven short, one-act plays about each of the seven sins within one larger performance. Some of the mini plays are humorous while others are dramatic, and each is set in a different time period.

Since Wilder did not finish all of the plays to his satisfaction, to him they were unfinished works. However, during his lifetime he did finish the script for all seven, leaving enough room for interpretation and exploration.

“A lot of people just [perform scripts] straightforward by the book and that’s not what we do,” junior theatre arts major and assistant director Liv Joan said. “We take unexpected turns and we shove all these things in their faces that’s crazy and outrageous but it makes sense.”

Suffolk received special permission from the Thornton Wilder estate to perform his work, since this is the first time all seven plays have been performed together on stage. Representatives from the estate will also be coming to Boston to see the world premiere.

“To be in this show really means a lot because something that [director] Wes reminds us all the time is that when we are acting and we’re up there, we are the first people to do this,” senior theatre major and cast member Thomas James said.

“The Seven Deadly Sins” is directed by Wesley Savick, Micaleen Rodgers and Sydney Grant. The play has a cast of 28 students, as well as numerous other student designers working on lights, sound and the set, making their involvement with the production a hands-on experience.

“It’s just a really great blend of how to step into this world of professionalism while still being a student,” said James.

The cast has mostly been rehearsing each play separately in spaces at Modern Theatre and the Sullivan Studio theatre, with little knowledge about what their colleagues are doing in the other scenes. The plays aren’t being put all together until tech week begins.

“It’s kind of weird because you’re disconnected for so much of the process and then [during] tech week, the shows are all together, and you’re sitting there watching it and feeling how they all connect,” freshman theatre major and cast member Vincent Douglass said.

The cast hopes the audience is able to see parts of themselves in each of the plays, and that they can reflect on their personal lives through the plotline and characters.

“The stories that we’re telling are very intense to the fact that they were written so long ago, but they’re still very relatable to today,” said Joan. “You can see a lot of yourself in these characters.”

The show will run at the Modern Theatre Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $10 for students with a valid student I.D.