Gritty Play “Grapes of Wrath” Set for Ghent Playhouse [Berkshire on Stage]

Kevin Barhydt as Tom Joad and Tom Detwiler as Reverend Jim Casey in the Ghent Playhouse’s production of John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” (photo: Daniel Region)

Kevin Barhydt as Tom Joad and Tom Detwiler as Reverend Jim Casey in the Ghent Playhouse’s production of John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” (photo: Daniel Region)

It’s the classic saga of displaced heartland Americans during the Dust Bowl Depression and John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath is about to get a realistic and timely production at the Ghent Playhouse in New York. Performances dates are May 23-25, May 30-June 1 and June 6-8. The novel was adapted for the stage by Frank Galati and the Steppenwolff Theater Company. For those who know the Steppenwolf company, that means it is not simply on-stage emoting that will be going on, but fingernail dirty, authentic storytelling from the heart of America. Joe Phillips is directing the gritty production.

Renowned first as a novel, and then as a prize-winning motion picture, the story of the Joad family and their flight from the dust bowl of Oklahoma is familiar to most. Desperately proud but reduced to poverty by the loss of their farm, the Joads pile their few possessions on a battered old truck and head west for California, hoping to find work and a better life.

John Steinbeck (1902–1968) was a distinctly American writer who penned 27 books, and The Grapes of Wrath (1939) won a Pulitzer. 2014 is the 75th anniversary of its publication. He is also fondly remembered for East of Eden (1952) and the novella Of Mice and Men (1937). Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 “for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception.”

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