“You will never have another opportunity to see this group of actors do this great play. This is the story of our country — of men who know nothing but how to work. They dream of having their own place where they can hoe in the garden, have their own mules. …”
Janeice Scarbrough, director, uses these words to convey to us why it would be worth our time and energy to attend the ENMU Drama Department’s play this coming weekend. “Of Mice and Men,” John Steinbeck’s classic tale of male friendship during the Great Depression, opens on Thursday and runs through Saturday.
George and Lennie do not expect a lot from life — these two simply want a place they can call their own. The story of their search for this, and the life journey which they take along the way, is the underlying movement of “Mice and Men.” Although the setting is less than a century ago, Janeice maintains that the biggest challenge faced by her student actors and crew was “translating the social and cultural environment of the play.”
I can see how that would be true, having taught this play (or rather the novel) in high school English IV two or three years ago. To my students, this setting in which their grandparents grew up might as well have been on another planet.
There is, however, a timeless theme … as Scarbrough puts it, “Friendship transcends all, and there aren’t enough movies about male friendships … not like the kindness, the simplicity, the dreaming that George and Lennie share.”
This is not, folks, Jerry Reed and Burt Reynolds driving around in Firebirds and big trucks; it is not Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder splitting your sides with laughter. It is an honest story about two men who have made a commitment to one another.
This, by the way, was the aspect of the play which the drama team really worked on: the relationship between George and Lennie. Most of you know there are a number of themes in this story; most of you have read it at some point. Janeice and her team chose this particular one to focus on, perhaps because it is so universal.
Part of the task of translating that universality falls into the hands of the set and design team, and as Ms. Scarbrough puts it, this presentation began with the theme, not the setting, and the set/design team did a wonderful job of translating those themes into concrete images.
Sometimes there are things that cannot be recreated, and a well-done live drama falls into that category. Do yourself a favor. Make time and space in your weekend to head over to the ENMU campus and experience “Of Mice and Men,” Thursday through Saturday, at the theatre center.
Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University. He can be contacted at