‘Misery’ on the stage:ENMU presents a play based on the Stephen King novel
By Tova Fruchtman: CNJ staff writer
Stephen King has become a name almost synonymous with horror. So, when Eastern New Mexico University drama major Molly McFarling found out she would perform in a senior recital based on the Stephen King novel “Misery,” she was a little freaked out.
“It’s nothing I’ve ever done before,” McFarling said. “To do something Stephen King was like whoa.”
Janeice Scarbrough, associate professor of theatre at Eastern, said she chose the play for McFarling because of McFarling’s caring personality.
“I thought her natural sweetness and kindness would make this character more frightening,” she said.
In the play a fanatic fan rescues her favorite novelist from a car crash, keeps him sick and traps him in her house to watch his creative process. The play only has two characters: Annie Wilkes, a deranged fan played by McFarling, and Paul Sheldon, a novelist played by Solomon Romney. Adapted for the stage by writer Simon Moore, it is quite different from the 1990 movie production of the novel.
McFarling wouldn’t know though. Scarbrough, the play’s director, has forbidden McFarling and Romney from viewing the movie or reading the book. Scarbrough said she did not want them to be influenced by the way the characters were portrayed in the movie or by emotions expressed in the book. However, she is intrigued by the idea that the play has been a popular movie.
“How many times do you get an opportunity to see this processes in reverse,” Scarbrough said. In fact, she is having her screen-writing students write a paper on the process, and Scarbrough saw the movie for the first time during that class on Tuesday.
“It reminds me that we’re doing a great job,” she said. “The play, more than the movie, is really a character study of both people.”
Studying Annie’s character finally helped McFarling to appreciate the play.
“When I first read (the play) I hated it,” she said. “As the rehearsal process kept going I finally realized it’s not about this crazy woman but it’s about people in pain.”
McFarling said researching her character helped her to appreciate the play more.
“Using all the resources … I really (became) attune to who Annie Wilkes is, because I finally understood why she did everything,” she said. “I connect with the character on a totally different level than I thought (I would). It’s really creepy when you have rehearsal and then you go home and have dreams that you are still the character.”
McFarling said the message she hopes the audience will glean from the show is about pain.
“Who creates your own pain? Is it you, or is it someone else?,” she said. “Paul created his own misery. I create my own misery.
Two people who created their own misery are now in misery together.”
Scarbrough and said people should enjoy the show as long as they do not expect it to be the movie.
Even McFarling’s friends have told her she plays Annie very different than actress Kathy Bates.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for us to remind ourselves of the difference between film and theater,” Scarbrough said. “I’m incredibly excited for these two actors who have never done anything like this in their lives.”
ENMU Presents “Misery”
Cost: General admission $7, seniors $6, pre-college $5 and ENMU students $4
When: 8 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday
Where: Eastern New Mexico University’s Theater Center Main Stage