“The Skin of Our Teeth” presented by theater department

Olivia Hendricks

The Ice Age, the Great Flood and the Napoleonic Wars are a lot for just one family to deal with. This weekend, audience members will have the chance to see how the fictional Antrobus family gets by in all these rough situations as Lawrence University presents Thornton Wilder’s “The Skin of Our Teeth.”
“The Skin of Our Teeth” was written in 1942 and received a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The play is full of anachronisms and allusions, and it is itself an allegory for the human experience. Viewers see the Antrobus family endure all types of crises from throughout history.
This nonsensical chronology, as well as unusual theatrical tactics, creates a sense of whimsy. As sophomore Jeff Rudisill, who plays one of the Antrobus children, said, “It’s been difficult to make sense of the play. I feel like the point of it sometimes is just to be nonsensical. Nobody ever really knows what time period it is and everyone is really old, yet a lot of things happen in a very short amount of time. Maybe I just get confused.”
However, Wilder’s play seems to say that it’s not just Rudisill who is confused: the entire human race is, as we navigate our way through problem after problem. In the play, the maid Sabina comments, “That’s all we do – always beginning again! Over and over again. Always beginning again,” and later, “My nerves can’t stand it. But if you have any ideas about improving this crazy old world, I’m really with you. I really am.”
With lines like these, Wilder deals with the endurance and hopefulness of the human race in spite of confusion and destruction.
Lawrence’s production will feature seniors Eric Ohlrogge and Nora Taylor as Mr. and Mrs. Antrobus. Rudisill and fellow sophomore Erika Thiede will play the Antrobus children, and sophomore Katie Cravens will play Sabina. Serving as director is Kathy Privatt, associate professor of theatre arts and James G. and Ethel M. Barber professor of theatre and drama.
As Privatt said, “World events in the last year have made [“The Skin of our Teeth”] a tremendously topical play, including its underlying message of hope.”
Even if the nonsense and allusions escape certain viewers, this message just might resonate for all in this time of economic and political restructuring.
Performances take place at Stansbury Theatre May 14-15 at 8 p.m. and May 16 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors and students, and free for Lawrence faculty, staff and students. The Lawrence Box Office can be reached at (920) 832-6749 for more information.