In times of tragedy, peoples’ true natures are released—but what if you are different than the rest of the pack?
The play is about the experiences of Tim Maddock, one of the playwrights, while he volunteered to rescue animals that were misplaced or abandoned in the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. His story of the people and animals of New Orleans and their interactions with outsiders provide a powerful backdrop for a deeper conversation about what it means to be displaced.
Thanks to the generous financial support from the office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs and the Wilson College Diversity Team, the college was able to invite Maddock to join in the first night of the production.
At the end of Friday’s performance, the cast invited the audience to join them for a casual question and answer session with Maddock.
“This is the first time I’ve ever seen the play,” said Maddock, who has played himself in multiple staged productions. “It was sort of surreal. This is my life, and it’s on stage.”
The majority of the scenes and scenarios depicted in the play are true to Maddock’s real-life experiences. The drama highlighted the powerful potential in people for both good and bad purposes. The stories of injustice that Maddock encountered inspired him to create the play.
“The stories were really what it was about. There was no happy ending,” said Maddock. “Their voices—it was like they were screaming out. Thousands or more.”
“The play was a way to make some things right,” Maddock added.
Patrick Fox ’16 played the part of Tim in the production, marking his debut as an actor. Much of the play featured complex sequences of dialogue and frequent soliloquized speeches that were directed at the audience. Each character’s part involved heavy memorization of the script. Fox’s performance was met with positive reaction from the audience, including Maddock himself.
“I was up all night for weeks trying to get all the lines,” Fox said. Like Fox, many of the actors and actresses put in hours of practice and memorization to prepare for their various roles. When nearing the production date, several actors left the production, leaving the remaining players to take up the remaining roles (and their lines).
Fox claims that he felt a special connection to the play’s theme of being different that motivated him to succeed: “This could have easily been me,” he said. “When I came to Wilson, I had to step outside myself to see who Wilson was and who I really was.”
The drama club’s production of “Because They Have No Words” is due, in part, to the passions of Professor of English Dr. Lisa Woolley. Woolley’s interest in environmental literature and animals led her to the play, which she introduced to one of her classes as an example of contemporary drama.
When Adjunct Theater Instructor Dick Shoap learned of Woolley’s interest in the work, he insisted on performing the play as the drama club’s spring production. To perform the work of a living playwright, the playwright must give permission. The correspondence between Shoap and Maddock then resulted in the play’s successful production, as well as Maddock’s guest appearance.
“It’s hard to tell what is really happening with something like Katrina until you look at it from someone else’s shoes,” said Fox.
The powerful images and messages of “Because They Have No Words” allowed the audience to see tragedy from a different perspective, one that makes it memorable.
“It is important not to forget what happened in Katrina and what happened after,” said Woolley.
For more information about the Wilson Drama Club or their showing of “Because They Have No Words,” contact Dick Shoap at 717-264-4141 or email@example.com.