General Info > News Releases > Archived Releases 2009/2010 > 2009-10-02: MC Opens Theatre Season with Our Country's Good


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MENDOCINO COLLEGE, 1000 Hensley Creek Road, Ukiah, CA 95482

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File: NR- MC Open Theatre Season, Our Country’s Good

Photo: Jolie L’Amour (Meg),  Daniel Katz (Arscott),  Tony Rakes (Ralph), Herron Spence (Mary)  and Brittani Ray (Duckling) in “the Mendocino College production of Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good (photo by Evan Johnson)






            The Mendocino College Theatre Arts Department will open the college theatre season with Our Country’s Good, a historical drama by Timberlake Wertenbaker, for two weeks only October 29 through November 8 in the college’s Center Theatre.  Based on the novel The Playmaker by Thomas Keneally (author of Schindler’s List), the play tells the true story of a group of British convicts and their guards, transported to Australia in 1788.  Faced with brutal conditions and shattered spirits, one British marine lieutenant embarks on the unlikely endeavor of producing a play.  His actors are the English convicts.  Few of them can read, let alone act.  As one critic wrote, the play "is a triumph...a tribute to the transforming power of drama."


            According to Mendocino College theatre professor and production director Reid Edelman, “Wertenbaker’s writing is deeply moving and often very funny.  The play tells an inspiring true story about human transformation, about a group of people who transcend their brutal conditions and ultimately form a new nation.  It is a love story, a story of courage and endurance and a celebration of the redemptive power of the human imagination.”  The play examines the status relationships between the convicts and their soldier guards, a theme which Edelman emphasizes by choosing to double cast most of the performers as both guards and convicts.  The set, designed by Mendocino College theatre technician Larry L. Lang, resembles at once a nautical vessel, a gallows and a stage…underscoring Edelman’s central imagery involving the “transportation of souls.”


            The ensemble cast of 12 performers features a mix of full time college students and community members.  Keneally’s novel and the play are both based upon the journals of Lieutenant Ralph Clark, a British marine who directed George Fahrquar’s The Recruiting Officer with a cast of thieves, prostitutes and other petty criminals.  The play is told through Clark’s memory.  In this production, Ralph Clark will be played by Tony Rakes.  Rakes most recently performed the lead role in the Ukiah Players Theatre / Mendocino College co-production of Prelude to a Kiss and he is a veteran of performer on the college stage.  Convict Mary Brenham plays the lead role in Clark’s play and ultimately captures his heart as well; Brenham is played by Ukiah High School sophomore Herron Spence. 


            All of the other actors are double cast, including Amanda Baguley, Jolie L’amour,  Tyler Gardner, Charles Hessom, Daniel Katz, Emmanuel Mallo, Bear Palomo, Nichole Phillips, Flynn Platt, and Brittani Ray.  The talented ensemble includes college theatre majors, high school students, veteran community performers, a firefighter, a nurse, an artist, and a computer technician.  Edelman explains that “bringing diverse members of our community together in the shared experience of producing a play is one of the joys of working at a community college in a small rural town.  It also resonates strongly with the story of the amateur theatrical production which is the subject of our play.  Theatre has a remarkable ability to strengthen a community and to bring out the best in people.  It is a life-saving activity for many, and that is what this play is about…that and the creation of a new nation.”


             Our Country’s Good will feature period costumes designed by resident designer and college instructor Kathy Dingman-Katz and an original sound design by the college’s recording studio instructor Paul Kemp.  The entire production is being stage managed by student Maxx Jennings. 


            Our Country’s Good opens on October 29, 2009.  Performances will run for two weekends only, through November 8. Performances are Thursdays at 7:30 PM, Fridays at 8 PM, Saturday November 7 at 8 PM and Sunday November 8 at 2 PM.  There will be no performance on Halloween, Saturday October 31.  Tickets ($15 general; $12 students and seniors) are available at the Mendocino Book Company and at the Mendocino College Bookstore.  The play addresses mature themes, and includes violent scenes and graphic discussions of sexuality.  The play is recommended for mature audiences ages 13 and older.   For more detailed information about the production, please visit the college’s Theatre Department web site at  For additional information, call (707) 468-3172.





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Created: October 02, 2009 @ 04:30 PM
Last Modified: March 12, 2010 @ 02:47 PM


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