GVT presents ‘The Member of the Wedding’

Greenbrier Valley Theatre (GVT), the State Professional Theatre of West Virginia, is proud to continues its run of Carson McCullers’ “The Member of the Wedding.” This bittersweet classic runs Oct. 8 and 13-15 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $30 for general admission, $27 for seniors and $20 for children/students. For tickets or more information, call GVT’s Box Office at 304-645-3838 or visit www.gvtheatre.org.
An amusing and touching play by classic Southern writer Carson McCullers, this is the story of Frankie Addams, a 12-year-old girl who yearns to find a place in the world. Race, sex and politics rage around Frankie as she learns that hope, loss and disappointment are all a part of growing up.
Living in the south in the 1940s, Frankie and Berenice, the black maid raising her, portray a common practice in southern life. In a society where black people were seen as lower class citizens, black women were often hired to raise white children.
Kimberlee Monroe portrays Berenice, one such woman. Like many black women of the time, she has very few options. Her role in the children’s lives may be as a mother figure, but she is constantly reminded that she is “the help.”
“Sure Berenice would rather be somebody other than a maid,” said Monroe. “She thinks higher of herself but this is all life has to offer a black woman in the 1940s.”
Monroe explained that Berenice truly cares for the white children she has been entrusted with and that their relationship is truly special. Although she is not Frankie’s mother, her maternal role is built on a bond of mutual love and respect.
As white children, Frankie and her cousin John Henry, played by Jed White, have privileges Berenice is denied. Frankie has always seen Berenice as the constant loving presence but rarely as the black woman struggling to survive in an oppressive society.
“She hears the way her father speaks to black people,” actor Kelsey Pressnall, who portrays Frankie, said. “Like anyone not a part of a particular minority, there is no way for her to comprehend the oppression.”
McCullers’ depiction of the relationship between Frankie and Berenice shines a light on one of the many struggles for black women at the time: being responsible for someone else’s life while having so little control over your own.

 

 

Kelsey Pressnall who portrays Frankie in GVT’s production of “The Member of the Wedding” (Photo courtesy Greenbrier Valley Theatre)
Kelsey Pressnall who portrays Frankie in GVT’s production of “The Member of the Wedding” (Photo courtesy Greenbrier Valley Theatre)
Kimberlee Monroe (AEA) who portrays Berenice in GVT’s production of “The Member of the Wedding” (Photo courtesy Greenbrier Valley Theatre)
Kimberlee Monroe (AEA) who portrays Berenice in GVT’s production of “The Member of the Wedding” (Photo courtesy Greenbrier Valley Theatre)

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