ENC’s thespians take to the stage this Spring as Professor Tara Brooke Watkins directs Anne of Green Gables. Her vision for this iconic story includes an ENC community cast and a sense of hope for all who attend.
“I’ve wanted to do Anne of Green Gables for a long time because I think it’s such a great family show,” Watkins said. “It started feeling like ENC, and our world, needed a really happy, hopeful story, and I wanted to end this year with that.”
Watkins cast everyone from ENC administrators to students. She wanted the adult roles to be played by adults and the child roles to be played by students. Watkins had a few prospects in mind for the role of Anne, but she tries to abstain from pre-casting. “I try to always have confidence that the right person will show up, but I try not to decide who that right person is.” She feels that as a director, pre-casting takes the joy away from auditions. “I want to be all of a sudden excited because somebody I never imagined got up [on stage] and wowed me.” Watkins also mentioned that she hopes this all-inclusive ENC ensemble of actors will create a strong sense of community. The production will include administrators, faculty, staff, and students. She reminisced about the cast’s first read-through together and how it was one of the most successful read-throughs to date. Everyone was engaged, lively, and appreciative of one another which was exactly the type of cast she was hoping for.
This will be her second time directing this play; the first time being when she met her husband. He was playing the role of Matthew, and he’ll reprise his role this time around. Watkins strives to stay true to the original story. “When you’re doing a traditional story, unless it’s written to where there’s an option of doing something different with it, you should try to present the story that everyone loves,” she stated. Watkins recalled a staff member telling her that they were planning to drive to Maine to bring their mother to the play since Anne of Green Gables was a book they read together. Watkins said that she’s eager for these high expectations of this beloved story.
Watkins explained that what she’s most excited about is “for people to come, see the show, and feel what I know they’ll feel, and that is laughter, joy, and a sense of sympathy.” She continued, “Everyone is going to feel the same thing at the same time which to me is one of the most beautiful things about theater.”
Out of the many lessons found in this play, one valuable lesson holds a special place in Watkins’ heart. “It’s not about what people can give to us. It’s about what we can do for someone else,” she said as her eyes welled up with joyful tears. “Isn’t that what we’re called to do as Christians?” She hopes this message will be evident throughout the performance.
Watkins also admires the story’s heroine: Anne. “What I love about Anne is that she’s not afraid of her emotions. She’s not afraid to be over-the-top happy even if she looks ridiculous. She’s not afraid to cry if she’s sad…she is genuinely in the moment, and she is not afraid of what people think of her.”
The production of Anne of Green Gables runs from April 17th through April 21st in the Cove Fine Arts Center. The show starts at 10 a.m. on April 17th and April 18th, 7:30 p.m. on April 19th and April 20th, and at 2 p.m. on April 21st.