cheap beats by dr dre headphones Viterbo to stage ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’
In playing the lead in Viterbo University’s production of “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,” Katarina Vandlik is walking in the footsteps of giants. Vanessa Redgrave originated the role of Jean Brodie, the charismatic but flawed teacher, on the London stage in 1966, and Maggie Smith turned in an Oscar winning performance in the 1969 movie version. “Some very talented actresses originated the role and led the way. I feel very humbled to be able to play the part.”
“The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,” which was adapted from the 1961 novel by Muriel Spark, centers on a young teacher at an elite school for girls in 1930s Scotland. The play follows Brodie and a small group of her favored students, known as “the Brodie Set,” from their first encounter with Brodie as pre teens until they blossoming as young women.
Brodie pushes the girls, grooming them for greatness with an education that goes outside the norms, giving primacy to art and music and diving deep into history while connecting it with the current social and political realities of the era. Her teaching methods and subjects are frowned on, however, by the powers that be at the school.
In the course of the play, the girls and the audience learn that for all her charisma and idealism, Brodie is flawed.
Neither Walters nor Vandlik were familiar with the play or movie before they began preparations for the production, but Walters said there are some basic things about the play that make it a perfect pick for the Viterbo theater program’s season this year. For one thing, the theater program has a lot of female students, and the play offers a lot of female roles. In addition, the play, set in Scotland, means the cast has a chance to work on a dialect, a great skill to have for students looking to hone their craft.
“I think it’s important to the play that we place the audience’s imagination in Scotland,” said Walters, who is in his 18th year teaching at Viterbo. “The students really have picked (the accent) up beautifully.”
Having been immersed in the play, which will have three performances next weekend at the Weber Center for the Performing Arts, the attractions of the seldom produced play beyond those basics have become clear for Walters.
“It’s an interesting play, and it raises interesting questions about idealism and about the power of it and the dark side of it,” Walters said. “It’s part of human nature. We’re attracted to somebody who can inspire and set us off on a new path, and we’re willing sometimes to follow blindly, to our own detriment.”
Vandlik, who studied last semester at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, loves the complexity of Brodie’s character. “I think she really loves having an influence over people, and I think she wants to lead her own revolution. At the heart of that, I think she wants to make the world a better place,” she said. “But influence, even if it comes from good intentions, can be a dangerous and powerful thing. No one person should have all the answers.”
Jean Brodie, Vandlik said, is a tragic figure who doesn’t necessarily know she’s tragic, and the beauty of the play is it sets her out in all her humanity. “The writing is so great because it doesn’t necessarily paint her as a hero, but it doesn’t paint her as a villain either,” she said.