Penn Manor Students Watch “The Children’s Hour” Presented by Millersville University

By Cody Straub –

It has been called a classic and compared to the great play “The Crucible.”

Time will tell if the drama lives up to the classic by Arthur Miller but students from Penn Manor recently had a chance to find out.

Three Penn Manor English classes, along with students from the Twilight program, took a short walk through the rain to Millersvile University to watch the play “The Children’s Hours,” presented by the University Theatre. The play, which is directed by Tony Elliot, was shown at the Rafters Theatre on the Millersville campus in a special matinee performance just for Penn Manor students.

“It was good because I got to see a different form of art, I never get to go to live theater performance,” said senior Michael Andrusisin who attended the performance.

The play which premiered in 1934 on Broadway, and was revived in 1952 during the communist Red Scare in America, “is a classic American drama that deals with the fear of being different,” according to Elliot who was quoted on the Millersville University website.

Lillan Helman the playwright of “The Children’s Hour,” has written over ten other plays along with memoirs and novels. Her plays focus on “various forms in which evil appears and exhibited the tight structure and occasional overcontrivance of what is known as the well-made play,” according to Millerville’s playbill of “The Children’s Hour.”

“The Children’s Hour,” is a play about Karen Wright and Martha Dobie who run  the Wright-Dobie School For Girls. Wright and Dobie are accused of “unnatural” things by a estranged student named Mary Tilford, and her lies keep snowballing. The play has been compared to Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” because both plays involve false accusations.

The "Children's Hour" presented by Millersville University Theatre. Photo from Millersville University website.

The cast is made up mostly of students at Millersville University along with some Millersville alumni. Karen Wright was played by Kathleen Verbo, Mariah Mamas played Marth Dobie, and Mary Tilford was played by Sarah Williams.

Students who took time out of their school day to watch the play  benefited greatly from watching the play, according to English teacher Brian Reinking who was one of the teachers who organized the field trip.

“They [students] will be able to write about the performance,” said Reinking.

Along with being able to write about what they saw, and seeing a different type of presentation of a story,  students were also able to learn about the great message the classic play has to offer.

“We re-stage and watch and discuss this play again and again, said Elliot in “The Children’s Hour” playbill,  “because we need to be reminded of the negative power of lies.”

He continued, “It’s not a perfect play… but I hope it makes you think.”