Stirling Theatre start 2023 with John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’

The classic John Steinbeck novella Of Mice and Men comes to the Stirling Theatre stage as its first production of 2023. 

Adapted by Steinbeck himself and directed by Tim Riessen (assisted by Sharon Thomas), the play tells the story of Lennie and George, farm workers in Depression-era California trying to scrape together enough money to buy a house as they drift from ranch to ranch.  

But when Lennie stirs up trouble on the job, George must choose between protecting his friend or staying the course toward his version of the American dream. 

Steinbeck’s short novel was published in 1937 and has been adapted for the stage and screen many times. The first film adaptation was released in 1939 and starred Burgess Meredith as George and Lon Chaney Jr. as Lennie. Since then, there have been numerous other film adaptations, each bringing its own interpretation of the story.

“It’s a story of brotherly love,” Riessen said. “It outlines how the interactions with other folk on the ranch leads to the conclusion – which itself is an act of brotherly love. 

“One of the main challenges comes from the story being so well-known.  

“There is a plethora of study notes on the net and there are several versions on YouTube.   

“The issue is remaining true to the source material while also giving the actors space to interpret the characters for themselves.” 

Originally performing as a teenager, Riessen has returned to the stage in recent years, appearing with the Albany Light Opera and Theatre Company and Limelight and Stirling Theatres. 

He has also directed David Williamson’s Let the Sunshine and Summer of the Seventeenth Doll. 

“I wanted to direct Of Mice and Men because it is regarded as a classic with some saying it’s Steinbeck’s best work,” Riessen said. 

“It’s a powerful show – the attitudes to people with disabilities and those of colour might be normal for the time but the themes are just as relevant today.    

“This is what drove me; wanting to look at the history we share but also showing the more things change, the more they stay the same.” 

Of Mice and Men plays at 7.30pm February 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24 and 25 with 2pm matinees February 12 and 19. Book at Trybooking. Stirling Theatre is on Morris Place, Innaloo. 

Source: Media Release

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