By: Hannah Stoughton
April 7th, 2022: The Thiel Players showcased their Spring 2022 production “The Government Inspector” on the weekend of April 1st, 2nd, and 3rd at the William-Robinson Theater at Thiel College.
Set in early 19th century Russia, “The Government Inspector” tells the story of a rural Russian town that learns of a government inspector that is coming to their town. The mayor Anton Antonovich, played by Roy Wilt, and the rest of the upper-class townspeople scramble to ensure that their reputations aren’t tainted by the truth of the town.
“This play is about government corruption. As long as there is government, there’s going to be corruption,” offered Nathaniel Meth, who plays the role of Hlestakov, a mysterious man that shows up in the inn of the town. “That’s what makes it so good.”
Directed by Dr. Jessica Rogers and assistant directed by student Ian Miller, the show was a favored option when deciding what show to produce during the 2021-2022 school year. “Ian was actually a member of the student workshop through the hiring process during last June, and one of the things that happened was that at the end of the workshop he asked me, ‘Have you ever thought about doing a play like ‘The Government Inspector?’’ As it turns out, I have a running list of plays I’d like to direct, and ‘The Government Inspector’ happened to be one of them.” Dr. Rogers said. “Personally, it resonates with me on a political level. There’s a lot happening that has happened in the last six years or so that has made this a hyper-relevant play to me,” she continued.
“I just like Russian literature in general. I come from a Russian background, and I just really liked the play. I think it’s really funny, and it holds to the quality of the government. All of the jokes still land, and it’s still relevant, even 180 years later,” said Miller.
Miller, on top of assistant directing the play, stepped into the roles of Svetsunov, the mayor’s right-hand man, as well as the role of the messenger. “My favorite part was the bear,” Miller offered, referencing the bear rug with quite an interesting story behind it.
On top of being able to take on different characters, the cast enjoyed working together to personify others the most. “I think my favorite part of this has been working with the people. It
makes it a really fun experience,” said Kinsey Lowers, who plays the nosy postmaster and very pregnant innkeeper’s wife.
With the recent invasion of Ukraine, the timing of an anti-government production that is based around Russia is extremely coincidental. While it was not chosen because of the warfare and was actually chosen in August of 2021, it certainly makes the production more interesting. “What makes the show relatable is that government really doesn’t change significantly. Ultimately, the goal of the people in power is to stay in power, and Gogol [the author] pokes at these stereotypes,” Dr. Rogers said.
Putting this show together was not an easy task. “When I got cast as the part in December, I really wanted to do a good job since Ian’s my friend. I spent the whole month after trying to be off-book as soon as possible,” said Meth. “I took Duolingo Russian lessons to be able to pronounce names correctly, I just did a lot.”
Shingler said that keeping the character interesting was the most challenging aspect of the play. “It’s a difficult part for me in the sense that I go out there and try to make sure I’m not playing the same part every time. I like to try to improve, and I think that all of us have done that.”
Another difficult aspect of the play is the Russian language. “Pronunciation has been a difficult time for me. I’ve been trying, Russian is just hard,” offered Lowers.
Dr. Rogers said that the hardest part for her was coordinating the cast and practices. “The most challenging aspect is keeping all of the balls in the air. Trying to schedule and coordinate individual schools for essentially seventeen people, especially since this is an extracurricular and students work and have classes and homework. We also have two community members part of the cast. Trying to make sure that everybody fits, and me being respectful of everybody’s time, is difficult.”
Despite the difficulties, the Thiel Players have once again put on a fantastic show for the community to see. The tickets are free, they just have to be reserved online. The next showings are Saturday, April 9th at 2:00pm and 7:00 pm and Sunday, April 10th at 2:00pm. The show is rife with humor, passion, and overall talent.
“As long as the community laughs, that’s all that matters. It’s a funny show, and we’re entertainment,” said Meth.
Image Credit: Thiel Players’ Facebook