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“The Skin of Our Teeth,” Explained

The metaphor behind the madness of Skutt Catholic’s spring play

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The weekend of March 30-April 2 at Skutt Catholic, a couple celebrated their 5,000 wedding anniversary, a mammoth and a dinosaur ran rampant in a suburban backyard, and a young man from somewhere like New Jersey murdered his brother with a slingshot.

In other words, the spring play was an interesting one.

Skutt Catholic’s most recent theatrical production, “The Skin of Our Teeth” by Thornton Wilder, was both extremely well performed and extremely baffling in content due to the heavy amounts of metaphor in the production. The actors’ performances and the quirkily odd nature of the play resulted in a very enjoyable show, whether or not the audience understood it. But still, when you know the metaphor behind the madness, the play is even more exceptional.

The “Stage Manager” (Ryan Harrel), Lily Sabina (Johnna Lowe) and Mr. Antrobus (Max Korensky) converse about how to get the show back on track.

The play follows a ‘typical American family’ that is anything but typical. The two parents are Mr. George Antrobus and Mrs. Maggie Antrobus (played by Max Korensky and Sarah Schrader), their two children, Henry (Cal Strawhecker) and Gladys (Anne Gregory), and their maid, Sabina (Johnna Lowe).

During an interview with the cast, I learned that each of these characters is more than he/she seems. “There’s a lot of allusions to the Bible in the play,” says sophomore Matthias Walters. “George Antrobus is Adam or a common man, and Mrs. Antrobus is Eve, or a common woman,” he continues. “Henry is Cain, and the mark on his forehead in the play is the Mark of Cain. Gladys represents innocence and childhood.”

The three acts of the play, each centered around the Antrobuses, all vary from each other; they take place in different locations, have unique scenarios, and display different levels of humor and drama. According to junior Cal Strawhecker, “Act One is supposed to be about feeding the hungry and being open to people who are in need, and Act Two is about saving a marriage and keeping families together,” he says. “Act Three tries to convey that, no matter the differences in the world, we all need to try to achieve world peace.”

Photo by Roger Snowden
Sabina (Johnna Lowe)

The acts are so diverse and incohesive because each act symbolizes different aspects of human life, as the Antrobuses are supposed to be ‘typical humans,’ representative of us all. “The Skin of Our Teeth” director Will Wright weighs in as to why the play seems to have so many moral implications and be intended for such a broad audience: “Thornton Wilder wrote this toward the beginning of WWII. A lot of it is a message to American people, saying  ‘We’ve been through tough times and we’re going to get through tough times now too,'” he says. “If you can get past the odd setting, you’ll find that the main message centers around humanity’s indestructibility.”

While all of this talk of plot and metaphors is fascinating, it wouldn’t be right not to address the performance itself. The play ended up being a big success. “Performances went very, very well,” says senior Johnna Lowe. “Every night the performances got better, the audience was more into it, and we, the actors, became more comfortable.” The show’s success was largely due to the actors’ remarkable performances as well as the beautiful set and lighting.

The 2017 spring play is one of Skutt Catholic’s most unique theater productions in awhile. Whether it be for the confounding metaphors, the astounding acting, or just for Ryan Harrell, the stage manager, nearly kissing Mr. Antrobus – don’t ask – “The Skin of Our Teeth” isn’t likely to be forgotten anytime soon.

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Student News of Skutt Catholic High School
“The Skin of Our Teeth,” Explained