Director’s Corner: Mrs. Packard

By Heather DeRosa (’14), Photo by Shekinah Davis (’15)

The George Fox theatre department is at it again. This time they will perform Emily Mann’s play Mrs. Packard under the direction of Rhett Luedtke. The production, which is based on historical events, follows the life of Elizabeth Packard in 1860s Illinois.

“It’s about her following her convictions at the price of family,” explains Luedtke. “It’s a fun little play. It’s a harsh play.”

“Elizabeth Packard was a real live person; she had six children with the Reverend Theophilus Packard,” continues Luedtke. “After her last child, she had a change of conviction. She began to disagree with her husband’s theology. Not severely, but she no longer subscribed to the Puritan view of salvation. She was outspoken about it with him and her church community. In order to protect his children, he put her in an asylum. Men at that point in time could incarcerate their wives without proof of insanity.”

Luedtke also shared why he wanted to bring this production to the George Fox community: “First, it challenges our students and actors to take on pretty emotional roles and stretch themselves. Anytime we get the opportunity to stretch actors, whether that’s through comedia or whether it’s through realism, I want to find plays that do that. Also, this play fits our community really well. Elizabeth doesn’t let go of her Christian faith – she essentially changes denomination. Now days that’s not a big deal, but 50 years ago that was about changing identity in a very serious way.”

“We have three plays every year,” adds Luedtke. “We usually have one that pats the George Fox community on the back, that says, ‘Hey, aren’t we great people;’ one that’s usually a classic; and one like Broken that says, ‘Hey, this is where we kind of mess up as Christians in society.’ This one follows that same thought.”

George Fox’s last production, the Servant of Two Masters, had a much more comedic feel to it, while this production takes on a more thought-provoking and serious role. “The story is about what do you do when you have to face the hard choices of following your convictions or loving your children by being present with them,” says Luedtke.

Mrs. Packard opens Feb. 7, with shows nightly Thursday through Saturday. The production continues Feb. 14-16. All shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 for general admission, $8 for seniors and George Fox alumni, and $6 for students and children under 12. Purchase your tickets online here.