The Cardinal Stage Company opens their sixth season with Arthur Miller’s award-winning post-World War II play All My Sons. The show has the feel of a Greek drama with a buried secret, gradual revelation, and a tragic finale that leads to reconciliation and order. It’s part of Indiana University’s Themester 2011: Making War: Making Peace.
Chicago-based actor Maureen Gallagher plays the Keller family matriarch, Kate Keller. “It’s very much the drama of a family,” she says. “I play the wife of Joe and the mother of two sons: Chris is a returning World War II hero, and Larry is a pilot who’s still missing in action over the Pacific.”
In Kate Keller, the audience sees this very human, strong, funny woman, but there are things that we learn only gradually. “Yes, I am possessed of a secret,” Gallagher says, “and ‘possessed’ is a good word. Kate has decided to live with [her secret], even to try to ignore it, but it’s always threatening to explode. I do enjoy playing Kate for her vitality and humor, and for the challenge of the part.”
David Higgins, the designer for All My Sons, is the principal designer for the IU Opera Theatre. He’s also done two previous shows for Cardinal. There was an intricate rotating set for Little Shop of Horrors, and a much simpler, bare stage arrangement for Souvenir. “This is definitely somewhere between the two,” Higgins says.
Higgins is always conscious of the history of the pieces that he designs for. “The original production was on a proscenium stage, but we’re working in a large studio space. So that’s made for some changes. I’ve put the set in a corner, with the audience around it. The play is set in Midwest in 1946, so I did go for a bit of a ‘craftsman cottage’ style in some of the details. I wanted to create a space that someone like Kate Keller would feel comfortable in.”