Clearfield’s Gearhart Directs Award-Winning Play Written by Mentor

Mother Hicks (Deb Grieve) checks the temperature of Girl (Jacqueline Spicher) as Tuc (Dr. William Grigsby) looks on in the Reitz Theater production of Mother Hicks. (Provided photo)

Mother Hicks (Deb Grieve) checks the temperature of Girl (Jacqueline Spicher) as Tuc (Dr. William Grigsby) looks on in the Reitz Theater production of Mother Hicks. (Provided photo)

DUBOIS – The use of a variety of theatrical senses will be on display, as the Reitz Theater Players and Cultural Resources Inc. presents Suzan Zeder’s Mother Hicks April 24-25, April 30 and May 1-2 at 7:30 p.m. and April 26 at 2 p.m. at the Reitz Theater in DuBois.

Sponsored by Johnson Motors and Hallstrom Construction, the play takes place in the southern Illinois town of Ware, and focuses on three outsiders – a pre-teen foundling girl known as “Girl” (played by Jacqueline Spicher and London Watt, both of DuBois), a young deaf man named Tuc (Dr. William Grigsby of Curwensville), who is eloquent in the language of his silence, and an eccentric recluse Mother Hicks (Deb Grieve of Treasure Lake), who is accused of being a witch. The story is narrated by Tuc, who signs as the chorus and individuals speak his “word-pictures.”

Director Gayle Gearhart of Clearfield was a student at the University of Texas in Austin, when she became aware of Zeder’s work. “When I was working toward my Master’s degree in teaching theatre,” Gearhart says, “I took classes, and was mentored by Suzan Zeder.

“While there, I was awakened to a ‘sea-change’ of what is known as ‘children’s theatre.’  I saw plays from around the world that were about real children’s lives – not fairy tales – but what children and families experience, sometimes in trying times.”

She first saw the play on campus. “I have been ‘under its spell’ ever since,” Gearhart adds.  “It is handed-down folklore with music, magic and mythology as commentary on our own times.”

The production hits close to home for many of those involved in the production. Grigsby is a CODA, or Child of Deaf Adults, and both he and Andrea Gordon of Reynoldsville have hearing loss in one ear. RTP members Emily Bach and Anthony Cochran, who are deaf, have worked behind the scene in this and other Reitz shows. There will be sign language interpretation for deaf and hard of hearing patrons during the April 24-26 and April 30 performances.

Zeder’s play, which is set during the hardened times of the Great Depression in 1935, evokes laughter, pathos, wonder and mystery and is enchantingly fit for the whole family. It’s the first of three stories, known as “The Ware Trilogy,” and was named the American Alliance for Theater and Education’s Distinguished Play Award winner in 1987, and won the ASSITEJ/USA Outstanding Play Award.

Gearhart urges audience members to park early for each performance in order to delight in the added bonus of live-performance music from the era before and throughout each performance by local talent.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students and seniors, $5 for children, and may be purchased at any one of our ticket outlets or by reserving through the Reitz Theater box office at 814-375-4274 or

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