Cat on A Hot Tin Roof is a classic 20th Century play written by American playwright Tennessee Williams in 1955. The story of this play surrounds the members of a wealthy family living on a plantation in Mississippi.
Brick, the main protagonist and an ex-football player and his wife Margaret – also referred to as Maggie the Cat – are currently having marital problems. Maggie wants to have a baby, just as Brick’s brother Gooper and his wife Mae have done five times. Brick is strongly against having a child with Maggie, and since the death of his close friend Skipper, Brick has become an alcoholic.
The story of the play happens during the patriarch Big Daddy’s 65th birthday, and the family is celebrating the diagnosis of Big Daddy no longer having cancer.
The plot thickens when the audience learns that all of the family members have been lying to Big Daddy and his wife Big Mama about the diagnosis. Big Daddy does in fact have cancer, and it will be terminal. Gooper and his wife have also been scheming behind Big Daddy’s back to inherit the plantation after his passing.
Act two involves a heart to heart conversation between Brick and his father, where Big Daddy asks his son why he drinks. After dancing around the question and giving half answers, Brick admits that he drinks because of disgust of himself, as it is implied that he and Skipper had a romantic relationship, and Brick rejected Skipper’s confession. Shortly after this, Skipper took his own life. Brick drinks to drown out the guilt he feels. Brick also tells his father the truth about his diagnosis in this conversation, which infuriates Big Daddy.
The production took place on the nights of November 22nd and 23rd in the Vanier auditorium. The play was directed by second year Liberal Arts student Samuel Helguero, and was funded by the VCSA. The entire cast and crew were also Vanier students. All of those involved put on an amazing performance and worked very hard to make the play come to fruition.
Samuel began to organise this production last winter semester in February with auditions, and the first practices happened the following month. However, many new cast members were added this semester due to previous members graduating or not being able to continue their role. Samuel also modified the play by cutting parts of it for time, and removing colloquialisms of the time such as “negro”.
Although Cat on A Hot Tin Roof was written decades ago, the play still explores many relevant themes and shows human interaction in a realistic way. When asked why he chose to direct this play specifically, Samuel said that after reading the play in his first semester at Vanier, he was struck by how different it was from Shakespeare plays and musicals that he was used to reading and performing in. He went on to explain that “the play romanticizes daily life in a beautiful, relatable and tragic way”. Samuel also liked that the play hits many truths about life and is filled with ambiguity, leaving the audience thinking about it afterwards.
The themes of mendacity and lack of fulfillment are very prominent in Cat on A Hot Tin Roof. The play brings forth existential questions such as what one should do as they age and become less apt to do what they define themselves as, such as Brick hitting a wall so to speak when he can no longer play football, or Big Daddy facing his impending demise and struggling to fit his role as head of the household. Mendacity, defined as untruthfulness, is also a prominent theme in this play, as all of the characters are either lying to one another or themselves.
The play shows what types of pits people sink into when they are faced with losing proficiency in areas that they define themselves against, and explores the idea of what happens when one loses the meaning of their life. This play also brings forth the notion of the American Dream, and what constitutes as achieving it. This dream is embedded in the fabric of our society, and says that having a big family and copious of money equates to success, and that hard work will allow you to achieve the Dream. Wouldn’t it be funny if it were true.
Brick: Bailey Habberfield Smith
Maggie The Cat: Abigail Chu
Big Daddy: Jonah Zalmanovitch
Big Mama: Sophie McCafferty
Gooper: Bardia Sharestani
Mae: Manel Ouriachi
Dr.Baugh: Ethan Armand Hotchkiss
Reverend Tooker: Rhyan McNeil
Written by: India-Lynn Upshaw-Ruffner