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BC Theatre Department presents "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds"

Shannon DeBari as Matilda (Tillie) in rehearsals for "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds" (Photo credit: Anthony Russo)

Chestnut Hill, MA (11-16-11)  – The Boston College Theatre Department presents its second production of the year, and first workshop production: the Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, directed by senior theatre major Marc Franklin. It will run from November 17–19, 2011 in the Bonn Studio of the University’s Robsham Theater Arts Center, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary season.

Set in a Staten Island home in 1970, …Marigolds delves into the dysfunctional lives of single mother Beatrice Hunsdorfer and her two daughters, Matilda and Ruth. Ruth is a pretty but highly-strung girl subject to convulsions; while the younger Matilda, introverted and shy, finds confidence through her intuitive gift and love for science. Encouraged by her science teacher, Tillie undertakes a gamma ray experiment with marigolds that wins a prize at her high school—and brings on the shattering climax of the play. Her mother, jealous of Tillie’s success due to her own unfulfilled life, tries to stifle her daughter’s ever-persevering spirit. A thought provoking, turbulent drama, …Marigolds, much like Tillie’s experiment, displays that something beautiful and full of promise can emerge from even the most barren and afflicted soil.

 “I could not remember a time in which I found a piece of art so personal to me,” says Franklin. “Gamma Rays allows me to reflect on my own family and truly appreciate the people who shaped me into the person that I am today.”

Playwright Paul Zindel is no stranger to the characters about which he writes. He grew up in a broken home in Staten Island, and earned a chemistry degree from Wagner College. When he was not studying science, he was being inspired and mentored by another successful playwright, Edward Albee. Zindel spent his free time writing novels and plays and taught high school science until 1969, when he left to pursue writing full-time. His achievements include eight plays, 39 novels and eight screenplays. …Marigolds garnered Zindel a Pulitzer Prize in 1971 and a New York Drama Circles Award.

It completed nearly one thousand performances between its off-Broadway and Broadway runs, and was adapted into a screenplay in 1972 for a film directed by the iconic Paul Newman. The piece was hailed by Variety as “…a masterful, pacesetting drama. It combines moments of pain, poignancy, beauty, and hope. It is the most compelling work of its kind since Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie."

The Robsham production features a BC student design team: Nancy McNamee ’12 (scenery), Meghan Crosby ’12 (costumes), Patrick Brazil ’12 (lighting) and Sara Komorowski ’14 (sound). It features Shannon DeBari ’13 as Matilda, Juliana Forsberg-Lary ’12 as Beatrice and Deidre McCourt ’12 as Ruth. Maggie Kearnan ’13 plays Nanny, an elderly building tenant, and Sarah Mass ’15 plays Janice, one of Tillie’s classmates.

The production opens Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. and runs through Saturday, November 19, 2011 in the Bonn Studio in the Robsham Theater Arts Center. General admission tickets are $15, $10 for students, seniors, and BC faculty and staff.  All tickets are available online at, through the RTAC Box Office, or by calling 617‐552‐4002. For more information, please go to

--Boston College Office of News & Public Affairs