Transy Theatre Presents: The Children’s Hour

Photography by Caroline Host

It’s February 2024, and Transy’s campus is back in full swing. Spring break is approaching, athletes are preparing for a busy season, and while many students have spent the month counting candy hearts, the theater department here at Transy is preparing for its upcoming production of The Children’s Hour. Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Sofia Ricketts (’25), who serves as the show’s assistant director, assistant stage manager, and dramaturg. Our discussion focused on her thoughts on the production and its themes.

Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour (1934) is a three-act tragedy originally performed for audiences in America and London. The story takes place in rural northeast America during the 1930s at a boarding school for girls. It begins with a petty rumor started by one of the students that rapidly spirals out of control, forever changing the characters’ lives. It was widely criticized during its original run due to its portrayal of homosexuality, which, at the time, was still prohibited in most public productions. Despite this, the play was acclaimed for its literary merit and overall quality and has since been revived several times.

Photography by Caroline Host

During our conversation, Ricketts and I discussed the comparative impact of performing The Children’s Hour in its original year of release versus performing it today. In 1934, Children’s Hour was identifiable by its blatant and sympathetic portrayal of homosexuality at a time when such an opinion was unpopular. While homosexuality is still a point of contention, Ricketts conceded that the original focus of the show has less effect on today’s audiences and Transy’s student body, specifically due to its diverse nature. I asked Ricketts what a modern takeaway from our production would be, and she suggested Hellman’s focus on truth and lies. In a world dominated by social media and fake news, it’s easier than ever to be taken in by rumors. The Children’s Hour demonstrates the danger of this. As Ricketts pointed out, “The tragedy in this show is caused by rumors, so I think the message is to do your own research. Don’t just believe whatever you hear.” 

In the end, she said, “That’s what it comes down to; not a warning, but a dramatized lesson. Like any tragedy is.”

Transylvania’s production of The Children’s Hour is being directed by Tosha Fowler, our current head of the Theater Department. Fowler has previously directed several other productions at Transy, the most recent being Angels in America in Winter 2023. Rehearsals will continue until production, scheduled from February 28 through March 3. Tickets are available for reservation now through @transytheater on Instagram.

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Hello! I’m Peyton Dunaway. I’m a junior here at Transy and I’m currently majoring in WRC, although I’m considering a minor. I’m also involved with TUnity and the theater program, and I encourage everyone to come see a play of ours sometime. I’ve recently been working with the writing/editing team, and I’ve written a couple of stories already. I'm hoping to do lots more before I graduate next May. I don’t know if I’d like to write for a living, but I’ve always had a love for the medium, and I hope to keep falling in love with storytelling for the rest of my life.