Play Based on True Incident in Michigan History
Theatre intern Jonathon Musser of St. Louis makes his directing
debut with the full-length production of a critically acclaimed play
based on an actual incident in Michigan history.
Alma College Theatre presents “The Runner Stumbles” by Milan Stitt at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 12 through Saturday, April 14 and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 15.
Tickets are $8 for adults and free for Alma College staff, students and youth 18 and under. Seating is reserved. Call (989) 463-7304 for ticket information.
The story is based on a true incident that occurred in 1918 in northern Michigan. Sister Rita dies under mysterious circumstances, and her superior, Father Rivard, is charged with her murder.
“I chose to direct the play because I found it to be socially, politically and religiously significant to modern day times,” said Musser, a 2005 graduate of Alma College who served as the theatre department’s full-time intern during 2006-07.
The plot-driven play is atypical in style because it doesn’t have a chronological order; past events are dramatized in between present ones, said Musser. The action alternates between courtroom testimony and scenes from the past that reveal the anguished relationship between the nun and priest.
“In a sense, the play closely scrutinizes judicial law and holy law,” Musser said. “It seeks to untie us from the heavy chains of guilt, exposes the dangers of pride, and challenges us to confront the source of our suffering. Perhaps most of all, the play tests the boundaries of faith.”
The plot is based on the events surrounding the actual murder trial. A young nun is found buried in a shallow grave beneath the Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Solon Township. The play centers on what happens when everyone in the town starts talking about the incident.
The priest spends the duration of the play trying to remember what happened so he literally steps in and out of his own past, frantically re-living memories throughout his trial in a desperate search for truth and salvation.
“The Runner Stumbles” was produced off-Broadway and in regional theatres prior to its critically acclaimed Broadway production in 1976.
Posted: Sun, April 8th, 2007 at 1:35PM