Mary Paola in the role of Mary Girard in her “treatment chair” during rehearsal for Mount Desert Island High School’s One Act drama entry, “The Insanity of Mary Girard.” PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRIS DOUGHERTY

‘Insanity’ takes stage at MDIHS

BAR HARBOR — Mount Desert Island High School Drama will give its first public performance of “The Insanity of Mary Girard,” directed by Casey Rush, its entry in the state One Act Festival competition, on March 4 at 7 p.m. at the Mount Desert Island High School Higgins-Demas Theater. Donations will be accepted at the door and will benefit the Black Rose Fund to renovate the theater.

MDI High School senior Mary Paola stars as Mary Girard. The Furies who torment and soothe Mary as the drama unfolds in her mind are played by Ethan Leonard, Sammie Park, Thistle Swann, Desmond Reifsnyder and Sarah Soucek. Stephen Girard is played by Emerson Jeffery.

The set design by Max Cornman and lighting design by Christina Closson create a vision of hell on earth in the lunatic ward in the basement of the Pennsylvania Hospital, augmented by the sound design by Ben Hagle, Jacob Sanner and Alex Fisichella. Costumes are by Marilee Marchese.

The challenging and disturbing play by Lanie Robertson explores the line between madness and sanity through the story of Mary Girard, the wife of noted 18th-century Philadelphia millionaire banker and philanthropist Stephen Girard, who was committed to a mental asylum. Was she truly mad? Or did her husband effectively rid himself of an encumbrance who had become pregnant by another man when he had her committed in 1790?

Robertson has an answer, and it is a chilling indictment of the powerful over the powerless, the barbaric treatment of the mentally ill and the ease with which women could be deprived of their civil rights. Due to its mature themes, viewer discretion is advised.

The Eastern Regional of the Maine Drama Festival will be held at MDI High School on March 10-11, when schools from Class A and B will vie for a spot at the state competitions. Performances will be given by Deer Isle-Stonington High School, Hampden Academy, MDI High School, Shead High School, Sumner Memorial High School, Belfast Area High School, Washington Academy, Bangor High School and Brewer High School.

Show times for the “Insanity of Mary Girard” at the Mount Desert Island High School’s Higgins-Demas theater include Saturday, March 4, at 7 p.m.; the Regional drama fest performance on Friday, March 10, at 9 p.m.; and a special performance to benefit the theater’s Black Rose Fund on Wednesday, March 22, at 7 p.m.

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