PHS actors amuse audience with Wilde’s ‘The Canterville Ghost’

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The Perry High School Theater Department's fall production of "The Canterville Ghost" was successfully staged this weekend at the Perry Performing Arts Center. Photo courtesy Doug Wood

The Perry High School Drama Department’s fall production of “The Canterville Ghost” was successfully staged this weekend at the Perry Performing Arts Center.

Published in 1887, “The Canterville Ghost” was the famous English dramatist Oscar Wilde’s first published short story. Wilde’s amusing tale satirizes the Gothic horror stories once fashionable in England and America. It pits a rather pathetic aristocratic ghost, Sir Simon de Canterville,  who haunts an old English country house, against the sober pragmatism and commercial commodities young America, embodied by the Otis family, whose name perhaps suggests their newly elevated status.

The 22-person PHS cast included:

  • Virginia: Kyla McKenzie
  • Sir Simon: Riley Sergent
  • Mr. Horace Otis: Jefry Gonzalez
  • Mrs. Lucy Otis: Candace Hoisington
  • Pam: Alexa Nelson
  • Will: Andres Zarate
  • Mrs. Umney: Maddy Hollingsworth
  • Jennie: Kaylee Hay
  • Cromwell: Andres Viveros
  • Monsieur Balaklava: Ethan Jackson
  • Cecil: Hunter Ayers
  • Vicar: Jesus Gonzalez
  • Mrs. Dampier: Kimberly Flores
  • Lady Canterville: Olivia Christensen
  • Martin the Maniac: Dominic Rinner
  • Lord Joseph the Graveless: Seth Borgeson
  • Hester the Horrid: Kenneth Martinez
  • Vampire Duchess: Yajaira Hernandez
  • Weeds: Levi Thoren
  • Mrs. Midwinter: Natalee Newhouse
  • Mrs. Musgrave: Jasmine Agreda
  • Mrs. Hastings: Addy Spitler

Ten years after writing “The Canterville Ghost,” while Wilde was imprisoned in England for homosexuality, he proposed something he called the Confraternity of the Faithless, implying that he himself put no credence in the premise of his ghost story. His American audiences differed in this.

According to a September 2021 poll, 41% of American adults believes in ghosts, and another 20% is unsure. By contrast, 77% of Americans believes in angels, according to a 2011 poll, and that fraction in not likely to have shrunk in the interim. Similarly, 73% of American adults believes in heaven, but only 62% believes in hell, which probably speaks to the innate optimism of the American character. Some 61% of American adults believes in both heaven and hell. A slender 1% believes in hell only.

The school’s fall production was directed by Drama Department Director by Randy Peterson.

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