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Studio 58’s The Skin of Our Teeth breaks conventions to reach its audience

76-year-old play still relevant, still radical

Erin Palm as 'Sabina' in Studio 58's production of Thornton Wilder's play, 'Skin of Our Teeth,' currently showing at Langara College.
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Reported by Desirée Garcia

Langara’s Studio 58 is breaking theatrical convention in its rendition of The Skin of Our Teeth to generate discussion about climate change, politics and human resilience.

Pulitzer prize winner Thornton Wilder wrote The Skin of Our Teeth in 1942. The story of a family overcoming seemingly endless disasters (the first act involves the ice age, the second approaching the end of the world and the third act deals with the aftermath of a seven year war) still resonates with audiences 76 years later.

Contemporary characters, timeless themes
The cast of Studio 58’s production of ‘Skin of Our Teeth.’ David Cooper photo.

Director Sarah Rodgers said that the play has been produced more times this season than it has in recent years, likely because of the resemblance between Mr. Antrobus, the father and politician of the family, and President Donald Trump.

“There is a real connection to the political climate that we are living today and this play,” said Rodgers, who defines the character of Antrobus as highly egocentric.

Erin Palm is in her second year with Studio 58 and plays Sabina, the family’s household help. Her character frequently breaks the fourth wall, meaning she refers to the audience directly.

“Some people left halfway through the show because it just broke so many theatrical conventions, but that’s probably my favorite part about it,” Palm said.

Resilience always relevant

The play’s stage manager, Heather Barr, said that despite the play opening 76 years ago it is still highly relevant to modern times as it is about the resilience of human beings. The Antrobus family endure various disasters, starting off with the ice age which subtly brings about the topic on climate change.

“In one of the acts, the family is separated, and another disaster happens, and they come together, and they make it through.” Barr said. “We can’t do it alone, we can do it together.”

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