Dr. Railsback talks Of Mice and Steinbeck

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Stories that are created always have a deeper meaning than the story itself, and after the performance “Of Mice and Men,” deeper meanings and symbolism were discussed.

On Friday, Oct. 3, Missouri Western had an opportunity to hear Dr. Brian Railsback, who taught Honors tutorial classes in creative writing and literature at Western Carolina University.

Railsback is an expert on John Steinbeck, who wrote “Of Mice and Men” and other wonderful stories.

“I like him because he’s known for being artistically courageous,” Railsback said. “He never did the same thing twice. He kept experimenting and changing, which was a big risk that critics didn’t like.”

While Railsback does enjoy the story “Of Mice and Men,” it’s not his favorite work by Steinbeck.

“My favorite novel of his, and most Steinbeck scholars like, [is] Cannery Row,” Railsback said. “It is an amazingly complicated book but it doesn’t read that way, it’s really simple.”

Railsback started the Q & A with an introduction about John Steinbeck and the history behind his works.

After the introduction, those who stayed got the chance to ask any question they wanted about the play.

Everyone who asked a question was looking for a deeper meaning of the story itself and the many signs of symbolisms found in it.

One audience member asked about Curley’s Wife, who doesn’t have a name and why she was always treated poorly.

Another audience member asked about the meaning of Curley’s glove and the irony that Lennie breaks his other hand.

The Q & A after the show also included Dr. Bob Willenbrink, who is the founding dean of fine arts at MWSU and Dallas Henry, the director of the show.

Willenbrink also enjoys Steinbeck’s work and thought it was very important for students to see.

“It’s an American classic written by a well-respected author, as well as a very fascinating story,” Willenbrink said. “It speaks to an audience and it provides them what life was like and very realistic.”

Dallas Henry was also asked some questions and participated in the Q & A.

One audience member asked Henry if he was shocked by the moments in the play in which people laughed.

“Right before the show, I told the everyone that there would be laughter, even inappropriate laughter,” Henry said. “I think some people just want to realease and laugh.”

Henry wanted to produce “Of Mice and Men” at MWSU for awhile now and was on his bucket list of shows to do.

He also was pleased with the turnout.

“I felt like the audience was with us the whole time,” Henry said. “Sometimes you get restless and people start moving around, but tonight people were locked in the story.”

Dr. Railsback also enjoyed the show and thought the performance was good.

“I wish we would have had more time to chat about it because there were some aspects of this production that Steinbeck would have appreciated,” Railsback said. “I think the portrayal of Lennie in this production was really interesting because Lennie is somewhat frightening character as he’s portrayed in this and his violence is really convincing, whereas I’ve seen other productions where it’s not.”

Railsback also said that Steinbeck would have appreciated the music in the production because Steinbeck loved music.

Both the play and the Q & A with Railsback were a big hit for MWSU and the play will continue to be in the near future.

There will be more showings “Of Mice and Men” at MWSU on Oct. 9-11.

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