BOX OFFICE 610.644.3500

The Rainmaker

By N. Richard Nash

Directed by Abigail Adams

September 18-October 13, 2013

Leonard C. Haas Stage

A fast-talking charmer with promises of rain changes the lives of a farm town starved for water and a woman starved for love. Romantic. Tender. Uplifting. Philadelphia native N. Richard Nash’s breakthrough hit about the power of faith in hard times is “a down-to-earth piece of unstinting humanity.” (Los Angeles Times)

Approximate run time is 2 hours, 20 minutes with one 15-minute intermission. This show is best enjoyed by audiences 10 and up.

Dinner and a Show Packages! Enjoy a prix fixe dinner and a show package for $70 (Wed-Thurs) and $80 (Fri-Sun) at The Farmhouse Bistro prior to Wed-Sun evening performances. That's a savings of up to 15% off the single ticket price! If you already have tickets, you can add dinner for just $35. Click here to view the menu.

Click here to purchase.

Scoop on Sunday: History, Context, and Gossip
People’s Light continues its program called Scoop on Sundays: History, Context, and Gossip, a lively discussion before every Sunday 7 pm performance. Resident Dramaturg Gina Pisasale will host an artist from the production and get the inside scoop about such things as the rehearsal and production process, design choices, and the world of the play. The program begins at 5:30 in The Farmhouse Bistro on September 22, October 6 and 13. Cost of $15 includes light fare. Call the Box Office at 610.644.3500.

Actors, prices, productions, performance dates and times are subject to change. Additional fees or upgrades will apply. Contact the Box Office for details.

H.C. Curry: Graham Smith*
Noah Curry: Kevin Bergen*
Jim Curry: John Jarboe*
Lizzie Curry: Nancy McNulty*
File: Pete Pryor*
Sheriff Thomas: Mark Lazar*
Bill Starbuck: Michael Sharon*
Director: Abigail Adams
Set Design: Wilson Chin
Costume Designer: Terese Wadden
Lighting Designer: Dennis Parichy
Production Stage Manager: Audrey M. Brown*
Sound Designer: Christopher Colucci
Dramaturg: Gina Pisasale
Consulting Dramaturg: Lee Devin
Fight Choreographer: Samantha Bellomo
Line Producer: Abigail Adams


* Member, Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers.

The Story
The Playwright
The World of the Play
Our Production


The Story

Set in 1936 during the late summer in Western Iowa, the story is situated at a time of drought. Cattle are “down and out” on the Curry ranch and temperatures are a stifling 104 degrees at night. We meet Lizzie Curry, a “plain” but smart, patient, and steady woman, when her dreams for herself and her future are as parched as the land. Her father, H.C. and her brothers, Noah and Jim, worry that she’ll never find love and try numerous matchmaking schemes, such as inviting the single town deputy, File – a man with his own cares, to supper.

On just another night with no sign of rain, when desperation has crept into the characters’ lives, Bill Starbuck, a picaresque stranger with a “mellifluous tongue,” blows into the Curry’s home claiming that he can bring rain – for $100. His arrival does incite change for the characters, but it’s the kind of change that’s both unexpected and revitalizing. Starbuck admits that he is a con man – a term short for “confidence man” – but his exuberance somehow releases the confidence of the others, allowing them to open up to new possibilities where there are no guarantees.

Characters

H.C. Curry – owner of the Curry ranch. Father and widower. A good man to take store in.
Noah Curry – manager of the Curry ranch. H.C.’s son. Rational and hardworking.
Jim Curry – H.C.’s son. Works on the family ranch. Bighearted and eager.
Lizzie Curry – H.C’s daughter. 27 years old and single. Smart, patient and steady.
File – town deputy. Single. Lives in the Sheriff’s office. Private but has a wry humor.
Sheriff Thomas – Sheriff of Three Point and the surrounding area. Thoughtful and kind.
Bill Starbuck – Rainmaker. A con man with big dreams.


The Playwright

“His plays came at a time in American history in which new forms were beginning to trying to break free of the realism that had dominated the stage for more than two decades. In his work in the 1950s in particular, we see the experimentation and rejection of realism that would become mainstream by the mid-sixties, but, regrettably, was sometimes too ahead of its time for critics. Throughout his work there is an ongoing exploration of the position of the individual within a stagnant society and the power of that person to change his or her environment through faith, imagination, and courage.”
                                        ~ Comment made by Matt Hall on Nash’s official website on June 6, 2009

Personal background:
• Born Nathan Richard Nusbaum in Philadelphia, PA on June 8, 1913
• Youngest of 6 children. He had 5 older sisters.
• His father Sael L. Nusbaum, “a bit of a dreamer,” was an amateur reporter, bookbinder, and political activist. He died when Nathan was 16.
• His mother Jenny Singer Nusbaum was a “tough, resourceful woman who managed the family grocery store through the Depression, finding ways to feed neighbors and passerby when they were down on their luck.”
• Fairly successful as a $10/match boxer as a teenager
• Older sister, Mae, helped him overcome his stuttering problem by being a tirelessly patient listener (“Mae got me into a corner and would say to me, ‘Talk,’” Nash remembered. “She would say, ‘I’m here, I’ll stay here, I won’t rush you, and I won’t leave you. Now talk.’ Her willingness to listen is what saved my life. And this is what the play is about.”) Her patience and persistence was the model for Lizzie.
• Education:
     o South Philadelphia High School ‘30
     o University of Pennsylvania ’34 (majoring in English and Philosophy)
• Taught at Penn, Bryn Mawr, Haverford College
• Worked at the advertising agency NW Air, where he is said to have originated a number of very successful campaigns, including the slogan for De Beers, "A diamond is forever."
• Married actress Helena Taylor in 1935 and had a son Christopher. They moved to L.A. when Nusbaum began to write for movie studios. In Hollywood, Nusbaum became N. Richard Nash. Cristopher remembers several conversations about how the name should be chosen, including one evening at the kitchen table, the family gathered around a telephone book. He recalls his father saying, "Nash, yes, that's it."
• Nash divorced Helena in 1954 and moved to NY. Christopher was 16.
• Nash married actress Janice Rule in 1956, but they divorced that same year.
• Nash married actress and television host Katherine Copeland in 1956 and had two daughters, Jennifer and Amanda.
• In the early 1960s, he created and operated a successful mail-order wood working company, Country Crafts, through which he sold reproduction furniture that he made and marketed himself.
• After achieving success as a writer, he returned to teaching when he had time and taught at Yale, Princeton, and Brandeis Universities.
• Nash died in Manhattan on December 11, 2000 at age 87.

Professional background:

Plays
As N. Richard Nusbaum
     So Wonderful! (In White) (1937), one-act
     Incognito (1941)
     Parting at Imsdorf (1941), one-act, won the Maxwell Anderson Verse Drama Award
     Sky Road: A Comedy of the Airways (1941)
As N. Richard Nash
     Second Best Bed (1946), Broadway debut
     The Young and Fair (1948)
     See the Jaguar (1952)
     The Rainmaker (1954)
     Girls of Summer (1956)
     Handful of Fire (1958)
     Fire! (1969), written under pseudonym John Roc*
     Echoes (1973)
     Torch (1985)
     Rouge Atomic (date unknown)
     Everybody, Smile! (unproduced)
     Breaking the Tie (unproduced)
     Alchemy (unproduced)
     Yes, Tom, Yes! (unproduced)
     Bluebird of Happiness (unproduced)
     The Green Clown (unproduced)
     The Loss of D-Natural (unproduced)

Musicals
     Wildcat (1960), starring Lucille Ball
     110 in the Shade (1963), adaptation of The Rainmaker, Nominated for Tony Award, starring Audra McDonald
     The Happy Time (1968), nominated for Tony Award for Best Musical
     Saravà (1979)

Screenplays
     Welcome Stranger (1946), starring Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald, Paramount.
     Nora Prentiss (1946), Warner Bros.
     The Sainted Sisters (1948), adapted with Harry Clork from the short story, "The Sainted Sisters of Sandy Creek,” by      Elisa Bialk, Paramount
     Dear Wife (1950), Paramount
     The Vicious Years (1950), Film Classics
     The Flying Missile (1951), Columbia
     Molly (1951), adapted from the radio serial, "The Goldbergs," by Gertrude Berg, Paramount
     Mara Maru (1952), Warner Bros.
     Helen of Troy (1956)
     Top of the World (1955), United Artists
     The Rainmaker (1956), based on Nash’s play, starring Katharine Hepburn and Burt Lancaster, Paramount
     Porgy and Bess (1959), adapted from the folk opera by George Gershwin, Columbia
     Between the Darkness and the Dawn (1985)

Teleplays
     "House in Athens," National Broadcasting Co. (NBC).
     "The Rainmaker" (based on the author's play of the same title), NBC.
     "The Brownstone," NBC.
     "The Happy Rest," NBC.
     "The Young and Fair" (based on Nash's play of the same title), NBC.
     "The Arena," NBC.
     "Welcome Home," American Broadcasting Co. (ABC).
     "The Joker," ABC.
     12 episodes of Here Come the Brides (1968-69)
     Also contributor of teleplays to:
        "Philco Playhouse"
        "General Electric Theater"
        "U.S. Steel Hour"
        "Television Playhouse"
        "Theater Guild of the Air"

Novels
     Cry Macho (1975)
     East Wind, Rain (1977)
     The Last Magic (1978)
     Aphrodite's Cave (1980)
     Radiance (1983)
     Winter Blood (1971), written under pseudonym John Roc*

* Fire! and Winter Blood were two very dark works. Convinced that no one would take these works seriously if written under his own name, he wrote under the pseudonym John Roc and managed to keep his authorship a secret from almost everyone but his immediate family until his memorial service in the spring of 2001.


Iowa & The Drought of 1936

In 2012, a significant drought struck Iowa that is and its aftermath is still being felt through today. Its severity has caused farmers and historians to compare it to the Iowa “drought of 1936.”



Background and Compounding Factors





The Homestead Act

After the Civil War, the Homestead Act of 1863 increased settlements in the Midwest and Great Plains region of the U.S., an area known as the “Great American Desert.” An unusually wet period in the Great Plains led settlers and government to believe that "rain follows the plow" and that the climate of the region had changed permanently. Overgrazing and the expanse of land cultivation that eliminated the natural diverse grasses that had adapted to the drought cycles in that vast area proved to be detrimental.








Growing Population

Immigration into the region began again at the beginning of the 20th century. A return of unusually wet weather confirmed the previously held opinion that the "formerly" semi-arid area could support large-scale agriculture. Technological improvements led to increased automation, which allowed for cultivation on an ever greater scale. World War I increased agricultural prices, which also encouraged farmers to drastically increase cultivation.






Economic Stress

When prices fell in the 1920s, farmers increased production, overlooking established soil conservation practices, in desperate attempts to earn revenue. Farmers turned to cultivating poorer quality farmlands, which led to further soil erosion and nutrient leaching. After the stock market crashed, prices dropped so low that the price of a bushel of corn fell to just eight or ten cents. Some farm families began burning corn rather than coal in their stoves because corn was cheaper. Sometimes the countryside smelled like popcorn from all the corn burning in the kitchen stoves.


The Drought

The middle and late 30s saw one of the worst droughts in U.S. history.

The dry years in Iowa began in 1933 and were felt most acutely in 1936. As the spring of 1936 approached, Iowans hoped that all the snow during the past winter had been a good sign. As the weather warmed up, farmers searched the sky for signs of rain. "There would be black clouds, just as black as black, and lightning and thunder. The clouds would reach clear to the ground and they'd come rolling in," said J. Bruce Haddock. But the clouds seemed to tease the farmers—rain fell, but "only a few drops."

As the drought continued, the corn crop withered in the fields. "On the Fourth of July," Haddock remembered, "the corn was just as tall as the wheel on the cultivator. And by a month later it was as though someone had pulled it back into the ground."



Grasshoppers

Grasshoppers thrived in the dry, hot weather. They attacked the few crops still growing. Ruby Howorth recalled how grasshoppers on their Crawford County farm seemed to devour everything. "We left a pitchfork sit outside. You could see where they chewed into the wood on the pitchfork. Now that sounds crazy, but that's the truth."






The Dust Bowl blows into Iowa

States farther west were suffering from the drought too. As plants died on the Great Plains, there was nothing to hold the soil in place. Winds picked up the soil and carried it in dark, swirling clouds of dust. These states were called the Dust Bowl. But the clouds of dust did not stop at state boundaries. They hit Iowa too.









"The dust settled so thickly on the pastures that the cattle would not eat," author James Hearst wrote later about 1934-1936, "and cows, and calves, and steers wandered about bawling their hunger. We found it hard to believe. We all knew about dust storms in the dry plains of the Southwest, but for drought and wind and dust to sweep, like a plague, over the fertile fields of Blackhawk County, Iowa, seemed a bad dream." Dust drifted two or three feet high, around fences and buildings. Dust sifted into houses, under doors and through cracks around windows. It filled the air, darkening the day.

"The year I came here to teach," recalled Georgette Haddock, "that fall the dust storms were here. And most of the time for several weeks that fall we'd have our lights on, because it was like evening."

From an address by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered on September 6, 1936:
“I have been on a journey of husbandry…I saw drought devastation in nine states. I talked with families who had lost…their corn crop, lost their livestock, lost the water in their well…facing a winter without feed or food, facing a planning season without seed to put in the ground…

Yet I would not have you think for a single minute that there is a permanent disaster in these drought regions…No cracked earth, no blistering sun, no burning wind, no grasshoppers, are a permanent match for the indomitable American farmers and stockmen and their wives and children who have carried on through desperate days, and inspire us with their self-reliance, their tenacity and their courage. It was their fathers’ task to make homes; it is their task to keep those homes; it is our task to help them with their fight.”


A Short History of Pluviculture in the American West

by Martin Schwartz


Rainmaking and the Mid-Century Mind Reading or watching The Rainmaker in our empirical age, we may be inclined to dismiss the very notion of producing rain from the ground—to say nothing of the thought of paying someone for their efforts—as fanciful at best. The Currys’ willingness even to entertain the idea that the itinerant Starbuck’s boasts could be anything but a scam might strike us as extremely wishful thinking. To appreciate N. Richard Nash’s work in its original context, however, we must recognize how far removed our automatic skepticism towards what seems to us an exotic, primitive superstition is from the relative currency rainmaking and rainmakers would have had in the minds of an audience of Nash’s contemporaries.

While a New York audience of the middle 1950s would likely have shared at least a modicum of our suspicion towards “pluviculture,” even the scientific case against rainmaking would by no means have appeared closed to them, and the cultural significance of the phenomenon was palpable, especially in the West. Pseudoscientific American rainmaking, many of the hallmarks of which we can discern in Starbuck’s unusual practices, was a fixture of the culture, economy, and lore of the western United States throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. A 1954 scholarly article called “Hatfield the Rainmaker” in Western Folklore refers to rainmaking as “one of the more contemporary miracles of science,” and the editors of the Stanford Law Review took it seriously enough to publish an article entitled “Tort Liability for Rainmaking” in 1949. Regarding the rainmakers themselves, mainstream media paid them considerable attention even years after The Rainmaker debuted. The Dallas Morning News of June 15, 1963, matter-of-factly reported that one Neal Bosco of Fabens, Texas, was offered $750 by residents of Waco to use “a system of flares which he ignites to release material which he says ‘seeds’ the clouds to make them release their moisture.”

Early History and the Golden Age
While the art of rainmaking was far from dead by the premiere of Nash’s play, the craft had already seen its glory days come and go well before World War II. Although, as W.E. Steps remarks in Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science, “the period of greatest early day activity in Kansas in the rainmaking field occurred during the drouth [sic] years of 1890 to 1894,” the history of rainmaking in the American West goes back a good deal farther than that. Numerous Native American groups, famously including the Hopi, have dedicated dances and highly cultivated rituals to the coming rains for millennia, and rainmaking and rain dances became a staple of western U.S. folklore.





Though Starbuck’s methods themselves may owe more to pioneer folklore and the iconographic figure of the lone rainmaker on the Plains, the government and the scientific establishment also made significant forays into rainmaking during the 19th century. As Barbara Tuthill observes, the names of authorities like James P. Espy, General Robert Dryenforth, L. Gatham, Edward Powers, and William Morse Davis were frequently on the lips of rainmakers as they set up their towers or prepared their gaseous emissions. Almost all of these scholars have been more or less willfully forgotten by the scientific community.

To help us understand the position of rainmaking in the American society of the 1890s, it might be worthwhile to take a look at the procedure of the first government appointed rainmaker, General Dryenforth. Congress appropriated some $19,000 in the drought years of the early 1890s to conduct official tests of rainmaking methods. Under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture, Dryenforth set off to Texas to begin the experiments. His cargo included: “sixty-eight explosive balloons, three large balloons for making ascensions, and material for making one hundred cloth-covered kites, beside the necessary explosives, etc.” Of the experiment, according to Caldwell, “an observer stated that ‘it was a beautiful imitation of a battle.’” Though the results of the government tests were inconclusive, the official experiments only served to heighten the popular appeal of rainmaking—and rainmakers.

Despite government involvement, however, the tradition of rainmaking in the American West was dominated by the charisma and discretion of lone men. They always made certain that their reputations preceded them, often made reference to science in their broad claims about their practices, and invariably kept their “secret” close to the breast. Their methods commonly included producing explosions, releasing chemical gases, or building large towers on public fairgrounds for indeterminate purposes.

During the 1890s some theorized that smoke particles blown into the clouds would precipitate rain. Above are examples of William F. Wright’s “Rainmaking Funnels”


Frank Melbourne and the Kansas Drought
During the Kansas drought of 1890–94, Frank Melbourne, the first great star of western rainmaking, came to prominence, traveling much of the region plying his craft. Because of his self-mythologizing, wide success, itinerant habits, and overblown assertions about the efficacy of his methods, Melbourne’s story typifies the conception of the rainmaker in the popular culture of his time. Martha B. Caldwell writes:

The fame of Frank Melbourne, said to be an Australian, as a “rain wizard” had spread throughout the country. Marvelous stories were told of his operations at Canton, Ohio, where he was said to so control the weather that he could “bring rain at a given hour.” Since he was fond of outdoor sports he “so adjusted his machine that all the Sunday rains come late in the afternoon, after the baseball games and horse races for the day are over.” Mr. Melbourne said his machine was “so simple that were its character known to the public every man would soon own one and bring rain whenever he felt like it.”

Melbourne’s operations in Goodland, Kansas, were, in classic rainmaking style, both profoundly public and veiled in an intentional secrecy.

[O]n Wednesday he took his rain apparatus to the fair grounds to begin work [which] he performed in great secrecy; no one was allowed within the building and to keep the inquisitive from coming too close a rope barrier was erected about twenty feet from the building and the windows were curtained. However, everyone went up and “gazed” at the building and the small hole in the roof through which cloud-making substances escaped. . . . The upper story, containing four windows facing the different points of the compass, was Melbourne’s workroom. The room also contained a hole in the roof four inches in diameter for the escape of rain-making gases.

The residents of Goodland and numerous other Plains cities treated Melbourne’s work with the utmost seriousness. He was greeted with an official welcome wherever he went, and although there was always a vocal minority of those who considered his rainmaking either fraudulent or blasphemous, the arrival of the rainmaker was nothing if not a major civic event. Rainmaking, the “never-failing drought crop,” as W. J. Humphries of the Weather Bureau put it, continued on in the Plains until relatively recently, but on a decidedly more modest scale. By the turn of the 20th century, with endless trainloads of people from all walks of life streaming into the semi-arid region of Southern California and trying to farm, the area of greatest uncertainty about rain had shifted west, and the stage for the greatest rainmaker of them all had been set.


The Great Rainmaker
As in so many genres, the rainmaker who enjoyed the widest acclaim and power—the man who epitomized his medium—was the last of his kind. Though the journalist and historian Carey McWilliams calls Charles Mallory Hatfield—or Hatfield the Rainmaker, as he was popularly known, or simply the Great Rainmaker—“the first popular folk-hero” of Southern California, he lacked the unpolished braggadocio of the midwestern huckster of the 1890s: Hatfield was a professional. This “moisture accelerator,” whom nearly every Southern California municipality contracted between 1903 and 1928 “for fees ranging from $50 to $10,000,” was described in the San Diego Union as “a quietly dressed, slender man of middle height with square shoulders, who is crowding forty.” Well versed in the scientific literature, Hatfield peppered his sentences with scientific- sounding phrases, called himself a specialist in “meteorology, the science of the atmosphere,” and referred to his métier as creating “a chemical attraction or an affinity working in harmony with natural forces that make rain.”


While his language and appearance may have been more refined than those of his Midwestern brethren, his means were similar. When contracted by a community, he would typically have several towers (or “evaporating tanks”) built, generally between 12 and 20 feet high, topped with platforms. These tanks gave the distinct impression that the rainmaker was hard at work, with the added benefit of ensuring that the public could have no clear idea of what exactly he was doing. On each platform, there were, “galvanized iron pans about 3 feet square and 9 inches deep containing Hatfield’s chemicals”—or, as Hatfield himself put it, “certain chemicals the character of which must necessarily remain secret.” Hatfield’s true methods, however, were the very soul of western rainmaking; as McWilliams writes:

Hatfield was a close student of weather charts. His usual technique was to wait until the dry season was far advanced and the people were beginning to despair of rain. Then he would appear upon the scene, sometimes as late as mid-January, and obtain a contract to produce rain within, say, thirty or sixty days. And of course he never missed.

Dependent as rainmaking is on the vagaries of climate, most men who set themselves up as rainmakers were able to celebrate a triumph or two. Unlike most rainmakers, however, Hatfield almost never failed, and his successes were fantastic. “One of his last great feats,” reports McWilliams, “was to produce forty inches of rainfall in three hours on the Mojave Desert near Randsburg.” Impressive though his desert deluge may seem, it pales in comparison to his San Diego flood of 1916.


“The most potent test I ever made,” Hatfield called the flood, and the damages it incurred ran into the tens of millions of dollars. The San Diego Union of December 14, 1915, records: “The city council signed a contract yesterday with Hatfield, the Moisture Accelerator. He has promised to fill the Morena reservoir to overflowing by December 20, 1916, for $10,000.” Hatfield immediately began setting up his “evaporator tanks” at Morena. By January 20, writes Tuthill, “Black headlines screamed, ‘San Diego in State of Flood.’” The next day, Hatfield was reputed to have called City Hall, saying, “I just wanted to tell you that it is only sprinkling now. So far we have encountered only a couple of showers. Within the next few days I expect to make it really rain.” The torrents continued, with brief respites, for weeks, breaking the Otay dam, leaving thousands homeless, many dead, and San Diego entirely cut off from the rest of the country. This was rainmaking on a grand scale, and Hatfield became an instant national celebrity. When he showed up at City Hall, demanding his $10,000, the City Attorney told him that he would give him credit for the water in the reservoir only if he accepted the $6,000,000 in suits filed against the city for flood damages. Practical rainmaker that he was, Hatfield declined.

Contracts in California stopped coming in once the Boulder Dam Act was passed in 1928, guaranteeing a secure source of water, and since the Great Rainmaker’s retreat into private life, large-scale weather modification has been undertaken almost entirely through government offices.

Charles Hatfield attends the opening of the Burt Lancaster movie, "The Rainmaker" in 1956

While rainmaking might not have been the model of contemporary scientific thought for Nash and his audience, they would have had several powerful ideas to draw from on the subject. The archetypes of the government scientist, the itinerant Plains rainmaker, and the modern, miracle-working “moisture accelerator” would all have enriched the original audience’s appreciation of The Rainmaker.


Inside the Production

From the Playwright, N. Richard Nash:

“When drought hits the lush grasslands of the richly fertile west, they are green no more and the dying is a palpable thing. What happens to the verdure and vegetation, to the cattle and livestock can be read in the coldly statistical little bulletins freely issued by the Department of Agriculture. What happens to the people of the west—beyond the calculable and terrible phenomena of sudden poverty and loss of substance—is an incalculable and febrile kind of desperation. Rain will never come again; the earth will be sere forever; and in all of heaven, there is no promise of remedy.

Yet, men of wisdom like H.C. Curry know to be patient with heaven. They know that the earth will not thirst forever; they know that one day they will again awaken to a green morning. Young people like Lizzie, his daughter, cannot know this as certainly as he does. Bright as she is, she cannot know. She can only count the shooting stars, and hope.

The play is set in such a drought-beset region in the moment when Lizzie’s hope is faltering. Because the hopes of Lizzie and H.C., of Jim and Starbuck and File are finally brought to blessing, because the people of the play are deserving and filled with love of one another—and most important, because it is not always that the hopes of deserving, loving human beings are blessed — this play is a comedy and it is a romance. It must never be forgotten that it is a romance.”

From Set Designer, Wilson Chin:

“In designing the play, it was important for us to capture the intense physical heat, so I designed an enormous, abstract sun that hovers over the world of the play. And the heat is so intense that the sun penetrates the walls, leaving only the barest of skeletons to represent the Curry household. Ultimately, the hope is that the design is both romantic and hard-edged, specific to the story and characters but also universal and cosmic.”

The Curry's are working ranchers and their clothes are working people's clothes that have changed very little over 80 years.

Lizzie's new dress is a Sunday best. Starbuck is traveler who is criss-crossing the American West selling his version of ‘hope.’ He is a charmer, a pool hall shark, and doesn't have to dress like a working man - thus the worn but dressier clothes.”

From Costume Designer, Terese Wadden:

“I approached this show through the lens of realism. I looked at a lot of WPA photographers' work who were sent all over America in the 1930s. We mostly see the published images of poor victims of the dust bowl, but those photographers documented everything and everybody coast to coast.
The Curry's are working ranchers and their clothes are working people's clothes that have changed very little over 80 years.

Lizzie's new dress is a Sunday best. Starbuck is traveler who is criss-crossing the American West selling his version of ‘hope.’ He is a charmer, a pool hall shark, and doesn't have to dress like a working man - thus the worn but dressier clothes.”