It is Labor Day, and everyone is preparing for a neighborhood picnic.
“Picnic” is a three-act play written by William Inge, the author of “Bus Stop” and “Come Back, Little Sheba.” Set in a small Kansas town, “Picnic” details the lives of “ordinary” Americans, from hopeful widows and embittered spinsters to idealistic teenagers and restless wanderers.
The Putnam County Playhouse presents the production twice in September, from Sept 12 – 14, and again from Sept 18 – 24, at 8 p.m. each evening. Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased only by calling the box office at (765) 653-5880 from 5 – 7 p.m.
The prevailing message of “Picnic” is that youth is a gift to savor, not squander. Throughout, the adult characters envy the young. The setting for the original production was argued over by Inge and director Joshua Logan, so the play is presented on two back porches, making it a bit ironic that the play is called “Picnic” when there are no picnic scenes.
When it premiered in 1953, the play was Paul Newman’s Broadway debut. An unknown at the time, Newman campaigned for the leading role of Hal, but the director did not think Newman was physically large enough to convey the lead character’s athletic attributes.
The Putnam County Playhouse, now in its 58th year, is active from June thru September. It presents two musicals and two plays in the Hazel Day Longden Barn Theatre during those 16 weeks. Every other year, a children’s workshop play is also produced. “Picnic” is the final play of the 2019 season.