FULDA - The Fulda Community Players will perform a drama depicting Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first days with infantile paralysis - a virus also known as polio.
The play, “Sunrise at Campobello” by Dore Schary, takes place at the Roosevelts’ summer home in Campobello, a town in Canada where Franklin contracts polio.
“This is much more than a searing drama, it is a beautiful play,” said Margaret Popp, the show’s co-director. “It’s just fascinating - and we have been watching it for weeks.”
The play’s 24 actors will interpret various roles including Franklin’s mother, wife and five children and how they react to his illness, said Wilma Lindquist, the play’s other co-director.
“His mother is overprotective because he is her only child,” Lindquist said. “She talks about how she tries to keep him under her control, but he won’t allow it.”
Roosevelt’s children struggle to accept that their father is ill, but when they do they help him recover, she added. Meanwhile, wife Eleanor becomes his speech writer and spreads his interests and ideas at events.
Throughout the play, Roosevelt remains hopeful and maintains his interests in politics, stamp collecting and dirigibles - which were the first aircrafts that could fly using an engine.
“He was determined not to be handicapped,” Popp said. “In fact, he was so determined to be independent he would slide off his chair and crawl up the stairs (instead of asking for help).”
The Fulda crew built a wheelchair similar to Roosevelt’s for the play. It’s made from a kitchen chair attached to bicycle wheels.
“The play took place almost 100 years ago,” Lindquist said. “We couldn’t use things that were too modern looking.”
“There’s a struggle of hope in the play, and that’s what we need today in 2016,” Lindquist added. “We need that same message.”
Tickets are being sold at Maynard’s Food Center and Ramerth Hardware in Fulda. They will also be available at the door.
Performances are at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the Fulda Elementary School’s gymnasium.
Lindquist and Popp have been involved in the theater’s plays for 30 years.
“We are gratified that so many people have helped,” Popp said, recounting that since 1987 over 300 people have helped the theater show its plays.
“For a small community, the support we have received is outstanding,” she added. “This is live entertainment, and is a full three-act play.”