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Charm playwright Kathleen Cahill and director Tracy Callahan held a special Q-and-A session for a sold-out crowd on Thursday in the Weber State University Browning Center’s Eccles Theater.
Charm is based on the life of Margaret Fuller, a journalist in the 19th century who was the first female foreign correspondent. She was also chosen by Ralph Waldo Emerson to edit the publication The Dial.
“I kept reading about the ‘Margaret Fuller problem,’” Cahill said, “and that’s how I discovered Margaret Fuller. That is how she was referred to.”
Cahill said she had sympathy for Fuller.
“I feel so much pain for Margaret,” she said. “Fate was so unfair to her, and I just hope that if there’s a heaven, she’s looking down and thinking maybe, ‘I’m getting vindicated now.’”
Despite her feeling that Fuller had a tough life, Cahill said she still tried to keep the play lighthearted. The audience laughed from the first scene throughout most of the play.
“Magical” was the word audience members and the director used most to describe the play.
“This is the first university production, and we’re really excited about that,” Callahan said. “Kathleen writes a lot of the magic that she’d like to see in her play, and it’s very challenging to create what is in her head — and I mean just physically create it, because she has this sense of magic about her writing that is enchanting, but when you go to do it, it’s like, ‘How do I do that?’ But for us as a university program, it was extremely challenging on so many levels.”
After the play, cast members took seats in the audience for the opportunity to ask Cahill questions about the play they had just performed.
“The hardest thing about playing Margaret Fuller was that she’s a real person, and I wanted to make sure that I did her justice,” said cast member Shawnee Johnston.
Johnston said she did not know who Fuller was before getting the part.
“I did a lot of research,” she said.
Johnston said it was different to play the role of a historical figure.
“I feel like when you’re doing a fictional character, you can really make that character your own and do your own interpretation,” she said. “And while I felt like I could do that with Margaret, I felt more pressure just because she is real. There are people who are going to come to the show who know who she is and they know her work, and I didn’t want to mess it up, you know, but hopefully I did well.”
J.J. Freeman, a freshman at WSU, said his favorite part of the play was the relationship between Margaret and Henry, because he could relate to having such close friendships with people.
“It was really sad because, like most people said, Margaret was just ahead of her time,” he said.