“To Know You” celebrates Maryville College benefactor Susan Wiley Walker

The recent production of “To Know You” shined a closer light on the life and legacy of Maryville College benefactor, Susan Wiley Walker. This production informed its audience about Walker while entertaining them. Throughout her years, Walker donated money and built several different popular locations on our campus, including the R.T. Lodge.

In summary of the show, there is a modern day archivist unsuccessfully looking for information on Walker. When the archivist does find Walker’s old notebook documenting every time she spent money, the ghost of Walker comes out to explain herself. As the show carries on, the audience sees all her memories of important people that Walker helped or worked with. 

To start the play, there was a presentation of pictures and videos with slow music from Walker’s time. The pictures and videos were of Walker and what the campus looked like during her time. During the show, a PowerPoint with more photos was advanced every time a new story was being told. These pictures included many places and people, some of whom made an appearance in the show. 

The set was decorated simply with original dolls that were gifted from Walker to Peggy and Janet Cummings. During the show, these dolls were referenced and copies of them were even used within one of Walkers memories. The stage was also decorated with a lovely painting by Carl Gombert that was referenced to as one of Walker’s paintings of Morningside (former name R.T. Lodge). 

Poster for “To Know You,” designed by Lauren McCarter

The costumes worn throughout the show enforced the time frame of Walker’s memories. For her costume, Walker wore an all white skirt and blouse with a white cover up. Meanwhile, the archivist wore modern, simple jeans and a t-shirt. 

Props throughout the show were used to set the time and place of each of Walker’s memories. Within the memory of Peggy Cummings, she carried music books that she set up on the table for when she mimed playing a piano. Each prop set the tone and intentions of its character—just like when several boys came out with tools to build a tree house in the college woods.

The overall message of “To Know You” seems to be about gratitude. This bicentennial play was an excellent reminder that the Maryville College community should always be thankful of our donors big and small.

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