'Tongue of a Bird' Spreads Its Wings

Reported by Mollisande Williams

Photographed by Satoshi Seth

When time came for Student Director Audrey O’Farrell to select George Fox University’s (GFU) winter play, she had no doubt “Tongue of a Bird” was going to be her story. The meaning, the strength of the all-women cast, the address of mental health and suicide—the message needed to
be heard.

The story focuses on five characters. Maxine is a search pilot who battles the loss of her mother Evie. 

Dessa, a mother in search of her missing daughter Charlotte, seeks Maxine’s help. Maxine’s grandmother Zofia offers her grand-daughter advice throughout her struggles.

With such a small and simplistic cast, the audience is given the ability to easily focus on multiple stories. The intertwining of these stories between all of the characters adds depth throughout the play. 

However, O’Farrell utilizes distinctive scene changes to keep these stories separate. This helps maintain organization and prevents the storyline from becoming confused.

The story itself deals with child abduction, mental health, and suicide—some heavy topics. Ultimately the storyline centers around five women who solve their own problems. These actresses all give powerful, compelling performances that stick with the audience even after leaving the auditorium.

Sitting down with the director and the cast revealed all involved feel strong and passionate about this story. 

O’Farrell believes this play shows “it’s OK to fight for yourself and with yourself ”—allowing and welcoming the feelings of sadness, but remembering there is hope and life beyond those feelings.

Senior Sarah Aldrich (Maxine) says, “I know this campus has had to deal with this kind of tragedy in the recent past and I think this can be a healing moment.”

Freshman Lauren Herman (Charlotte) expresses that “while [the story] is incredibly sad, there’s also this glimmer of hope as people let go, and there is that bit of healing that people need to understand and to be able to identify.” 

When asked how this play differs from others the cast has performed, junior JeanneAnn Faris (Dessa) believes “something this play does that is really heavy and hard and important is that it doesn’t shy away from anything these characters are experiencing.” This performance lays it all out there, which can be uncomfortable at times.

Rawness might just be what people need to in order to start important conversations. Still, students should ask themselves if they are in an okay place to be exposed to these potentially triggering topics. 


If the answer is yes, this play can be very beneficial. Junior Hannah Straun (Evie) mentions that “even if you haven’t experienced these mental health issues yourself, whether you know it or not you probably know someone who has or who is.” 

“Tongue of a Bird” has the ability to heal, move, and spark conversation. Sophomore Hope Bellinger (Zophia) hopes by putting on this performance the cast can “reach out to those individuals who are experiencing these issues and give them a gentle reminder that they aren’t alone.” Students, faculty, and the community are encouraged to participate by attending, listening, and reflecting.

Performances are Jan. 25-27 and Feb. 1-3 at 7:30 p.m. as well as a matinee on Feb. 4 at 2 p.m., in the Wood-Mar Auditorium. Tickets are $12 for general admission, $6 for students and children under 12, and $8 senior and GFU alumni. Purchase tickets on campus in the Bruin Store or online.