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A small Kansas town in the 1950s is the setting for William Inge’s bittersweet melodrama Picnic, which explores themes of sexuality, repression, rites of passage, and disappointment.
On a sweltering Labor Day morning, the women of a quiet neighborhood on the wrong side of the tracks are preparing for the annual picnic. Watchful mother Flo Owens has hopes that her beautiful daughter Madge will get a proposal from Alan, the local millionaire’s son. Younger sister Millie, the “smart one”, yearns to grow up and leave her small town behind. Good-natured Mrs. Potts is happy to get a break from taking care of her aged mother. And spinster schoolteacher Rosemary Sydney cheerfully keeps her boyfriend Howard at arms’ length. This seemingly placid feminine environment is disrupted when Hal Carter, a muscular and charming young drifter who happens to be a former fraternity brother of Alan’s, hops off the freight train, and straight into Mrs. Potts’ hospitable home. Hearts are broken and lives are changed in the following twenty-four hours, as Hal’s lively, dangerous, masculine energy wakes up the sleepy community.