“What Are You Afraid Of?” was the question of the evening, as well as the title of the show that actress/storyteller Mara Wilson brought to Haverford last week. The popular event, hosted by students, with support from the Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities, drew students, faculty, and community members to a packed Stokes Auditorium on Thursday night.
Wilson, known for her starring roles in such movies as Matilda, Mrs. Doubtfire, and the remake of Miracle on 34th Street, now works as a playwright, comedian, writer/blogger, and storytelling performer based in New York City. Her show, which featured local Philadelphia comedians Hillary Rea and R. Eric Thomas, focused on phobias, using storytelling as a comedic tool to process fears and connect with others.
Stories ranged from humorous takes on serious cultural issues like racism, loneliness, and stalkers (Rea’s story) to personal relationship anecdotes featuring the Christmas figure Krampus (Thomas). Wilson, who considers herself an easily scared person, bookended the two guest performances by sharing two stories of her own, centering around her irrational fear of ingesting eye drops, and a family anxiety that once led her to literally eat her own t-shirt.
After the hilarious performances from all three artists, Wilson welcomed questions from the audience about the show, her life, her writing, and her connection to show business.
Wilson also has a special connection to Haverford: her older brother, Jonathan Wilson, is a professor of Biology and Environmental Sciences at the College. During the Q&A, she also shared a few childhood stories of herself and her brother.