Good Friday holds a special place in my calendar of remembrances. It was Good Friday 1983 when we first saw the inside of the Roxy Theatre. And looking at it now, with its red velvet seats (thanks to the generosity of the late Dorothy Gertrude Ross), I cannot but remember that blind optimistic dream which came to fruition, thanks to so many. And now another dream — a new center for arts and education — will, too, come about due to the generosity of many more.
Two weeks ago, schools sent students to witness in person the story of “two households, both alike in dignity,” Romeo & Juliet. Some were special needs children, and some were mixed in with some far above average sixth graders. An educator was miffed that the high schoolers weren’t as attentive as her sixth graders.
I excused the high school class, then explained to the sixth graders how proud I was of them; and how they are mirrors of their upbringing, as are all who are fortunate enough to have parents who support field trips to our curriculum-based productions, teachers who willingly take on the task of organizing, and principals who know the vital importance of such an outing. We in this community are fortunate to have such educators for our children.
All children are special; but our coterie of Roxy kids are unique (moms and dads notwithstanding), performing Shakespeare, dancing like Indians, swimming like mermaids, flying over the stage with the aid of fairy dust, and workshopping scripts like this season’s Heidi and next season’s Tales of Hans Christian Andersen.
On a sunny afternoon last summer, Christian Boyd, Addisyn Bryant, Samantha Grimes and Hollie Morse sat around on that green space on the other side of F&M Bank with Civil War Stories scripts in hand, reading, making notes and giving suggestions. The group was spearheaded by Della Coleman, who took notes on additions, cuts and alterations, only to bring them back as a further developed script, much like her sister Elizabeth (now a student at Vanderbilt) had done in the past.
This latest script has been in rehearsal for two weeks with four professional actors — Leslie Greene, J. Robert Lindsey, Colin Ryan and Michael Spaziani — who have brought their own expertise and talents to the fore to help make this production a success. Colin Ryan has written songs to further the text; and since we are in possession of some of the best Civil War attire around, this production of three stories by Ambrose Bierce will be another feather in our Sesquicentennial cap.
The stories include “Chickamauga,” “Killed at Resaca” and “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” which was once a Twilight Zone episode. These are not your Stephen Crane, Red Badge of Courage Civil War stories; these are dark and vivid, not unlike All Quiet on the Western Front in their depiction of war.
Civil War Stories plays tonight at 8pm for pay-what-you-can and at 8pm tomorrow.
See you at the theatre!