Saturday, October 10, 2015

Faulkner: "The Other Side of the Bridge"

The Faulkner University Dinner Theatre is hosting the premiere of an original play entitled The Other Side of the Bridge by director and Faculty member Angela Dickson -- the bridge being the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, the events taking place in 1965, and the "other side" being both literal as well as a story that is not part of the common history of the Civil Rights Era.

As a tribute to her father who served as a National Guardsman whose job was to protect the marchers after they had crossed the bridge on their way to Montgomery, Ms. Dickson envisions a Christian white family who, like many others at that time, tried to keep their lives as normal as possible during a turbulent time. From the perspective of the play's narrator [Brittney Johnston] who is the grown up version of one of the children, most of the adults in her play, for better or for worse, "loved us enough to lie to us, or not tell us the whole truth". -- Some subjects were for adults only, and Ms. Dickson's characters -- the father John [Matt Dickson], the mother Millie [Jesse Alston], Trip [George Scrushy and Andi [Mattie Earls] -- debate their allegiances to family and country, and are concerned with the safety of their families; but they do not talk with their children about the racial issues virtually on their doorstep.

On a stormy day, while celebrating their son Dusty's [Kieran Cross] birthday with cake and gifts, John invites a stranded African American threesome to both shelter in their home and join the simple festivities. While Michael [Colby Smith], Jennie [Jocelyn Jointer] and Sarah [Theresa Jett] humbly accept John's hospitality, Uncle Ned [Hunter Lee Smith] objects, saying that his brother is ignoring family in favor of strangers who he despises for the color of their skin.

But John sticks to his principles against Ned's prejudice and emerges heroic in the view of his grown up daughter, the Narrator, who only in retrospect can deal with the public and private events of 1965, since the family had never talked about them,

To add a further moral emphasis to her play, Ms. Dickson has two preachers -- one white [Chris Kelly], one black [Tony Davidson], who serve in neighboring churches and are good friends -- serve as a kind of Chorus, who profess the need for love and compassion in all our lives and at all times in our lives, to give them a solid foundation.

There are plenty of lessons to be learned here, ones that resonate over time and continue to impact our lives. lessons about loyalty and duty to family and country, lessons about equality and diversity, lessons about love.