Troy University Theatre production showcased by Kennedy Center

Posted: Tuesday, 10 February 2009

TROY -- Troy University Theatre’s production of “A Lesson Before Dying” by Romulus Linney has been honored by the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival as one of six performances from the southeast showcased at its regional festival in Greensboro, N.C.

The play is based on the novel “A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest Gaines, is the subject of the University’s Common Reading Initiative, and the story centers around a young black man who is wrongfully condemned to death in backwoods Louisiana in 1948. His godmother asks a schoolteacher to teach him to die like a man.

The festival recognizes, encourages, and celebrates the finest and most diverse work produced in university and theater programs, according to Adena Moree, director of theatre. It is the sixth time Moree has been invited to show her work at the festival since 1998. This year’s festival was conducted Feb. 3-8.

The show was selected from a nine state area in which all participating university and college plays were viewed by KCACTF respondents.

“For the Theatre Department to be able to participate in the overall mission of the University and to have such a compelling story translated to the stage was so meaningful for all of us who worked on the show,” Moree said.

Bethanie Wampol, a senior communication arts –drama and art major from Birmingham who designed the show’s set, said she enjoyed every aspect of the process.

“I researched the period and the types of buildings and discovered that the buildings whether it was a church or a home, were all built the same,” said Wampol.

Wampol said she used that as a metaphor in her partially destructed set to illustrate that “people are all the same, just the facades are different.”

Dean Muhammad, a senior theater major from Anniston who played the role of “Grant Wiggins,” said his character is challenged to teach “Jefferson,” a former student, how to die like a man.

“It’s a poignant piece that speaks to all Americans about humility and the importance of forgiveness,” Muhammad said. “The play also makes a strong statement about the death penalty and social injustices.”

Laylah Amatullah Barrayn

Troy University Theatre’s production of “A Lesson Before Dying” was honored as one of six productions in the southeastern United States to be presented at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Greensboro, N.C. (TROY photo/Kevin Glackmeyer)