Margie Benson to direct Brundidge folklife play

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 3, 2002

Features Editor

A seed that was planted almost 10 years ago will bear fruit this spring in Brundidge with the community theater production of "Come Home, It’s Suppertime."

The play has been adapted from a collection of stories from local folks and is set in and around the the time of the Great Depression when nearly everyone was on a level playing field.

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Almost everyone was poor but nobody noticed because they were all in the same boat. People worked together and clung together in a way not seen before or since. It was, perhaps, "the best of times and the worst of times."

The play will be performed in the historic old city hall building which is in the process of renovation. The building was constructed in 1940 as part of the WPA (Works Progress Administration) program .

Those who participated in the program dubbed it "We Piddle Around."

In keeping with the time period and historical significance of the building, but also the whimsical nature of the folklife plays that will be presented there twice a year, the theater will be named "The We Piddle Around Theater."

Margie Benson, who is widely known for her outstanding productions in Ozark and with Looney’s Amphitheater productions at Double Springs, will direct the play. She will be assisted by Tori Lee of Brundidge who will be director of music and choreographer.

Benson was the advanced art instructor and director of Carroll High School Musicals from 1982 until 1999 when she became executive director of Looney’s Amphitheater and Park. She is presently the annual fund director at Huntingdon College and a member of the Alabama Council on the Arts and Humanities. She is the recipient of many awards for theater, art and community service.

"Since going to Huntingdon, I have missed being involved in theater," Benson said. " I heard about the upcoming folklife play in Brundidge through friends and, when I saw the material for the play, I immediately wanted to be a part of it."

Benson said "Come Home, It’s Suppertime" has all of the elements that make theater productions successful.

"The stories are absolutely wonderful," she said. "Although the time period is around the Depression, there is so much humor in the stories that we see the people as they were – "making do" with what they had while maintaining the spirit that has made America great."

Benson said because the stories are about people and places in and around Brundidge, it will have special meaning for area residents.

"But, the stories are regional," she said. "They depict life as it was throughout the South and the play will appeal to everyone. As I read the stories, I would get tickled and laugh out loud. The audience will respond the same way. I am so excited to be a part of this community theater movement in Brundidge."

"Come Home, It’s Suppertime" will be a unique theater experience in that the audience will be an extension of the stage.

"The atmosphere of the setting will add interest to the play and make it a lot of fun for the actors and the audience," Benson said. "Much of the play will take place around the supper table and the audience will also be at the supper table. This will be a supper theater performance."

The scheduled dates for "Come Home, It’s Suppertime" are April 5 and 6 and 12 and 13 to comply with the terms of the grant to the Brundidge Historical Society by the Alabama Council on the Arts and Humanities

Auditions are set for 6:30 until 8 p.m. Monday Feb. 11 and 2 until 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16 at the Brundidge United Methodist Church McEachern Building.

"There is nothing like a play of this kind to bring a community together because it involves all ages and those with different talents and interests," Benson said. "We will have people involved in this production who aren’t interested in being on stage as actors. We’ll have musicians and carpenters. We will have lighting and sound technicians. We’ll have those who are in charge of costumes and sets. There will be people working with ticket sales, promotions and the budget. Whatever your interest, we have a place for you at the suppertable."

Benson said she encourages anyone who is interested in being a part of this community theater production to make plans to attend one of the auditions.

For more information call 735-2544, 735-3608 or 735-3675.