Play on ‘hold’ at Kennedy Center

Published 7:27 pm Monday, February 16, 2009

Adena Moree was told, “Hold your set” and those were encouraging words for the Troy University director of theater.

The Troy University Theater’s production of “A Lesson Before Dying” was one of six performances showcased at the 2009 Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Region IV on Feb. 3-8 at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Three of the competing plays from across the country will be invited to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. in April.

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“There are nine regions, and there will be three more weeks of regional festivals after ours,” Moree said. “A decision will not be made until the first of March as to the three that will be invited to Washington. Odds are that it may not be us, but then it could be.”

However Moree said being told to “Hold your set” meant that the odds could be on the side of Troy University’s production.

“Ordinarily, when we got back to Troy, the set would be dismantled and what could not be used again would be thrown away,” she said. “But we were asked to keep our props together. So, we’re holding our set and hoping. But just to be in the mix is quite wonderful.”

The play by Romulus Linney is based on the novel, “A Lesson Before Dying,” by Ernest Gaines. The story centers around a young black man who was wrongfully condemned to death in backwoods Louisiana in 1948. His godmother asked a favored schoolteacher to teach him how to die.

Moree said Troy University would have been very proud of the students who performed at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

“During the performance, you could have heard a pin drop in the theater,” she said. “In a room of about a thousand people nobody said a word. It was an incredible performance and one that really stuck a chord. I was so very proud of the students. Of course, I was a nervous wreck but they were wonderful.”

Moree expressed appreciation to the university administration for its strong support of theater.

“The administration has been very generous in its support and, in return, I’m sure they are expecting us to perform at a high level,” she said. “The entire university would have been proud of the way these students performed at this regional competition.”