Cast of folklife play marks end to 25th season in Brundidge

Published 9:32 pm Friday, April 11, 2014

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The tags on the cars parked across from the We Piddle Around Theater were from Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee. A Georgia tag was visible on the large bus that idled in front of the theater.
A man in overalls approached the bus driver and offered assistance in unloading his cargo of theatergoers. The line outside the theater stretched half way down the block.
That would be a rather unusual scene for a town with one traffic light and a population of 2,000. But not for Brundidge. Not when Alabama’s Official Folklife Play, “Come Home, It’s Suppertime” is on the marquee.
The curtain will come down tonight on the 25th season of Alabama’s Official Folklife Play, “Come Home, It’s Suppertime” and, the cast and crew will breathe a sigh of relief.
Not that anyone is superstitious or suffers from triskaidekaphobia but there’s just something about the number 13 that makes most folks a little uneasy.
Lawrence Bowden, president of the sponsoring Brundidge Historical Society, said the year 2014 is the 13th year for the town’s original folklife play and, well, 13 is “you know …”
But, the town’s original folklife play continues to be popular and is attracting people of all ages.
“‘Come Home,’ is set during the Great Depression and, for a long time, most of our audiences were those who had a connection to the Depression era,” Bowden said. “They had either lived through the Depression or had heard stories about those days from their parents. Now, we are having a lot of young adults and, recently, we’ve had a lot of older children. And, they all seem to have a good time hearing about and learning Hard Times in the rural South.”
Bowden said “Come Home, It’s Suppertime” is billed as a folklife play but it’s actually more of a storytelling than a play.
“None of us are actors,” said Bowen who is a charter member of the cast. “We just go on stage and tell stories. Our hope is that those who come feel like they have spent an evening just sitting around listening to folks tell stories.”
Storytelling is what the Brundidge Historical Society is all about. And storytelling is what brought people all the way from Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee to the small, South Alabama town Thursday night.
The eight of them attended the BHS’s Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival in January.
“We love storytelling,” said Joyce Coats of Tennessee. “We’ve been going to Jonesborough, Tennessee to the National Storytelling Festival. But we read about the Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival and the incredible lineup of storytellers that was coming. We decided to come and see what it was all about. And, it was absolutely wonderful.”
Lois Shaver, also of Tennessee, said not just wonderful, “fabulous.”
“At the storytelling festival, we picked up a brochure about Alabama’s Official Folklife Play,” she said. “We thought if the storytelling festival was this great, what would the play be like. So, we came to see and we were not disappointed. We’ve had a great time. The theater with sawdust on the floor, the food, the music, the stories. It was all incredible.”
Jimmy Mason and his wife, Demetra, made the seven and a half hour journey from Mississippi to come home at suppertime.
“I don’t know how to say what a great time we’ve had,” Jimmy Mason said. “The play was worth every mile of the trip.”
Demetra Mason said people of all ages are looking for good, clean entertainment and she believes that folklife events are answering the call.
“We’re all looking for something real and this is real,” she said. Bowden said the views of those who travel far in search of what’s real and genuine is encouraging to the BHS and the cast and crew of “Come Home, It’s Suppertime.”
“A lot of hard work has gone into the theater and our original folklife play,” he said. “We hope that those who share these nights with us leave believing that all the piddlin’ has been worthwhile.”

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