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Final Summer Stock show ushers in a change of pace at the Averitt

'night, Mother to open in Whitaker Black Box Theater


July 26, 2016

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    It’s eight o’clock on Saturday night in rural America. The interior of the house looks like any other stereotypical home, a wooden space complete with an antenna TV, wicker baskets and mismatched furniture. The home is comfortable and plain — and also the place of a woman’s upcoming suicide.
    Written by Marsha Norman, ‘night, Mother takes place during what would be another normal, boring night in the lives of mother-daughter duo Thelma “Mama” Cates and Jessie Cates — that is, until troubled daughter Jessie reveals to Thelma that she plans to commit suicide before the night is over.
    “It’s a play that I have known for a long time and have wanted to do because it is such a challenge for me. After I knew about the play, but before I actually saw the play performed or read it, I watched the movie,” Susan Jackson, the Averitt STAR actress who plays Thelma, said, referring to the 1986 film adaptation. “When I saw the movie, I realized that this is the play I’ve been wanting to do. I literally fell in love with it and I ordered the script, so I’ve had this script for a long time just because I have been waiting for someone to do it.”
    That “someone” is director Eddie Frazier, who will bring the production to the Averitt Center come August with the help of co-director Ashley Wade, a Statesboro High School senior, Summer Stock intern and stage manager Kelsey Waller and stage technician Olivia Carter. 
    “It does have ... a little bit of dark humor every now and then, but the audience will catch themselves chuckling. If the performers are doing their jobs right, which they always do, the audience will catch themselves laughing. Then they’ll catch themselves like, ‘Should I be laughing at this?’ ” Frazier said. 
    As the night unravels, Thelma “Mama” Cates attempts to convince her daughter not to end her own life while Jessie, played by another Averitt STAR Nora Franklin, makes herself ready to depart this world by finishing up her final to-do list.
    “I think there are things in (the play) that are very relatable just in life. If you’ve lived any kind of life or been through anything in your life, there are parts of it that you could say ‘Yeah, I’ve felt like that before’ and you have things to draw from," Franklin said. “I have never sat there and said I wanted to commit suicide, but you’ve been to points of desperation in your life that you can pull from to say, 'Yeah it makes sense how someone could feel this alone or this sad.' And you can empathize with that.” 
    Bringing ‘night, Mother to the Averitt is a change of pace from what audiences might be used to seeing, but the cast and crew are optimistic that the audience will enjoy the performance. 
    “We don’t want people going away saying, ‘Well, if life is not going the way you want it, let’s go put a bullet in your head,' " Frazier said. "... The characters are really complex. There’s a lot to Thelma and there’s alot to Jessie ...  (the audience) shouldn’t think poorly of Mama and they couldn’t think poorly of Jessie. I don’t think they should dislike either of them. I don’t think they should say ‘Jessie shouldn’t have done that.’ I want them to go home and think about why she did it or why she would want to do it,” Frazier said.
    ‘night, Mother will play at the Whitaker Black Box Theatre from August 4–6 and shows will begin at 7:30 p.m. Due to the content, it is advised that only adults attend.


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