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Perseverance opens world premiere of 'the road weeps, the well runs dry'

Posted: May 2, 2013 - 12:02am
Gary Waid, left, as Horsepower and Austin Tagaban as Wonderful rehearse for Perseverance Theatre's production and world premiere of "the road weeps, the well runs dry."  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Gary Waid, left, as Horsepower and Austin Tagaban as Wonderful rehearse for Perseverance Theatre's production and world premiere of "the road weeps, the well runs dry."

Perseverance Theatre will open the world premiere of Marcus Gardley’s play, “the road weeps, the well runs dry” Friday in Douglas. The play, which features a cast of Alaska Native and African American actors, weaves myth with history to tell the story of Black Seminole Freedman working to incorporate the first all-black town in the country, Wewoka, Okla.

Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the script.

“We came here

33 years ago from Florida swamps.

When fightin for freedom had taken its toll

And some had grown old of being an Indian chief’s slave.

Though it took us many years

We traveled the road called West

Where rocks chewed through our buckskin shoes

Through our meat and bone

Breakin our walk into limps, our dead stares into a trail of tears

Like the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee and Creek:

Fierce injuns blowin steam

We came here: 200 Free Black Seminoles up from 200 years on our knees

Drownin in the heat and burn of the desert stretch and sun

Walkin ‘pon our dead whose heads felt like soft mud under our feet.

We came here lost, weak, guilt-ridden for not dancing their souls to sleep.

Following the wind of my wife’s spirit who sang to me

She led us to this land, near the Barking Water creek

Where we made one promise: no longer would we weep

In honor of those we lost on the trail,

We taught our chillren to hold up their heads and not show grief

The last of our tears we left in a well.”

-- Excerpted from “the road weeps, the well runs dry” by Marcus Gardley

Gardley, a poet as well as a playwright, has a personal connection to the history represented in this story: his grandmother was born in Wewoka.

“I was thinking I was writing a history play about a forgotten people, only to realize I was actually writing my own history.” he said in a release.

Gardley is the US Artists James Baldwin Fellow for 2012, and the Ensemble Playwright for the Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago.

The director is Aaron Davidman, of California, who has worked with Gardley on two previous world premieres. The dramaturg is Nakissa Etemad.

Local actors in the play include Jake Waid, Shadow Meienberg, Austin Tagaban, Gary Waid, Erin Tripp. and Ibn Bailey. Out of town talent includes Charles Wallace, Jude Tibeau, Perri Gaffney, Evette Marie White, and Kenneth Ray.

The creative team also includes set design by Art Rotch, lighting design by Lauren MacKenzie Miller, sound design by Rory Stitt, and costume design by Rick Silaj.

“the road weeps, the well runs dry” is part of the LARK Play Development Center’s project “Launching New Plays into the Repetoire.” Juneau is one of four cities that will premiere the play, along with Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and Tampa, Fla.

Tickets are available through Hearthside Books, the JACC, online at perseverancetheatre.org or by calling 463-TIXS (8497). The play runs through May 26, with performances Thursdays through Sundays at 7:30 p.m. beginning May 3.

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