THE SUMTER ITEM
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2014
Excellent cast, direction in ‘The Old Settler’ BY JANE G. COLLINS Special to The Item
If you are looking for a great Valentine’s Day present, consider getting tickets for the current Sumter Little Theatre production of The Old Settler. Without seeming too effusive, let’s just say that the production is better than just good. In spite of the program’s credit to John Henry Blackwood as the writer when in actuality it is the work of John Henry Redwood, the performance opening night had few faults. The few early moments of uncomfortable timing faded with meeting the two main characters — elder sister Elizabeth “Bess” Borny and her younger and caustic sister, Quilly McGrath. The evening’s success stems from an exceptionally wellwritten play, the excellent cast and Eric Bultman’s sensitive direction. Set in 1943 Harlem, Redwood’s play explores the importance of family relationships and the effects of an ev-
er-changing society as blacks move from the strong emphasis of the Harlem Renaissance through multiple tiers of migration from the South to the North and man’s desire to find happiness. One critic described the tension as a shared “wounded history” as the story evolves. The dialogue is full of humor, keen insight into sibling rivalry and its place in family unity, poignancy and emotional struggles. Redwood’s own philosophy resonates throughout the play: “I shall pass this way only once, therefore, whatever good I can do, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again.” His insight into human behavior allows the playgoer to understand the trauma of finding purpose and dignity, of holding closely to the bonds of family and of celebrating forgiveness. Carletha Addison (Elizabeth) and LaShonda McElveen (Quilly) clearly un-
derstand their characters. They achieve a believable sense of sisterly tension over a series of conflicts that become even more evident in the second half of the play. Addison develops Elizabeth as sensitive, moving from a calm, quietly confident individual to the giddy, hopefully anticipating soul responding to Husband’s attention and plans. Her reminiscence of her pilgrimage to church and her solo/duet with Husband display Addison’s singing voice and clear perception of Elizabeth and her loneliness. McElveen is outstanding as Quilly, often speaking out (almost as the voice of the playwright) about injustices, pyrrhic successes of people such as Paul Robeson (the wonderful singer of “Old Man River” and Civil Rights activist) and Elizabeth’s misdirected infatuation for Husband. McElveen delivers deliciously glaring looks to Elizabeth and Husband, accentuating her displeasure with a straightening of the back and impeccably timed ironic observations.
Hugh China portrays Husband Witherspoon, the young man who comes from South Carolina in search of his former love, Lou Bessie, after his mother dies, with a sustained sense of hesitant insecurity. He uses his hat effectively to emphasize his frustrations and confused personality. Tiffany Holmes brings an amusing and honest dimension to Lou Bessie Preston. Confidently, she knocks on the door, sashays into the lives of Elizabeth and Quilly, and, with her slinky dresses and hats, castigates the two older women with a vocabulary honed, possibly, from the military men she dates at the Savoy and Small’s Paradise. She has changed her name to Charmaine, developed a new persona and has no intention of returning to South Carolina. She even plans to change Husband’s name — to Andre — and open a beauty and barber shop using Husband’s inheritance. She is a woman with great ambition, strongly confident in her sexual abili-
ty to dominate Husband and put Elizabeth snidely “in her place” as an “old, old, settler.” Bultman’s direction reveals the intensity of his commitment to the themes and outlooks of the play. Each character moves with a seemingly effortless measure of believability. The final scene with Elizabeth and Quilly is heart rending but celebratory. Special kudos go to costumers Marge Cowles and Sylvia Pickell for interpreting Husband’s character and “Charmaine’s” influence in the second half. That costume alone is worth the price of admission. The Old Settler, directed by Eric Bultman, is presented at the Sumter Little Theatre, 14 Mood Ave., in the Sumter Cultural Center, today and Sunday and Feb. 13 through 16. The show begins nightly at 8 p.m., except for Sundays, when it starts at 3 p.m. Ticket prices are $15 for adults and $12 for the student/senior/ military rate. Call (803) 7752150 for more information.
Artist’s prints loaned to schools
Isaac McClinton, principal of Crestwood High School, stands in front of the exhibit of prints from Jacob Lawrence’s series of panels based on scenes from The Great Migration. Fifteen images of the panels Lawrence made were loaned to the school for display.
Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration Series (1940-41) Panel no. 57 is titled “The female workers were the last to arrive North.” When Sumter County was selected for a $75,000 Picturing America School Collaboration Project Grant from The National Endowment for the Humanities in 2010, its major component was The Great Migration as illustrated by the artist Jacob Lawrence in a series of 60 panels begun in 1940. The period of the Great Migration covers the time from about 1916 to 1930 but is extended into the 1970s by some historians. During these years, millions of blacks in the South moved North to escape racism and social and financial restraints. The Phillips Collection in Washington, LAWRENCE D.C., granted the Sumter County Cultural Commission permission to enlarge and display images of the panels. Thirty enlargements remain with the commission, which this week loaned 15 images each to Lakewood and Crestwood high schools, “joining other efforts to celebrate African American History Month,” Executive Director Carmela Bryan said.
POLICE BLOTTER CHARGES
Derrick Lee Daye, 26, of 401 E. 1st St., Erwin, N.C., was charged as a fugitive from justice at 1:48 p.m. Wednesday. According to the report, an officer observed a white Chevrolet Malibu speeding in the southbound lane of I-95. The officer attempted to initiate a traffic stop, but the vehicle continued speeding as it exited the highway onto U.S. 378. The driver, Daye, eventually lost control of the vehicle, driving into a ditch. Daye reportedly left the vehicle and fled into the woods, where a K-9 unit located him hiding in a ditch. Daye continued to resist arrest and was Tased by officers before being arrested without further incident. The passenger in the vehicle confirmed that Daye had several outstanding warrants out of North Carolina and had been on the run for a while. Police searched the vehicle to find one gram of suspected marijuana, a .45-caliber Rock Island Arms pistol with a full magazine and $1,163 in cash.
A beige 1997 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme valued at $3,000 was reportedly stolen from the 1000 block of Broad Street between 11:50 a.m. and 12:03 p.m. Wednesday. A Cobalt drill, impact drill, battery charger and a Sawzall were reported stolen at 12:22 p.m. Wednesday from the 3000 block of Broad Street. The estimated value of the stolen items is $700.
Smith & Wesson clip and a black charcoal grill were reported stolen at 8:39 p.m. Wednesday from a residence in the 2000 block of Tindal Road. The estimated value of the stolen items is $3,600. Three tires and rims from a red 2002 Chevrolet Impala and a pink girl’s bicycle were reportedly stolen from a residence in the 100 block of Boulevard Road between 8 a.m. Feb. 1 and 8 a.m. Thursday. The estimated value
of the stolen items is $675. A black Frigidaire stove and refrigerator were reportedly stolen from a residence in the 30 block of Center Street between 10 a.m. Oct. 10 and 1:55 p.m. Thursday. The estimated value of the stolen items is $1,800. An air-conditioning unit valued at $2,500 was reportedly stolen from a residence in the 10 block of Henrietta Street between 4 p.m. Jan. 15 and 4 p.m. Thursday.
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