A local theater group soon will be staging a play as part of Black History Month — but it won’t be just any production.
“If we’ve ever done a play that is sure to get folks talking, this one’s probably going to do it,” according to playwright and director Vivian France, whose Journey Out of Egypt Productions is presenting “Run’n Scared” along with the J.J. Jones High School Alumni Inc.
The subject matter of “Run’n Scared” is both a historical account of race relations during the early 1900s as well as a look at the “hush-hush” subject of child molestation, France added.
“Run’n Scared,” the sixth-annual Black History Month play locally, will be presented from Feb. 22-24 at the J.J. Jones Alumni Auditorium on Jones School Road in Mount Airy. Show times are 7 p.m. for the first two days, which will be climaxed by a Sunday matinee at 4 p.m. on Feb. 24.
“We have already started rehearsals,” France said, which are being held on Sundays.
Armbrister Has Role
In addition to its subject matter, another unique aspect involves the multi-racial cast of the play, which includes Jim Armbrister, retired community services officer with the Mount Airy Police Department.
“We’re blessed to have him,” France said of Armbrister, who plays the lead juror of a trial conducted in “Run’n Scared.”
About 23 people are in the cast overall. “It is one of our largest ones,” France said.
The cast reflects racial diversity and has members from varying age groups and backgrounds. “And I’m just excited about that — it’s just a good mix of culture,” France said.
At last report, the director was still seeking to fill some cast slots. “I need a couple of white males,” France added, to take roles including that of a Quaker father.
Anyone interested in the remaining parts can contact Vivian France at 756-2903.
Play’s Dual Purpose
“My aim in doing this particular play is not only to reflect on history,” France explained regarding the usual “Black History Month” mission. It typically involves reminding older local residents and teaching the younger generation about “where we once were as a nation in our attitudes and thinking towards other races,” she said.
But in deciding to stage “Run’n Scared,” France also wanted to explore the issue of child abuse/molestation, given her professional capacity as a local school counselor.
She cited national statistics from January to June of 2012 showing that more than 145,000 alleged offenders were investigated for instances of child abuse. Of those, 43,482 were identified as a parent or stepparent of the victim, which is explored in the local play.
Its script depicts a time of “white supremacy” when blacks were made to feel inferior and easily accused of many wrongdoings. In the story, a crime has resulted in a lynch mob chasing an accused “Negro,” desiring to see him hanged.
However, the man has been wrongly accused of the crime that actually was perpetrated by a family member of the child.
“We as parents and caregivers need to pay attention to our children,” France added of her motivations for undertaking the upcoming production.
She further learned from research that there are 400,000 registered sex offenders in the United States, and estimates show that possibly as many as a fourth of them are missing.
“If we notice signs (particularly conversations/behaviors/attitudes/moods) that are bizarre or unusual, it could be a ‘red flag’ indicating that something is wrong,” France said.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.