CLARKSTON, Ga.—A giant hole in the stage — and an African American gravedigger who bears a striking resemblance to Abraham Lincoln — play integral roles in the Theatre Arts Guild production of “The America Play,” by Suzan-Lori Parks.
The play opens at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, in the Cole Auditorium at Georgia State University’s Perimeter College. It will be presented on Georgia State’s Clarkston Campus Feb. 7-10 and 14-17.
Performed in a 100-seat black box setting on the main stage, “The America Play” works on the notion of a metaphorical “great hole of history,” by having the actors dig a hole in the middle of the stage, said Georgia State theatre instructor Stacy Wilson, the play’s director.
While the actors “dig” for things in the play, they also are digging for their own stories, Wilson said.
The play is set during the Civil War after the Emancipation Proclamation and through about 30 years of the Victorian era.
“It parallels the hole in black history and culture and … how that affects those individuals,” she said.
The protagonist, performed by Perimeter College alumnus Jeremiah Davison, calls himself the “Foundling Father,” a riff on the “founding father” Lincoln. He abandons his own individuality, creating a circus act of impersonating Lincoln’s own life and death — even recreating a fake assassination, charging a penny for this act.
“Suzan-Lori Parks plays with this digging as both actual and mental digging for history and story,” said Wilson. “What I hope the audience takes away from this play is how much life is affected by history — or lack thereof — and that the removal of history can have a haunting effect.”
The Theatre Arts Guild presents, “The America Play” at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 7-9 and Feb. 14-16, and 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 10 and 17, in the Cole Auditorium, Fine Arts Building, 3735 Memorial College Drive, Clarkston. Tickets are $15, $10 for seniors 55 and older, Perimeter students are free with ID. For reservations, call 678-891-3572 or order at [email protected]su.edu