Theater Emory spearheads the citywide Naomi Wallace Festival with an
Oct. 24Nov. 10 production of The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek,
a highlight of the 1998 Humana Festival of New American Plays.
A dozen local companies are joining forces to celebrate the work of the
emerging American playwright through mid-November, with additional full
productions of plays by Synchronicity Performance Group and PushPush Theater,
and fully produced solo pieces by Out of Hand, Rogue Planet and Actors
Also as part of the festival, Wallace and Theater Emory Artistic Producing
Director Vincent Murphy will hold an unscripted conversation about her
works at 8:15 p.m., Monday, Oct. 22 in the Jones Room of Woodruff Library.
The dialogue will be complemented by readings of Wallaces poetry
by Theatrical Outfits Tom Key, and readings from other Wallace works
by actors from some of the participating companies.
The film Lawn Dogs, for which Wallace wrote the screenplay, will
be shown at 4 p.m., Oct. 23 in 205 White Hall. The film was favorably
received on the festival circuit but has not been released in the United
States. Both events are free and open to the public. For more information,
History, politics and the resilience of the human spirit are common themes
throughout Wallaces work, and Trestle is no different. Through
stylized, sensual and lyrical dialogue, Wallace shows a dark side of the
American dream as 1930s teenagers Pace Creagin and Dalton Chance and their
parents struggle to change the hand that society has dealt them.
For all the characters, there is the theme of transformation,
Wallace said. They are trying to change who they are, in order to
survive, in order to maintain their humanity. This is about people refusing
to be defeated, about people resisting the chipping away of their spirits
Its important for audiences to remember the characters circumstances,
according to Murphy. These were people dealing with tough economic
times, she said. In a contemporary way, if we know a family
is going through a divorce, we assume its a sad situationbut
we dont let that situation define who they are. The people in Trestle
use the slings and arrows to climb higher. They arent being defeated
Emory student Rachel Garner plays Pace Creagin, the strong-willed, 17-year-old
girl who dares 15-year-old Dalton Chance to join her in playing chicken
with the 7:10 train. Chance is played by Oxford student Christopher DesRoches.
The cast is rounded out with noted actors Janice Akers as Daltons
mother, Gin; Tim McDonough as Daltons out-of-work father, Pace;
and Bart Hansard as Chas, the father of a boy killed by the train before
this story begins.
Set and costume design are by Leslie Taylor. Lighting and sound design
are by Judy Zanotti, and the composer is skit.dog, the pseudonym for an
Emory College professor.
So from all of Wallaces works, why pick The Trestle at Pope Lick
Creek? According to Murphy, he chose the play for its depth and theatricality.
There are so many places to go in this play as an audience person
and director, Murphy said. There are few plays that do that,
that allow you to make choices and go deeper. For example, the surprise
of this play is that it actually is a double love story. If you ask in
your life, What does love cost? Naomi gives you four or five
places you can take that. Its almost like the script is a living
organism. Secondly, I think Naomis great light is her ability to
show us what really matters.
Despite receiving a MacArthur Foundation genius grant in 1999,
Wallace is relatively unknown in the United States, yet has found acclaim
in Britain. A native of Kentucky, she now divides her time between her
home state and the English countryside. She has received several commissions
from the Royal Shakespeare Company, including the acclaimed Slaughter
City and her work-in-progress, The Inland Sea (previously titled
Fugitive Cant, part of Theater Emorys 2001 Brave New
I think Naomi Wallace is potentially the most important emerging
writer, who happens to also be from the South, yet no one knows who she
is, Murphy said. She is one of the very few writers in this
country who will even admit that class is an issue. Naomi has a magicians
sense of the theatrical; this defines her difference as a playwright.
Tickets for Trestle are $15 general admission, $7 for students.
Showtimes vary. For more information on Trestle or the Oct. 23
showing of Lawn Dogs, call 404-727-5050.