by Reginald Edmund
directed by Russ Tutterow
originally produced at Chicago Dramatists,
January 24, 2013
through March 3, 2013
A white woman has been brutally killed and an angry mob is at the jailhouse door demanding the sheriff lynch the accused murderer. The only way to untangle the truth is for the accused, a young black man called "Stranger," to relive the events that lead him to the hangman's tree in Athens, Ohio, in the year 1881. Inspired by a true story, Southbridge is both a spiritual journey and a murder mystery.
The play was a 2009 National Runner-Up for the Lorraine Hansberry and Rosa Parks Playwriting Award at the Kennedy Center, and the 2010 winner of the Southern Playwrights Competition. Southbridge is part of Edmund’s nine-play series titled The City of the Bayou Collection. Southbridge is sponsored in part by Chicago Public Radio (WBEZ).
Russ Tutterow, Artistic Director: We believe that Southbridge has strong potential to join the repertoire of frequently produced American plays because the play is fresh, authentic, poetic and relevant. Coupled with Chicago Dramatists’ core commitment to the playwright’s experience, the result will be the strongest possible world premiere script that therefore has the best chance of advancing.
Southbridge’s placement in Black History month is coincidental but not without benefit.
Given that a playwright unearthed a hidden historical fact that inspired the script, Chicago Dramatists is definitely interested in leveraging the opportunity offered by Black History Month to engage in a larger community discussion. Themes within the play engage communities interested in interracial issues, progressive causes, miscegenation, ageism, mysteries and history of the post-Civil War/early Victorian era. Mr. Edmund shares: “I wrote the play in the hope that people who may be quick to judge will learn to look at themselves and the world and realize we live in a very grey world, not black and white.”
Brian Loevner, Managing Director: The Edgerton Awards have had a great affect on the work I do over the last few years. As the Managing Director of Chicago Dramatists and the producer of our world premiere productions of The Kid Thing and Southbridge, both funded by Edgerton New Play Awards, the effect of the additional time afforded by the grant is especially important to my work.
On January 24, 2013, we experienced the first preview of Southbridge by Reginald Edmund. Reggie is a young playwright, new to Chicago, most recently from Houston via Minneapolis. He has had success along the way, but this is his Chicago debut. As you know, Chicago Dramatists was built just for this reason. To give opportunities to playwrights with powerful voices to be heard in one of the largest theatre markets in the world.
The preview that night was wonderful. Reggie's words were poetic. The production is built with care and attention. But more work was needed. After the first preview, we had 7 days until opening night. Each night would be a new exploration as the team reshapes and recalibrates the production. Those 7 days that remained are what the Edgerton provided. Those 7 days that remained were a gift to the playwright and production. The production, the play and the audience benefited from that time.
Director: Russ Tutterow
Set Design: Michael Mroch
Lighting Design: Jeff Pines
Sound Design: Joseph Fosco
Costume Design: Samantha C. Jones
Makeup Design: Izumi Inaba
Props Design: Amy Plant
Production Manager: Becky Mock
Stage Manager: Jenniffer J. Thusing
Assistant Stage Manager: Courtney Jackson
Original Music: Joseph Fosco
Cast: Manny Buckley, Gene Cordon, Ashley Elizabeth Honore, Wendy Robie, Lance Newton