A breathless “whew!” pretty much sums up Fanni Green’s reaction to the whirlwind of activity that has kept her on the run in the months leading up to April’s production of the road weeps, the well runs dry at the University of South Florida. “The fall for me, was a-poppin’ with people, excitement, questions and budget outlining,” she says with a bemused laugh. Professor Green has been busy building the community engagement component of the play as well as casting the production.
Dramaturg Nakissa Etemad and the Lark Play Development Center’s Community Engagement Consultant Donna Walker-Kuhne visited USF’s Tampa campus in November for meetings and auditions and attended luncheons with the production’s community partners.
“They brainstormed with one another about collaborating on projects to support the play and the upcoming production,” Green explained. “We’re very happy to be getting so much support.”
On hand were four faculty members – Anthropology Associate Professor Dr. Antoinette Jackson, Department of Africana Studies Chair Dr. Cheryl Rodriguez, Professor of English Dr. Gary Lemons and Department of Dance Instructor Katurah Robinson – who are collaborating to organize pre-show discussions that will be held before select performances. Everyone has something to contribute – and learn.
WMNF and community arts organization The Studio@620 are presenting a live radio recording of the play on Feb. 25 in St. Petersburg, FL at 7 p.m. “As a Community Partner, WMNF’s radio theatre producers are drawn to the vivid soundscape and poetry of the road weeps… project.
Faculty members will move beyond the university as well. They will facilitate a community engagement event they have titled, “Play Walk-Play-Talk,” where excerpts of the play will be read and discussed at Bay area museums and adult centers during late February and March.
“The auditions amazed me,” Green said. “The first day 12 students had signed up but over 25 students from across the campus showed up. The enthusiasm for the play swelled as the students read it. This play grabs people every single time they hear it or read it! The auditions yielded a wonderfully talented ensemble that is not yet complete, but well on the way to being so.”
Student actor and singer Paul Pullen has been cast to play the roles of Goodbird, Wonderful, Young Trowbridge and an Echo. Before this he has only been seen twice on theater stages. Most recently, he played Mi-Jean in the USF School of Theatre and Dance‘s production of “Ti-Jean and His Brothers.”
“I’m excited to experience this dynamic contrast of four characters for the first time and at the same time battle with the rigors of costume changes behind the scenes,” he said. “I am pulled towards this play by the demands it places on one actor to relate to other characters through different perspectives. It will be exciting to hear how the audience’s responses change between these characters.”