The New World Stage will present the world premiere of Settling Sophia, a workshop production of a new play written by Cherryl Floyd-Miller and directed by Scott Pardue, Sept. 4-13 at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, NC. The show's all-star cast includes Lisa Cates, Mary Cates, Jeremy McCamic, Tracy Hoggard, Barbette Hunter, Torrey Lawrence, Allison Reeves, and Harvey Sage.
"New World Stage [first] came into contact with Cherryl Floyd-Miller's play Settling Sophia last fall when she sent it to our company for consideration in our PlayFactory," notes director Scott Pardue. "The thing that really drew me to her work was her poetic style and authentic perspective: She is a North Carolina native writing about North Carolina. This perspective is evident in her sophisticated understanding of Southern culture and her ability to articulate it with details that ring with truth."
Pardue says, "Settling Sophia is about a spirit looking forward into the life it will have if it decides to be born. Birth means a life as Chelsea Abshire Frazier (Mary Cates), a white woman who finds out that she is black. Growing up with a bigoted grandfather from the old South named Reverend Abshire (Harvey Sage), she finds out that her mother, Rita (Lisa Cates), had an illicit affair with a married black man, Lent Reynolds (Torrey Lawrence). With this new information about her conception, Chelsea suddenly realizes that she is an outsider — and always has been."
Technical director and lighting and sound designer Jon Harper and set designer Mickey Clayton will help director Scott Pardue polish this world-premiere production.
Pardue says, "The major challenge in directing Settling Sophia is the fact that it is a new play. With any new play, we have an opportunity to carve out its stage life, but we also discover when an idea works better on paper than in production. We are covering new territory and with that we are constantly making adjustments, stretching the play and the actors and sometimes adding a heap of nerves as we approach opening night."
He says, "The set consists of small versatile pieces that can be moved on and off the set quickly. Pieces are distorted in color and shape to indicate a dream." And Pardue adds, "The lighting is a mixture of natural light and blues to indicate a dream."
Director Scott Pardue says Settling Sophia will be staged "in an intimate thrust in front of the raised proscenium currently in the West End [Theatre]. New World Stage considers this a workshop production, meaning that the idea is give the audience and the playwright an idea of how the play may function in a production without a lot of overhead. Emphasis is placed on the script and the actors with as much attention paid to the technical elements as can be afforded."
The New World Stage presents Settling Sophia Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 4-6 and 11-13, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 7, at 3 p.m. in The ArtsCenter, 300-G. E. Main St., Carrboro, North Carolina. $10 ($8 students and military). 800/514-3849 or 919/929-2787. http://www.newworldstage.org/productions/playfactory/2003/settling_sophia/ss_poster.htm [inactive 4/04].