A Lesson Before Dying
You can depend on it. A visit to the Rep is a always a wake up call. Challenging theatre awakens sleepy minds. Deep issues on stage arouse deep responses. Like the patron said, “The Repertory never disappoints me.” There are two major issues at stake in A Lesson Before Dying –– the fallibility in the death penalty and the honor with which we inevitabily face our fate.
In Romulus Linney’s powerful adaptation of Ernest J. Gaines prize-winning novel, a young man, Jefferson, is about to be executed for a murder he probably didn’t commit. At the trial his lawyer, trying to save his life, called him no more a human being than a hog. In prison, he acts like one, insisting he will be dragged like that hog to his death in the electric chair. His Godmother asks a schoolteacher to teach him to die like a man. The teacher faces both Jefferson and himself as execution day arrives. In 1948 Louisiana, the question is not whether or not young Jefferson will be executed, but how he will face his fate.
LtoR: Gabriel Johnson; Harold Hogan; Gabriel Johnson; Harold Hogan; Angela King*
Ernest J. Gaines’ celebrated novel makes an engrossing, moving and finally devastating play for the stage.
Romulus Linney is one of the premiere living playwrights in America today. The relationship between Romulus and the Detroit Repertory goes back some 28 years. In 1982 the Rep performed one of his early plays, Captivity of Pixie Shedman. A Lesson Before Dying is the fourth Romulus Linney play performed by the Repertory. The other two are Unchanging Love and Holy Ghosts. The latter one –– about a snake handling religious cult performed at the Rep in 1983 –– is still remembered by loyal Rep fans for the famous snake handling scene that frightened and captivated audiences.
*********LtoR: Harold Hogan; Barbara Jacobs–Smith; Doug McCray**********
Barbara Busby, one of the founders of the Rep, has directed all of Romulus’ plays at the Rep and is the director of A Lesson Before Dying. Last year she directed A Song For Coretta which won the DRT Subscriber Award for the best play on the season.
Her cast includes three newcomers, Gabriel Johnson as Jefferson, Peter Knox as Sheriff Guidry and Doug McCray as Rev. Ambrose. Four other cast members have appeared on the Rep stage at various times over the years. Hank Bennett is Paul; Harold Hogan is Grant; Angela King is Vivian; Barbara Jacobs-Smith is Miss Emma.
A Lesson Before Dying opens January 13th and runs every Thursday though Sunday until March 20, 2011. Saturday evening February 12, 2011 will feature the Repertory Board of Trustees Annual Red Night Fundraiser. Ticket prices for that event will be priced accordingly. All other tickets, fundraisers, Bargain Booklets, and Subscriptions will remain the most affordable for not-for-profit professional theatre in the Region. General admission is $17 per ticket in advance and $20 at the door. The Rep’s “Anytime, Multi-use” Gold Double Subscription for two is the unmatched price of $100 and a Silver Single Subscription stays at $50. 10-ticket Bargain Booklets, Regular and Matinee are $110 and $100 respectively and still make great mini-fundraisers.
For tickets, bookings and information call or visit the Rep Box office, 313•868•1347. Tickets can be purchased by phone using Visa or MasterCard.