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  • Writer's pictureWillow

Reflecting on PARADE

Updated: Sep 2, 2020

In late October I played a long-standing dream role of mine, Lucille Frank in PARADE. It was easily the most intense and challenging learning experience of my entire life. To tell this gut-wrenching story under the direction of my teacher and mentor Dr. Carolyn Coulson was incredible, and I found myself rooting my character time and time again in the strength of all the powerful women in my life. I am still just so grateful to Shenandoah for taking on such a beast of a play, and for bringing Jason Robert Brown, the composer/lyricist himself, in for a week of workshops and performance. He directed my castmates and me in the music and our approach to the material, and I got to work on "What Am I Waiting For" with him individually. It was incredible guidance in the nuance and subtlety of his work, and it really shaped my approach to the character (and acting in general) in enormous ways.

Today, a few weeks after closing, I reflect on the timeless message of this show, urging people against xenophobia and other-ism. It charges us to go through the world with compassion and to seek good in those around us. It taught me about the unstoppable nature of love and the power of hope. It also brought me tremendous joy to portray a 3-dimensional, incredibly strong woman who does not back down from the adversity in her and Leo's story. Lucille's journey throughout the play takes her to a place of empowerment and self-actualization, and in finding my similarities to this character I found myself feeling more capable and empowered than ever before.

Knowing that this story is based entirely on a true event is harrowing. Researching this show caused me to reflect heavily on my own society. Several of my castmates were from Atlanta or other Southern communities that looked quite similar back in the day to that of the show. It's hard to see the instances in society today where people are taken for one event or circumstance and demonized, or instances where mob mentality take hold of otherwise moral people. It scares me that the rift in society that the show reflects upon is still not healed. But it feels somehow reassuring to be doing work that at the very least, causes people to think and feel beyond their typical scope.

I've put some pictures in the post below!

Production photos by Caleb Rouse.

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