Tragedy, like the death of a sibling or suicide attempt by your child, can shape and form the relationships within a family. This truth is explored in the Davidson Community Players’ 50th anniversary offering, “Ordinary People.”
Similar to the 1980s movie directed by Robert Redford, the play follows Conrad Jarrett, played by Wolfe Edwards, as he recovers from a suicide attempt that stemmed from issues surrounding the drowning of his brother Buck during a sailing accident.
Davidson LifeLine was formed in 2012 as a town initiative to deal with mental health issues in the community after the population of about 11,000 people, experienced five suicides and 12 suicide attempts.
“Suicide and mental health has been a big issue in this community for past couple of years,” said Matt Merrell, executive director of DCP. “That is why we decided to produce a show that focuses on mental health.”
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DCP and Davidson LifeLine, through a partnership with an adult education institute, DavidsonLearns, to offer a companion class and discussion on the topic of suicide and mental health.
Merrell said that the play lends itself to further study and the community is lucky to have these organizations to help them dig deeper into the story.
“The fact that the family has a tragedy is a sidelight to what the story is about. It’s about family relationships. It’s how they deal with the tragedy while dealing with their love and compassion for each other,” said Merrell.
“The play is really about how we value each other,” said Bill Reilly, who plays Cal Jarrett, the compliant father. “There are universal themes here that everybody can take something from. If anybody is in a family of any kind they will find something in this of value that they can relate to and take home some positive feelings.”
Merrell said that the play is the annual show funded by a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council. The grant allows DCP to hire guests actors to help the volunteer cast elevate the show while mentoring the less cast members.
Professional Charlotte actress Elyse A. Williams, who has worked with DCP before, brought her expertise as the guest artist, portraying Beth Jarrett – the distant mother. Williams said she was thrilled to be back, playing such a complex role as Beth.
Director Debra Baron, artistic director of DCP, said, “I could not have asked for a better ensemble of actors for this production. It is a very diverse group and everyone has such a good work ethic.”
Baron, who moved here from the Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis in April 2014, said, “The opportunity to work with these actors, in this show in particular, has been a great welcoming introduction to the community as a whole.”
After some performances the cast will be joined for talk backs – with or led by professionals – to discuss the issues raised in the play. Merrell said that they will have four or five talk backs. Previous guests were Jean Jackson from Davidson LifeLine on Feb. 27 and Dr. Tom Gettleman from Carolinas HealthCare System Behavioral Health on March 6.
Merrell said they would post the dates of the remaining guest talk backs online when scheduled.
Baron said, “As a director I would like (the audience) to walk away thinking about their own lives.… What really resonates for me is all the different relationships and all the ways in which people are finding their way in life.”
Marty Price is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marty? Email him at email@example.com
Want to go?
Remaining performances of “Ordinary People” are at 2 p.m, March 8 and March 15 and 8 p.m. March12-14. Performances will be held at the Amour Street Theatre, 307 Amour St., Davidson.
Tickets – $20; $18- seniors and $12 for students – are available at 704-892-7953 or at /www.davidsoncommunityplayers.org.
Information: www.facebook.com (go to “Davidson Community Places”).