Members of Thomas County Central High School’s TC Masquers promise their upcoming show will run the emotional gauntlet and be unlike anything their audience has recently experienced.
TC Masquers will debut their One Act production of “Digging Up the Boys” Tuesday, Oct. 23. The show is 6:30 p.m. at the Thomas County Board of Education Auditorium, located at 200 N. Pinetree Blvd.
The play’s setting is the 1930s Appalachian South, when coal is king but miners work for pennies and stay in debt – including to a greedy, seedy foreman -- to provide for their families. And then the mine collapses.
“The word I would use to describe the play is heartbreaking,” sophomore performer Aubrey Miller said. “The entire play is about three men who are trapped in a mine that has collapsed and the women above who are trying to get them out.”
Advisor and TCCHS drama teacher Gabrielle McMullen chose this show because of the impact it made upon her when she first read it. The story struck her because it wasn’t rushed, there was real character development and the plot was well-paced. It also showcases the strength and brilliance of women, McMullen adds, an overall theme for this year’s Masquers season.
“I knew I had to direct this show,” she said.
McMullen and her student performers have approached rehearsals for this play in a different manner from previous shows. Because both the male and female characters in the show are close, each group of student performers has spent extra time together to create a real bond that will be evident onstage.
Cast members include Miller as Addie, freshman Georgia Rose Patton as Ruth, freshman Molly Grace White as May, sophomore Loren Shepherd as a mill worker, sophomore Cameron Parker as Jack, junior Stephen Sykes as Floyd, senior Nick Hales as Paul and senior Ben Thomas as Foreman.
Cameron Parker, 15, describes his character as very angry and short-tempered, but also a loving brother to his sister Ruth. He loves to act and has a fondness for the school’s drama program and its members.
Parker calls the show a tense one.
“Tension grows with the guys as they fight for their lives and as the girls race to save their loved ones,” he said.
One of the cast’s favorite scenes is known as the dream sequence.
“It highlights the connections between the guys and the girls,” Parker said. “It showcases how each of them feel toward each other.”
The men trapped in the mine and the women waiting for them dream about each other and what they would say if they could see each other, Miller explains.
“This is the only scene where the men and women get to interact because in every other scene the men are trapped in the mine and the women above are trying to get them out,” she said.
After the TC Masquers present the show to its community, the group will perform it for Georgia High School Association Region 5A One Act competition. TCCHS competes against four other schools for a chance to advance to state.
“This competition is definitely intense, but I love taking students each year because, for a day, our actors are able to see four other live shows and talk with students who have the same interests as them,” McMullen said. “Our kids always leave with at least 10 new friends and contacts for college.”
Participation in One Act offers student performers a variety of perks, she adds. They gain experience of a working production, creative freedom through the expression of their characters, and the knowledge to build and paint scenery or apply makeup.
“I also have seen students gain a sense of self by participating in One Act, because they don’t realize all that they are capable of until asked to perform or hem a dress,” McMullen said.
“Digging Up the Boys” is presented with special permission from Playscripts Services Inc. Tickets are $4 for TCCHS faculty and students and $8 for adults. Tickets may be purchased at www.tcchstville.booktix.com or at the door the night of the performance.
“Everyone come see the show,” Parker said. “The show is very fun, and it will make you laugh one minute and cry the other. The actors are very talented. We worked really hard on it. The show is going to be amazing!”
Miller encourages her fellow students to see the production.
“It is a great story with a good meaning, and I think they would enjoy it,” she said.
McMullen says the show has another unique quality – other than the talents of its student performers – to offer its audience.
“I can guarantee that most community members have not seen a story like this in a long time,” she said.