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Works by Frost, Faulkner get dramatic treatment

A story by Shirley Jackson also is featured in a play that opens the River Ridge Drama department's season.

By BARBARA L. FREDRICKSEN

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 20, 2000


The River Ridge Drama department opens its 10th anniversary season today with four short dramas, three of them dramatizations of well-known short stories by William Faulkner and Shirley Jackson and a poem by Robert Frost. The fourth isan original script based on the Salem witch trials.

The quartet, named Reflections: Four American Dramas by directors Tim and Lori Erickson, are developed around the seasons of the year and have a decidedly somber tone. They are recommended for ages 13 and older.

Summer is represented by "The Lottery," an adaptation by Brainerd Duffield of Ms. Jackson's powerful allegory of barbarism and social sacrifice. Set in a small New England town in midcentury, the story is about an annual festival that culminates in a strange and horrifying lottery drawing that the townspeoplethink ensures their continued well-being.

Autumn isrepresented by Frost's poignant poem The Death of the Hired Man, adapted by Jay Reid Gould. It's a conversation between a farmer, Warren, and his wife, Mary, about their former hired hand, Silas, who has asked to come back to the farm to spend his last days. The poem contains the familiar lines describing "home" as "where, when you have to go there,/They have to take you in."

Winter is symbolized in "To Burn a Witch" by James L. Bray. In it, two girls accused of witchcraft in 1692 in Salem must make a decision -- confess to a lie or face a hideous death sentence.

In the final short drama, spring isrepresented by Faulkner's shocking tale "A Rose for Emily," adapted by playwright Joseph Robinette. In the story, Miss Emily, the proud daughter of a small Southern town's now-deceased leading citizen, lives alone in her father's mansion. To the town's amazement, Miss Emily begins keeping company with a handsome man who is in town briefly on a contracting job. When both seem suddenly to have disappeared, the townspeople become curious -- then stunned as the truth begins to emerge.

Fifty students portray the various characters in the four stories and serve as crew members, including 23 stage veterans and 27 newcomers from River Ridge Middle School and River Ridge High School.

Since 1991, River Ridge Drama has produced 11 musicals, five plays and nine one-act plays for more than 35,000 people. The plays are completely underwritten by ticket sales. Ticket proceeds have also been used to purchase new equipment for the River Ridge auditorium.

The department will produce the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat on April 27, 28 and 29.

At a glance

WHAT: "Reflections: Four American Dramas"

WHERE: The Center for the Arts at River Ridge, Town Center Road, New Port Richey

WHEN: 7 p.m. today and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday

TICKETS: $3; reservations not necessary

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