The Recorder – “A Long Time Down South”


Published: 08/17/2022 15:26:01

Modified: 08/17/2022 15:22:35

The LAVA center was filled with spectators watching the play “A Long Moment in the South” directed by Jan Maher.

Maher, a founding member of LAVA, explained that she has wanted to stage this play since the center opened in 2020. Due to pandemic restrictions, the play was postponed to last weekend.

The weekend included two performances. Friday night’s production has been recorded and is available on the website starting this Thursday.

“I’m thrilled for others to see my work,” said play writer Richard Wayne Horton. “I want to see how it spills over into other people’s consciousness as they perform the piece.”

Horton explained that he used collections of his writings throughout his life to write a finished work.

Growing up in Texas, Horton began writing poetry in Austin in the 1970s when he attended the University of Texas at Austin. Since then, he has received two Pushcart nominations and published two short story books, “Sticks & Bones”, published by Meat For Tea Press and “Artists In The Underworld”, published by Human Error Publishing.

“I accessed deep memories to complete this piece,” Horton said. He began writing the play in 2017, finishing the job a few years later. He then shortened the piece during the pandemic to a few key scenes for the 65-minute production at the LAVA Center.

Horton was influenced by a variety of literary movements throughout the 20th century. He pointed to 1960s modernism and 1920s realism as key influences. The play does not follow a linear plot, but rather displays sequences of memories and dreams from Horton’s life.

“The images are part of a sequence that creates an overall impression. It’s something that was first done in 1920s Russian film,” Horton said.

For Maher’s preparation for the performance, she rehearsed the play four times with the four actors. Additionally, the actors were given song sheets to practice singing the piece between rehearsals. “I was thrilled to collaborate with others to bring to life a play that had never been staged before,” said Robert Catlin, a cast member in the play.

Catlin explained that he hadn’t performed on stage in 25 years and was excited to return to acting. “It was interesting to find different rhythms and become different characters,” he said.

The play touches on a variety of themes that the actors had to work through. Some of the main themes raised by Catlin were “domestic tensions, racism, and social and economic pressures in the South.”

Some scenes are clearly reality-based with clearly defined characters, while others are dreamlike depictions of confusing realities.

Catlin said his favorite scene to star in included a veteran suffering from post-war traumatic stress. He acted like a veteran having a flashback while his family is embroiled in his delusional trauma. Catlin explained, “I grew up in a military family and have great compassion for the men and women who have gone through times of extreme violence and fear while still growing up themselves.”

A dream scene features a little boy on a tower who was left there by his mother and faces his fear of wild animals.

Sally Bernard was the first member of the public to arrive and was thrilled to see the play’s opening night. She said, “I think it’s wonderful. Anything you can do to bring education to town is amazing.

When asked what the LAVA Center brings to Greenfield, Catlin explained, “It’s a very creative space for experimentation and for giving voice to poets and playwrights who need a place to produce their work.”

The LAVA Center hours of operation are Thursdays 5-8pm and Saturdays 11am-9pm. at 14h

Contact Bella Levavi at [email protected] or 413-930-4579.


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