Originally created 10/07/04

Actors prepare for Scotland



A high school's hillbilly tale of love hits the stage today, the public's first look at a production that will eventually reach an international audience.

The award-winning drama program at Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School will perform Dark of the Moon, a one-act play that director Betty Walpert calls an enchanting story filled with magic, comedy and intrigue.

It is the play the 23-student cast will take to Scotland next summer and perform at the 2005 Fringe Festival, the largest arts festival in the world.

Mrs. Walpert said she selected the piece because it emphasizes the South. It is set in the Appalachian mountains in the early 1900s.

"Since it was going to be an international venue with people from all over the (world) , I wanted to select something that was a little more of a Southern piece to show the South off," she said. "There is sort of a romantic idea of the South out there, especially by the Europeans. So I thought this would be really an enchanting story to take and a nice piece for my kids."

After performing the play tonight and Friday, the cast will begin fine-tuning a shorter version for regional and state competition in November.

Mrs. Walpert's class won the AAA One-Act Play State Championship last year with the production of the play For Colored Girls who have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf.

Based partially on that state award, Davidson was invited to apply for a spot in Scotland's Fringe Festival, the same festival where Harlem High School performed this year.

Davidson officials learned in April that their school is one of two Georgia schools invited to join the festival.

The cast will travel to Edinburgh, Scotland, in August to perform the play four times on four different days.

Dark of the Moon tells the story of a witch boy who hangs around a mountain community and is in love with a beautiful girl.

The superstitious townsfolk resent their happiness, and their interference in the relationship ends in tragedy.

Mrs. Walpert said the play requires a large and talented cast who can dance, sing and talk hillbilly.

Students have worked to master such slang as "cain't," "reckon" and "drinkin' corn."

"The students have to be able to perform in a comic style and also a dramatic style," Mrs. Walpert said. "That is the great thing about this piece. It makes you laugh, and then all of a sudden you are going, 'Uhhh, why am I laughing?'

"Plus, there is lots of movement in it," she continued. "That's been a challenge of pulling all of these elements together and make it flow as one solid piece."

The students will have months to fine-tune the piece before their Scotland show. Until then, they must work on raising $150,000 for the trip.

Senior Tiffany Hobbs, who plays a lead role in the student production, said the cast is working hard by selling crafts, holding auctions and performing improvisation during First Friday events.

"We are raffling off a car; we are painting windows, stools," she said. "We are doing a bunch of fund-raising."

Senior Shane Clark said the Scotland trip is an opportunity of a lifetime.

"This kind of thing only happens once," he said.

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or greg.rickabaugh@augustachronicle.com.

chris thelen/staff

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WANT TO see the show?

Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School offers an evening of dance and drama at 7 p.m. today and Friday in the Beverly J. Barnhart Theater at 615 12th St.The evening includes a performance of Dark of the Moon, the one-act play that the school will take to the 2005 Fringe Festival in Scotland. The double bill also includes an evening of dance, jazz and song, featuring ballet, modern dance, advanced African dance, tap and dance jazz and the school's jazz band.Tickets can be purchased at the door and cost $8 for adults; $7 for senior citizens, children and students and $6 for Davidson students. The school takes cash or checks.