Play has important message for educators, students

Who is Johnny Williams?

It's a question the audience might ask even after seeing the Augusta Mini Theatre's production of The Johnny Williams Story, said Tyrone Butler, the founder of the arts school and author of the play.

It's not who Johnny Williams is, however, but what he represents that's important, Mr. Butler said.

"When people find out that there really is a Johnny Williams and that this is based on his true story, they wonder where he is and if they know him," he said. "As one young man stated some time ago, there's a bit of Johnny Williams in all of us. There is a Johnny Williams in our classrooms today, and it's our job to encourage them."

The production tells the story of a boy who, growing up, is told that is he dumb and can't achieve anything. So, in order to be "somebody," Johnny acts out. It's not until he attends college that he realizes his potential and goes on to made a difference in his community, Mr. Butler said.

"The message in this play is that everyone needs someone who loves them and needs someone who motivates them," he said. "It also encourages people to not give up, no matter the circumstances."

Judith Simon-Butler, the school's artistic director, portrays six characters, including Johnny's mother, college classmate and little sister.

"The most challenging part, which is also the part I enjoy, is tapping into my skills and making each character an individual," she said. "I've been working on developing six very distinct personalities and mannerisms so, as we say in acting, the characters don't bleed into each other."

The production will be shown beginning today and will run through Jan. 25. Today's performance will also honor Earnestine M. Robinson, an Augusta Mini Theatre employee who has worked with the arts school for 33 years.

Reach Nikasha Dicks at (706) 823-3336 or nikasha.dicks@augustachronicle.com.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: The Johnny Williams Story

WHEN: 8 p.m. today and Friday; 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 8 p.m. Jan. 16; 3 and 8 p.m. Jan. 17 and 18; 8 p.m. Jan. 23; 3 and 8 p.m. Jan. 25. School shows will be presented at 9:45 and 11:45 a.m. Monday through Jan. 15

WHERE: Augusta Mini Theatre, 2548 Deans Bridge Road

COST: $15 adults; $12 students; $10 per person in youth groups of 10 or more

TICKETS: Call (706) 722-0598 or visit www.augustaminitheatre.com.


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