Tyrone Butler is not afraid to confront social issues in his plays.
The executive director of the Augusta Mini Theatre has written more than 20 plays with many of them tackling issues that young people are exposed to such as bullying, drugs and teen pregnancy.
His latest offering brings to light another issue in the news.
Called All God’s Children Got Guns (Truth or Myth?), the play addresses guns and gun violence, but in a different way.
“I got the idea from reading the newspaper and watching the news. One would think that everyone has a gun, but that’s not the truth,” he said.
As he thought about what he might write, he stumbled across an old movie that became the tipping point of his story.
“I grew up watching old Westerns, and I still love old Westerns,” he said.
In the Wild, Wild West, they used their guns to hunt their food and protect their land, but one film’s character made a statement that made Butler think.
“He said that there were new laws and new churches coming, and these laws and churches would make us a more civilized society. We wouldn’t need guns because in a civilized society, people talk things through. They negotiate,” he said.
The play doesn’t take sides on gun control. Rather, it drives home the point of being a civilized society and do we live in one?
The style of the play is also different. It’s poetic rather than prose, and the production features about 80 children. Also involved in the production are members of the African dance class.
All God’s Children Got Guns (Truth or Myth?) will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday, May 19, and at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 20, and Sunday, May 21, at the Augusta Mini Theatre on Deans Bridge Road. Tickets are $12.
Once the production is complete, Butler is looking ahead to some fundraising. The organization has to raise $215,000 by March 2018 to match and receive $857,000 from a previous Special Local Option Sales Tax. So far, $175,000 has come in with $40,000 remaining. The money will go toward building the second phase of the school, which is a 250-seat theater. Currently, productions are in the smaller black box theater inside the 9,333-square-foot school, which the organization has occupied since 2008.
Butler said once that money is raised, he hopes to leverage it and secure matching funds through a foundation or larger donor to meet the total $2.9 million cost of the theater.
He said there were many naysayers who didn’t think the current facility would ever be constructed, and there are naysayers now. He’s not deterred.
“We’re here on Deans Bridge Road in south Richmond County, and we’ve impacted this area positively,” he said.
To learn more about the Augusta Mini Theatre, call (706) 722-0598.