The Shape of Things to Come

Summer 2006

Joe Chamberlain as the Radio Announcer
This particular show depicted the 1960s and 1970s, and our transition away from previous racist attitudes. The main storyline, about Azilee dancing with the black cook, and the stir that it caused, originated with one of the cast. It's becoming difficult to imagine the mindsets that existed even earlier in my own lifetime. Which is why these stories are so important.  That said, we had several previous shows that addressed the racial divide in very heavy terms. Turn the Washpot Down and What Goes Around were practically nothing but that. And the cast -- and the county -- were ready for something a little lighter. As the character Leonard says, "It doesn't have to be about the whole world all the time."  Sometimes it's just about having a friend.  

The other previous shows, Coming up a Cloud and Mill Song, were also a little heavier in their way. So I'm not surprised that the switch to some  lighter comedic fare raised audience attendance.

Story threads:
Leonard and Azilee
In trying to get a handle on the character of Sidney Sullivan, the school counselor with the pleasant exterior and intolerant interior, I modeled him heavily on my own step-father. He was a very nice person, really, butwas as racist as the day is long. He would rant and rave... in private... about "niggers and Jews" but would never, ever let that affect the way he dealt with people on a personal level. Azilee would remark in the play, "You're a hypocrite!"  But for the people who grew up in those days it wasn't as simple as that.

People like him were taught their racist attitudes from their earliest life. It was impressed upon them from every side, and from every authority. They didn't just think they were racially superior, they knew it, with the same conviction that you know the sun is going to rise. At the same time, they were raised to be decent and polite, and that extended to everyone. So they were decent and polite and kind to minorities, while at the same time internally maintaining and enforcing their perceived superiority. If you still can't understand it, try this on for size: everyone knows you should be kind to animals. Animal cruelty should never enter your mind. But you wouldn't elect a dog to City Council, would you? Of course not, that would be ridiculous! Instead you'd teach the dog to heel and tell yourself that an obedient, well trained animal is happier and healthier. And now you know the mindset. As bizarre and twisted as it seems today, it wasn't hypocrisy at all when viewed within their own frame of reference.

Syndey explains to Azilee how "wrong" her association with Leonard.
Of course, such attitudes could lead to real hypocrisy pretty quickly. For instance, amid all of his anti-semitic ranting, it never occurred to my step-father that he married a woman who was born a Jew. To him she was somehow different because he knew her and loved her. So to him, her minority status didn't count.  And that extended to others as well. "Niggers" as a group were despicable in his eyes. But none of the Blacks that he knew were "niggers". They were somehow different because he knew them and loved them.

And there you have Sidney Sullivan. The only thing it would take to get him from the old mindset to the new with respect to an individual is familiarity. But we have to love more than just our neighbor.  To extend your new awareness to an entire group you just have to extend your love to the entire group. It sounds too easy, and perhaps it is. After all, if we could all spread the love, we wouldn't need to change the world.


Gossip at the beauty shop
The Shape  of Things to Come
Music & Lyrics by:
Ralph Lawson
Arrangement by: Buddy Wilkes & Dell Morgan
Why would you dress like that for a funeral?
Music & Lyrics by:
Ralph Lawson
Arrangement by: Buddy Wilkes & Dell Morgan
Rockin' on the Radio
Music & Lyrics by: Ralph Lawson
Arrangement by: Buddy Wilkes & Dell Morgan
I'm in Love
Music & Lyrics by: Ralph Lawson
Arrangement by: Buddy Wilkes & Dell Morgan
Goin' to the Drive-In
Music & Lyrics by: Ralph Lawson
Arrangement by: Buddy Wilkes & Dell Morgan
I wanna be a rock n roll star
Music & Lyrics by: Ralph Lawson
Arrangement by: Buddy Wilkes & Dell Morgan

Horrors! Aunt Lizzie Died.


Executive ("Core") Team: Pam McMillian, Chair
Nanette Jenkins
Monte Lancaster
Lacretia McClurkin-Peake
George Bruce
Kristi Sommer
Playwright: Betsy Vanderford
Director: Ralph Lawson
Producer: Jane Wilkes
Stage Manager:
Pianist: Dell Morgan
Trumpeter: Buddy Wilkes
Lighting Control: Trey Lawson
Sound Control  Maggie All
Choreographer: Janet Lawson
Props/Costumes: Betsy Vanderford, Cast
Special Food Props: Dave Leigh

arranged alphabetically by last name
(if I have any of these wrong just let me know so I can correct it)

Taylor Adams Young Lynn
Maggie All Lolly Jane
Reid Bailey Beth
Taylor Baker Darlene
Chase Baldwin Jerry
Devin Bates Rock-N-Roll Chorus
Mary Virginia Blackwell Audrey
Jessica Blankenship Nancy
Kyle Boineau Rock-N-Roll Chorus
Nancy Braxton Browning Miz Taylor
George Bruce Mr. Patterson
Bethany Byrd Elvis Girl 3
Daytona Caldwell Rock-N-Roll Chorus
Jacob Casey Child Curt
Joe Chamberlain Radio Announcer
Harriet Cohen Phyllis
Carrie Cothran Donna
Gino Furguson Franklin D.
Tatiana Ferguson Eleanor
Katie Ford Girl 4
Sarah Garnett Mabel
Jon Nick Gault Billy
Jessie Gibbs Rock-N-Roll Chorus
Becca Gibson Wanda
Janie Gist Sophie
Patrick Greer Calvin, age 11
Tony Gregory Wilbur
Anna Harris Rock-N-Roll Chorus
Morgan Hathcock Elvis Girl 5
Katie Holden Azilee "Azalea" Sullivan
Ron Holden Herbert
George Holloway Coach Jackson
Sue Keith Shirley Sullivan
Anna Kelly Mary Jo
Tori Labian Peggy
Bess Lawson Lynn
Janet Lawson Radio Singer
Kim Lawson Mrs. McCoy
Leah Lawson Young Azilee
Dave Leigh Sidney Sullivan
Michael Leigh Boy 1
Joanne Lipscomb Mrs. Lindsay
Mallory McGee Patty
Ashley Meador Diane
Connor Medford Kaye
Keely Messar Rock-N-Roll Chorus
Dell Morgan Radio Singer
Cassie Owen Elvis Girl 1
Dale Patterson Boy 3
Morgan Petty Girl 1
Katie Poole Debbie
Brittany Pridemore Kathy
Brooke Prince Elsie
Daniel Prince Homer
Bailey Queen Karen
Bobby Rogers Leonard
Johnny Sinclair Mr. Lindsay
Beverly Smith Maxine
Taylor Smith Jerry Lewis Taylor
Trey Smith Rock-N-Roll Chorus
Kristi Smith Peach
Sean Stephens Booger
Jim Stepp Abner
Kathy Stepp Bernice
Brittany Teague Elvis Girl 2
Sara Thompson Mrs. Jackson
Dillon Thompson Vic
Matt Vanderford Curt
Taylor Wade Boy 2
Buddy Wilkes Roy
Bailey Willard Rock-N-Roll Chorus
Jacob Winters Calvin as Child
Josh Winters Calvin Sullivan
Cathryn Young Young Dianne