December 17, 2018

‘The Queens of the Golden Mask’ at Ivoryton Strikes a Topical Chord … With a Warning

Gerrianne Genga, Sarah Jo Provost and Ellen Barry perform in ‘The Queens of the Golden Mask.’ Photo by Jonathan Steele.

IVORYTON – It is summer, 1961, and in Celestial, Ala., it’s hotter’n a blister bug in a pepper patch.  It is especially steamy in the kitchen of the Sage household where the matriarch, Ida, has gathered her friends around her to meet the new girl in town.  How will Rose from Ohio fit in with the ladies of Celestial who bake pies, sell Avon and belong to the Ku Klux Klan?

The Queens of the Golden Mask, a world premiere currently being performed at the Ivoryton Playhouse, runs through Nov. 18. Carole Lockwood’s brand new play pulls aside the Cotton Curtain to reveal a hidden piece of history that tells a little-known story and also raises a warning. The normalizing of hate is dangerous and toxic – not only to the objects of the hatred but eventually destroying those who are unwittingly caught up in its comfortable complacency.

The play is based on the experiences of Elizabeth H. Cobbs/Petric Smith, who wrote the autobiographical Long Time Coming: An Insiders Story of the Birmingham Church Bombing that Rocked the World. Smith’s work provides more than an insider’s account of one of the most atrocious events of the civil rights era; it is also the personal journey of a woman inside the world of the most extreme opponents of racial justice.

In the violent world of the Klan, women were subservient; men beat their wives with impunity in order to sustain white male supremacy. Most women were partners in the goal of maintaining white supremacy but there were many who, quietly and with great moral courage, put their lives on the line. This is their story.

Lockwood is an actor and writer, who has performed all over the country, on and off Broadway, but it was a challenge from David Mamet that prompted her to sit down and write a play — she has been writing ever since.

Lockwood has written five plays; Basic CableThe Lone Star Princess; and three scripts based in the civil rights movement, “the girls” of Red Tears (the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church), The Mary Band Road Show (the Selma-to-Montgomery March) and The Queens of the Golden MaskUp on the Roof (rooftops after Hurricane Katrina) is currently in the works.

The cast includes Bonnie Black*, Bethany Fitzgerald*, Jes Bedwinek, and Anna Fagan, who have all previously appeared at Ivoryton, and Ellen Barry*, Gerrianne Genga* and Sarah Jo Provost* who will be making their Ivoryton debut.

The production is directed by Jacqueline Hubbard, Ivoryton’s Artistic Director, with set design by Daniel Nischan, lighting design by Marcus Abbott and costume design by Elizabeth Saylor Cipollina.

Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

There will be a talk back with the cast and director plus guests after each performance on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

Tickets are $55 for adults; $50 for seniors; $25 for students and $20 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

(Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

*denotes member of Actors Equity

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