Favorite

‘One Ninth’ 

Jan. 5, Wildwood Park for the Performing Arts

click to enlarge WELL-BALANCED STORY: 'One Ninth.'
  • WELL-BALANCED STORY: 'One Ninth.'

Most everyone is familiar with the story of the Little Rock Nine. But few of us are familiar with the individuals outside what history books tell us of their experiences. In the Arkansas Repertory Theatre's “One Ninth,” which debuted Monday at Wildwood Park for the Performing Arts, we get to know one of the nine, Minnijean Brown, intimately. Written by her daughter, Spirit Trickey, the play uses Brown's diary entries to provide the audience with a deeply moving account of the 1957 crisis.

The cast does an outstanding job in its portrayal of the spirit of the times, in all its hope and hate. Peter (Jeremy Matthey) and Betty Ann (Melody Taylor), Central High students, embody the disgust some found in the idea of integration and Principal Bryant's character (Jason Thompson) reminds the audience of the racism of the era.

In sharp contrast were the love and support offered up by Brown's mother, Mrs. Brown (Nisheedah Devre Golden), and younger sister Phyllis (Morgan Christina Brown).

Crystal C. Mercer's performance as 15-year-old Brown was terrific. Excited for her first day at a new school, she's set on finding the perfect outfit for the occasion. Sharing her dreams with best friend Melba Patillo (Helen Michelle Daniel), Brown is innocent and idealistic.

Nine Parkview High School students played group roles. As a mob outside the school, they marched chanting, “Two, four, six, eight, we ain't gonna integrate!” They also stood by as soldiers sent by the president guarded the Nine's entry into the school.

Scene changes were creative: Instead of lowering the lights between sets, cast members not in character — set apart by wearing sunglasses — rearranged the stage while the performance continued. Their robotic movements created a subtle chaos that didn't distract from actors still on center stage. The changes complemented the turmoil of Minnijean's experience.

“One Ninth” is a well-balanced story that mindfully guides the audience from laughter to tears. Trickey successfully combined truth and fiction to shed new light on an episode in American history and to help the audience connect to the emotional experience of integration.

The play now begins a traveling residency that will take it to North Pulaski High School in Jacksonville Jan. 8 and high schools stretching from Fort Smith to Blytheville through early February. A three-day residency, Feb. 9-11, at Central High closes the play's run. Visit the rep.org for more information.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Jonelle Doughty

Most Shared

  • Conspiracy theorists

    Back in 2000, I interviewed Rev. Jerry Falwell on camera in connection with a documentary film of "The Hunting of the President," which Joe Conason and I wrote.
  • The health of a hospital

    The Medicaid expansion helped Baxter County Regional Medical Center survive and thrive, but a federal repeal bill threatens to imperil it and its patients.
  • Virgil, quick come see

    There goes the Robert E. Lee. But the sentiment that built the monument? It's far from gone.
  • Real reform

    Arkansas voters, once perversely skeptical of complicated ballot issues like constitutional amendments, have become almost comical Pollyannas, ratifying the most shocking laws.
  • That modern mercantile: The bARn

    The bARn Mercantile — "the general store for the not so general," its slogan says — will open in the space formerly occupied by Ten Thousand Villages at 301A President Clinton Ave.

Latest in Theater Reviews

Visit Arkansas

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Underutilized waterway is a hidden gem in urban Little Rock

Event Calendar

« »

May

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31  
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation