Neeley Gossett's Beulah Creek takes place during the summer of 1936 amidst a Baptist camp meeting in South Georgia. When the pastor’s wife Ruth meets Iris, the WPA photographer documenting the revival, an unexpected relationship develops between the two women that challenges the societal norms of the time.
A chorus of women sing Southern hymns and speak biblical text to give Ruth a means of expressing the feelings she does not know nor dare to name. When the revival participants grow suspicious of the relationship, Ruth must choose between Iris and the community in which she was raised.
For this world premiere production by Found Stages Theatre, Neeley and I knew we wanted to give the audience the full sense of being at an outdoor tent revival. The play's story – like the beauty of the outdoors – is a timeless one. It’s a story about embracing every aspect of self-identity and celebrating the people in our lives who help us see ourselves for everything that we are. It’s a story that challenges the notion that anyone can be put inside a clearly marked box.
In order to tell a story so big and yet so simple, we needed a space to match. Dunwoody Nature Center offered the perfect natural space for the story, and after several discussions and new drafts, Beulah Creek was specifically rewritten with that natural space in mind. As the characters solved the dilemma at hand in real time, the audience journeyed with them to four different locations, guided by a chorus of women through song and candlelight. Dessert of cornbread and milk was shared with the audience in the final scene. Our goal became to offer an opportunity for people to get together in person and celebrate the community created through shared experiences.
Found Stages Theatre, September 2014 at Dunwoody Nature Center
Written by Neeley Gossett
Directed by Nichole Palmietto
Music Direction by Julie Puckett
Stage Managed by Kara Procell
Assistant Stage Managed by Kayla Zinke
Lighting Design by Tara O'Neill
Costume Design by Alyssa Jackson
Dramaturgy by Addae Afura Moon
Public Relations by Annie Harrison Elliott
Marketing by Chelsea Steverson
Cast: Daryl Fazio, Mary Saville, Julie Puckett, Liz Schad, Rachel Frawley and Elin Rose Hill
Photos by KVC Photography