Oddfellows Playhouse Maplewood Terrace and Chatham Court Senior Troupes present Across
the River, a new work looking at the good and bad choices young people make
and how these choices affect their lives. Created by
directors Bobbye Knoll and Elizabeth Namen and a diverse 17-member cast, Across
the River will be performed at Oddfellows on February 25 and 26 at .
Across the River is the first mainstage collaboration between two
of Oddfellows’ Neighborhood Troupes, a free after-school performing arts
program for residents of low-income neighborhoods. The
Maplewood Terrace Senior Troupe from Middletown and the Chatham Court Senior
Troupe from Portland consist primarily of African
American and Latino teens, ages 13-17. Working individually, the two Troupes
began developing the thought-provoking material for this piece in their fall
classes, discussing and writing about issues that were important to them. The
Troupes have met and rehearsed jointly since mid-December.
The title of the play, Across the River, is a metaphor for getting
beyond the bad decisions one has made in one’s life. The piece uses the young
people’s own words and explores problems plaguing low-income
neighborhoods--drugs, crime and death—and what these teens believe they can do
to rise above these situations. Scenes are connected by original music and
narrators who read published accounts of life in low-income neighborhoods that
mirror the experience of Oddfellows’ teenagers. The play also looks at the
good things that happen in these neighborhoods and end with a positive
resolution of challenging situations for some of the characters.
Directors Bobbye Knoll and Elizabeth Namen already consider this
production a triumph for their two Troupes.In addition to
the artistic knowledge and performing experience the cast is gaining, these
young people have learned such essential skills as taking personal
responsibility, working together as a group, and being committed to follow a
project through to completion. Achieving these life skills, in itself, is a big
measure of the production’s success.
for the Neighborhood Troupes in 2005 comes from Middlesex United Way, The Thomas
J. Atkins Memorial Fund, The George A. and Grace L. Long Foundation, Middletown
Commission on the Arts, and Citizens Bank.
All performances of Across
the River will be at Oddfellows Playhouse, 128 Washington Street (Rte 66), in Middletown. The play’s mature content
is most appropriate for those over 12. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for
students and seniors. For more information or to reserve tickets, please call