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VSU gets ‘A Lesson Before Dying’

Starting today, students will be able to see “A Lesson Before Dying,” a theatric performance in the Lab Theatre on the second floor of the Fine Arts Building room 238.

The performance, which is based on Ernest Gaine’s novel, has a theme centered in Bayonne, La. in the late-1940s.

A Louisianan black man named Jefferson is accused of murder and is sentenced to death. The play follows his life from the sentencing to his execution.

Dr. John Gaston, dean of the College of the Arts, and H. Duke Guthrie, Associate Professor of Theatre, co-directed the stage adaptation by Romulus Linney, an American playwright who wrote over 20 plays.

“It’s an experience for the students—we try to give them a variety of different kinds of characters to play,” Dr. Gaston said.

The small cast consists of seven players: Mark LaMont Hance as Jefferson, D’Amante Wilson as Miss Emma Glen, John Holladay as Paul Bonin, Jonathan butts as Grant Wiggins, Clark Franzman as Sheriff Sam Guidry, Diamond Do’zia as Vivian Baptiste and Anthony Scott as Rev. Moses Ambrose.

Both Guthrie and Gaston believe the show will shed light on the hardships endured during the late-1940s for African Americans.

“I found the play incredibly powerful and exciting in a very challenging way, but I felt that I would need the cultural perspective that Dr. Gaston would bring, and his wisdom,” Guthrie said.

Dr. Gaston feels a good collaborative effort has been made.

“I think we’ve been able to go a little faster because he sees things that I don’t see, and when we put those together, it allows us to make progress,” he said.

Others also feel the energy given by the performance.

“I like the intimate feel for being in the lab so close to the performance,” Michael Driggers, technical director, said.

Despite the closeness of the performance, seats are filling up fast.

Remaining times for the performance are Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m. and Monday through Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

VSU Students get into the show for free with a valid ID. All other ticket prices are $12 for adults, $10 for senior citizens and $8 for children. Tickets are only $7 for groups of 10 or more.

Tickets can be purchased by calling the VSU Theatre and Dance Box Office between the hours of 2 and 5 p.m. at (229) 333-5973 for advanced reservation. Reserved tickets can be picked up approximately 30 minutes before curtain call.

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