Far-flung troupe graces Kroc Center stage for one night only
The Salvation Army Territorial Creative Arts Ensemble performs “The Pilgrim’s Progress” one night only, this Saturday, October 20, at 7 p.m.
“The play is written by Christopher Morgan and is an adaption of the classic novel ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ which has been around forever and was written by John Bunyan,” says Roberta Simmons-Smith, the creative arts director for the Southern territory. “We wanted to choose something that had a Christian message to it, a redeeming value to it, while at the same time not threatening. We wanted to attract the general public and the community, and that book is a well-known book. It’s kind of like ‘The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe,’ it has Christian undertones without having blatant references to Christianity.”
It’s also an easy play for audience members to digest, despite the number of characters it contains.
“It’s a two-act play and it has 56 characters, but there’s only eight of us in the cast,” she explains. “Each actor plays about five or six characters each. It’s pretty exciting.”
Having the cast portray so many different characters is a daunting task in itself, but to complicate matters further, since the ensemble is culled from Salvationists from all 15 of the Southern states, this year’s ensemble is made up of people from Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia.
“Because the team comes from such diverse places,” says Simmons-Smith, “they’ve memorized the play and we come together for the first time on Wednesday to put the play together and then we perform it on Saturday night.”
The Salvation Army’s Southern Territorial Creative Arts Ensemble is based in Atlanta, but, fortunately, modern technology makes it easy to audition actors from all over the South.
“It’s a video audition only,” explains Simmons-Smith. “For instance, our 2013 season is auditioning right now, and so we’re receiving videos via an online website that we have and they audition with a song, dance and a monologue. We base our membership on a panel who then looks at those videos and then the membership is chosen.”
Once the ensemble is selected, they perform in three events during their annual season. This season, the Kroc Center was selected to host one of these three events.
“We always try to support the Salvation Army churches within the Southern territory, so we only have three events that this group performs in a year,” says Simmons-Smith. “We are just in awe… just within our own Salvation Army realm with what the Kroc in Augusta is doing and we want to support that, so we called them up and asked them if they’d be willing to host us for a weekend at our expense.
The Kroc Center, obviously, accepted and the ensemble, she says, has been pleasantly surprised by the space.
“The theater space [at the Kroc Center] is just amazing and we don’t require that when we perform, so it’s something we’re not totally used to,” she says. “We have to kind of fit into a box when we go and perform places usually, but this is a quality theater environment at the Kroc so we’re really excited about it. The process starts about six to 12 months in advance just setting up the venue and they were excited to have us, so we just wanted to support the Kroc. All proceeds [from the performance] go straight back into the Kroc.”
“The Pilgrim’s Progress”
The Kroc Center | Saturday, October 20 | 7 p.m. | $5
706-364-5762 | krocaugusta.orgYou Might Also Like: