Upcoming production asks theatergoers to render verdict
There’s an ongoing debate in society about our children and the influences of popular culture and who should be held responsible when “good kids go bad.” Do we blame the media and pop culture? Do we blame the parents? Is it a composite effect of all those things?
Tyrone Butler and The Augusta Mini Theatre will tackle this hot-button issue in the upcoming production of “The Parents of Tabatha Tutt vs. DJ Smoke.”
The play, which was written and directed by Butler, tells the story of a sweet, young girl, Tabatha Tutt, who becomes a fan of a local disc jockey, DJ Smoke, who likes to play unedited versions of songs on his afternoon radio show.
“When Tabitha was about 12.5 years old, she was in a car with her cousin going to the mall,” explains Butler. “He had his radio on listening to this new guy in town, DJ Smoke, that’s when she heard him for the first time and she fell in love. She loved his voice, his radio personality and everything. She couldn’t wait to listen to DJ Smoke every day.”
But Tabitha didn’t just stop at listening to the radio show, Butler explains further.
“She heard that he was having a teen club, and that he would be playing the music [from his radio show] and she would sneak out on Saturday nights to go to his teen club,” he says. “She would dance and enter this dance contest called the ‘DJ Smoke nasty dance contest’ and she would win. She got so popular that people started calling her ‘nasty girl’.”
So where are the parents in all of this?
“Her parents knew nothing about it,” says Butler. “She would slip back in the house, and the next morning would still go to church and everything so she fooled her parents really well.”
By the time Tabatha is 17 she has three kids and is pregnant with a fourth. She has AIDS and is trying to get on government assistance and apply for Section 8 housing. Her parents, in desperation, decide to sue DJ Smoke, “if not for Tabatha,” says Butler, “maybe to help future children,” and get this unedited, inappropriate music off the radio.
The story takes place in a courtroom.
“I am an old fan of Perry Mason, the TV series,” says Butler. “And we go to court because the parents of Tabatha Tutt feel that DJ Smoke played music with lyrics that motivated their daughter to go in a negative direction.”
In an interesting twist, the audience gets to be the jury. At the intermission of the play — the audience gets a ballot and will vote guilty or not guilty after hearing testimony from the parents, DJ Smoke and expert witnesses. The ballots will be tallied and given to the bailiff who will then give the info to the judge. Following the play there will be a discussion for those who want to participate.
“What I want,” says Butler, “is the audience to debate the issue — especially the parents. ‘What is my role, what else is out there that is interfering with my parenting?’” “The Parents of Tabatha Tutt vs. DJ Smoke.”
Augusta Mini Theatre
Friday, January 18, at 8 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, January 19-20, at 3 and 8 p.m.; and Monday, January 21, Saturday-Sunday, February 16-17, at 3 p.m.
$12, adults; $10, children and students 18 and younger; $8, groups of 10 or more
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