Barter Theatre Premieres Catherine Bush's WALKING ACROSS EGYPT Tonight
Barter Theatre premieres a Southern story guaranteed to warm your heart. "Walking Across Egypt" begins tonight, February 14 at Barter Main Stage, just in time for Valentine's Day. Written by Catherine Bush and based on the best-selling novel by Southern writer Clyde Edgerton, this wise and witty story stars Barter audience favorite Mary Lucy Bivins and is directed by Eugene Wolf.
The story follows Mattie Rigsbee (Mary Lucy Bivins), an older Southern woman with a deeply held faith and a habit of taking care of others. Lately, she feels like no one needs her and that she might be slowing down. Her world is turned upside down when she harbors a sullen and rebellious juvenile delinquent, and then, of all things, brings him to church with her!
Mattie is going to do her best to woo the young man to the side of good, if only she can keep out of trouble, herself.
Director Eugene Wolf knows that audiences will see their own families reflected in the characters in the play. Mattie reminds him of his own grandmothers. "This book was the first time I had encountered a character that so closely mirrored someone I was close to. My own blood. I felt like I was home while reading it," Wolf says.
North Carolina author Clyde Edgerton named his book after a Southern hymn, and although the show is not a musical, the world of the play is made richer by having a live church choir on stage. Hymns like "Walking Across Egypt," "Amazing Grace," "This Little Light of Mine" and "Softly and Tenderly" as arranged by Eugene Wolf add depth to the story.
"The integration of some music was important for us because music is such a large part of the Appalachian culture and the story is set in a small town in North Carolina," said Producing Artistic Director Richard Rose.
Husband and wife team Barter Resident Actors Nicholas and Wendy Piper play Mattie's nosy neighbors. They are going to protect her whether she likes it or not. Mattie's grown son is played by Michael Poisson. The cast is rounded out by David Alford, Sean Michael Flattery, Rick McVey and Justin Tyler Lewis.
Last year, "Walking Across Egypt" received its world premiere in a mini-production presented as part of Barter's Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights. Audience response was overwhelmingly positive, and Barter realized that this uplifting story deserved a full production in 2013.
Sponsors for "Walking Across Egypt" are Strongwell, Abingdon Roofing, WCYB, Fun Things to Do in the Mountains and WBEJ. Barter season sponsors are Alpha Natural Resources, BVU, Eastman Credit Union, Mountain States Health Alliance and the United Company. Barter Theatre is partially funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Virginia Commission for the Arts.
"Mattie is an independent Southern woman just trying to do the right thing. Little does she know a simple, but delicious pan of cornbread could change the world, said Rose. "This sincere, yet frequently funny story will restore your faith in mankind. It just proves that you're never too old to be needed and you're never too lost to be found."
With its unique beginnings during the Great Depression, Barter Theatre, one of this nation's oldest professional non-profit theatres, is located in beautiful historic Abingdon, Virginia. Barter Theatre is a theatre of firsts: one of this nation's first professional regional theatres, the first professional theatre to be designated a state theatre - The State Theatre of Virginia and more. Today, Barter offers a variety of musicals, classics, comedies, dramas and new southern and Appalachian plays performed February - December yearly on two stages: Barter Theatre and Barter Stage II. Barter Theatre continues to be one of the nation's most vibrant and exciting professional theatre experiences.
For tickets and more information, call (272) 628-3991 or visit BarterTheatre.com.
Pictured: Sean Michael Flattery and Mary Lucy Bivins star is Barter Theatre's "Walking Across Egypt" beginning February 14.