DRIVING MISS DAISY Opens Tonight at Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater
The classic American drama Driving Miss Daisy runs this weekend at the Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater in Hagerstown, Maryland, with a contemporary staging twist. More than twenty years after its' Off-Broadway debut, Alfred Uhry's play still examines uncomfortable prejudices and relationships and rings relevant in our culture.
Driving Miss Daisy portrays the relationship between an elderly Southern woman, Daisy (portrayed by Claudia Patterson) and her chauffeur, Hoke Colburn (portrayed by Andre Brown), over a period of three decades from the 1940's to the 1970's. When Daisy's son, Boolie (portrayed by David Key), hires a new African American chauffeur for his Southern born and bred (and prejudiced) mother, ideas about tolerance, prejudice and friendship are put to the ultimate test in this wonderful American Pulitzer Prize winning- drama.
'The underlying theme in Driving Miss Daisy is universal. Everyone is raised with prejudices. They are innate. Our paradigms are instilled in us by those who raise us. Some of us reach a point of questioning 'givens,' and we lose confidence in what we are taught, resulting (usually) in a change for the better. This play is about a couple people who are afflicted by their beliefs. They claim not to be prejudiced, but exhibit traits which provide strong evidence to the contrary' said director Jeff Czerbinski.
'There is still the problem of race relations in American society. Simply look at the Zimmerman v. Trevon Martin trial. This play deals with the pragmatic aspects of race relations in American society. We are able to see thru Miss Daisy's and Hoke's eyes the way they are viewed as minorities and how it is possible to create a long lasting friendship through trust and understanding' said Patterson.
The Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater is a unique venue to present this compelling drama in a very unusual staging manner.
'We are doing this production as 'black box.' The opportunities this type of production presents are very exciting. Black box theater allows an audience to use their imagination. Although Driving Miss Daisy is a popular piece, our different approach to this production should provide a very pleasant evening of theater' said Czerbinski.
'The Washington County Playhouse is trying a new approach with the black box production. It is not often used in theater' added Patterson.
With little emphasis on sets and additional features, the true drama of the characters and playwright's story is able to take center stage.
'[It was difficult] recognizing the hate often created by the prejudice so strong in that time period. Also difficult was creating a character older than myself and trying to understand the Jewish background and her thought process and beliefs coming from a Lutheran upbringing' said Patterson.
' [In black box theater, the audience] has very little to observe beyond the talents and skills of the actors, and the script. Our cast has focused on letting the three characters in Alfred Uhry's Pulitzer Prize-winning play to live honestly, and doing that is very demanding' said Czerbinski.
In addition to the drama caused by prejudice and cultural differences, Driving Miss Daisy also focuses on the overlooked aspect of aging and parental relationships in America.
'We see the process of aging in America. These struggles change the course for families with aging parents and it shows the frustration on Daisy and Boolie's lives as health fails and dementia sets in. Creating this character parallels much of my mother's path through Alzheimer's disease and I remembered how the family had to cope with each day's problems' said Patterson.
'Over time, the characters overcome their respective narrow perceptions, and realize a beautiful relationship that could not have been realized without the shifts in perspectives' added Czerbinski
Driving Miss Daisy will run at the Washington County Playhouse tonight, August 16, 17, 23, September 6, 7, 14, 20 and 21 with one Sunday matinee on August 18. Dinner hour will begin at 6:00 with the show shortly following at approximately 7:30 for evening performances and lunch hour for the matinee performance begins at 1:00 with the show following at approximately 2:30. For more information about the production or to make reservations, call the box office at (301) 739-7469 or visit www.wcpdt.com.
'To see a well written story of humanity and caring, despite prejudice and hate, come take the ride with Miss Daisy and Hoke' said Patterson.
Photo Credit: Washington County Playhouse