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Springer Opera House Set To Premiere A New Children's Theatre Play Based On The Life Of Ruby Bridges

Ruby Bridges is an extraordinary 6-year-old who helped shape history when she became the very first African-American sent to first grade in an all-white school.

Springer Opera House Set To Premiere A New Children's Theatre Play Based On The Life Of Ruby Bridges

The Springer Children's Theatre will premiere a new commissioned play, Look Forward: The Ruby Bridges Story, September 30 through October 9 in McClure Theatre at the Springer.

The play is based on the true story of Ruby Bridges, an extraordinary 6-year-old who helped shape history when she became the very first African-American sent to first grade in an all-white school - changing America forever. Set in New Orleans in 1960, Ruby eventually befriends students and teachers and lives out a faith that tells her to stand firm. Look at the world through Ruby's eyes and discover the true promise of America.

"This is a story about how Ruby Bridges showed great faith. Her light (love) drove out darkness (fear)." states director Beth Reeves. "Her parents, Abon and Lucille Bridges, poured so much love into her and it helped display what faith looked like. It was because of their love, prayers, words of affirmation, and hymns sung to soothe her soul that Ruby Was able to develop a lifetime friendship with her teacher, Mrs. Henry. This story is about the power of family, specifically the black family. This powerful story is also about how one is never too small to make a big difference. It's because of this that we are all inspired to look forward!"

The Springer was awarded an educational grant in 2018 from the Georgia Council for the Arts which allowed for the commissioning of Natalia Naman Temegen to write the play.

A local award-winning playwright and screenwriter, her plays have been produced in Atlanta, Boston, Columbus (GA), New York, Philadelphia, and Princeton. She has written TV episodes for Dear White People Season 4 (Netflix), Julia (HBO Max), and the upcoming series Reasonable Doubt (Hulu). She currently serves as a co-producer for Season 2 of Julia (HBO Max).

Natalia was a 2021 Artist in Residence and recipient of the Film Focus Fellowship at Serenbe Institute. She received the American Playwriting Foundation's 2019 "Relentless Award" Honorable Mention for Lawnpeople, a political drama dealing with immigration, identity, and motherhood. The Springer also commissioned and produced her play Ace: The Eugene Bullard Story is an epic bio-play about the first African-American fighter pilot.

"Natalia Temesgen created a script that was deeply interactive, encouraging audience members to enter into Ruby's world while reflecting on their own," shared Springer Director of Education, Sally Baker. "Natalia and I spoke about the format of this play feeling half like a PAIR arts integration lesson and half like a traditional children's theatre performance-- with the full aesthetic of a play but the reflective participation of a class. What she has created accesses both the "learning in the classroom" world and the power of theatre equally, kind of like what Ruby Bridges experienced as a child. She too learned from the classroom but from the transformation of the people around her."

Look Forward: The Ruby Bridges Story has performances on September 30 and October 7 at 7:00 pm, October 1 and 8 at 11:00 am, and October 2 and 9 2022 at 2:30 pm. The show will be performed in McClure Theatre at the Springer, the entrance is located on 1st Avenue, around the corner from the main entrance of the Springer Opera House.

The October 7, 7:00 PM performance also includes a special post show panel discussion with the artistic creators of the show. The panel includes playwright, Natalia Temesgen; show director, Beth Reeves; and Dr. Elizabeth Bussey who was a special consultant to the director on integration in the 1960's through 1970's.

Tickets are $18.00 for adults, $12.00 for children, and $10.00 for Academy students and can be purchased online at springeroperahouse.org or by calling 706-327-3688. The Springer Box Office is open Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 am - 5:30 pm and two hours prior to the show.


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