Cotton Alley Debuts at Players By The Sea

January 21, 2016 0 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Not only a brilliant, original play from a local talent, but also a theatre that’s encouraging original voices and a cast & crew that are working tirelessly to bring this production to fruition. Challenging, uplifting theatre is all about collaboration and connection. Join Players by the Sea for a tale of redemption and forgiveness. Take a walk through COTTON ALLEY for a reminder that beauty and humor can be mined from the most unlikely, even painful circumstances.

Lucas Hopper in COTTON ALLEY

Written by Olivia Gowan
Directed By Joshua McTiernan

Drawing from her experiences of growing up in the South, This original play by Olivia Gowan creates rhythms of Southern life and language in a story with engaging, richly-drawn characters.  It is both the coming-of-age story of 19-year-old Avery Rose and a tale of redemption for Avery’s wayward, damaged mother Ginger.  Gentle humor and heartfelt insights illuminate this beautifully-written script.
About Olivia Gowan (Playwright)

A fixture on the stages of Players By The Sea Theatre, and the Jacksonville community threatre at large, Gowan adds her writing talents to the growing wave of original, engaging artistry that is currently sweeping through the city’s culture and entertainment scenes.

Olivia discovered the craft in college, and as a 19 year old neophyte scribe, saw her play The Dream Jar produced.

After spending time on the West Coast acting and writing, Gowan moved to Jacksonville where she found a creative home with Players.

Soon after, Gowan bonded with local actors and playwrights to form a writers’ group now known as the Groundling Scribes.

Working through read throughs and workshops, the group also fostered two other productions that have made it to the stage: Kelby Siddons’ To The Sea (in partnership with Players and the Cummer Museum) and Jason Woods’ St. George & the Dragon (appearing first at Christ Episcopal Church and later at the WJCT soundstage).

Cotton Alley, which will be the third original work to see production, is a play about generational forgiveness at a personal and cultural level, set in Georgia.

As Olivia has described it:

"Cotton Alley is an exploration on forgiveness. It begs the questions about how we go about it, the generational time it takes, and the judgement for who and what is worthy of our forgiveness.  You’ll discover that in the town of Pinebrooke there are four needs of healing; the land with its barren soil, the history perpetuating its white guilt and black distrust, the Pearson family filled with its abandonment and shame, and the man who caused that shame. Reconciliation is a beautiful virtue but it comes with a cost, one in which we are all trying to figure out the price.'

'When I began this play ten years, I didn’t sit down and say I was going to write about all those things you just read and send it to Oxford. Please, it was more romantic than that and self-indulgent. It would be like picking up my journal and reading May 19th, 2004. '

'It started with Griff because I wanted to immortalize my sixth grade boy crush who taught me to skateboard. But through years certain lines of Griff’s are from other boyfriends, whose one-liners needed to end up somewhere so I could expose them. Or could the beginning be from an overemotional drunken stupor in Los Angles, when at two o’clock in the morning I wrote Ginger’s monologue as an outcry of injustices and the blend of a memory from a cotton field off of I-75 in Georgia?'

'In any case, the patches of excerpts and their disjointed scenes started to stitch together a story. The threads that held it together were from my own determination and many people with their advice, their instruction, and most importantly their faith in a story that was iffy at times. '

'But that’s the glory of playwriting; it ends up telling you what it is going to be. '

'You just have to fit the pieces into a puzzle, with some help, no doubt. '

(Maybe this would be good time to mention those people who helped me discovery those revelations: the Groundling Scribes, Evelyn Peralta, Kelby Siddons, Dave Gowan, Joe Schwarz, Greg Beastrom, Cathy Holbrooke, Caryl Butterley, Holly Gutshall, Leon Martell, Derek Burke, Joshua McTiernan, Rhodie Jackson, Cameron Pfahler, and my family who always believes in me and is so ready for a production.)"

Carmen Burbridge and Toni Phillips

The Cast:

Avery Rose Pearson: Carmen Burbridge
Ginger Lily Pearson: Karen Overstreet
Laura Gaines: Toni Philips
J.T.: Paul Carelli
Griff Rodgers: Lucas Hopper
Early Eubanks: Isom Steve Philips

January 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 24*, 28, 29, 30

Thursday - Saturday Curtain at 8:00pm
Sunday Curtain* at 2:00pm

General Admission: $23.00
Senior/Student/Military: $20.00
Thursday Nights are Student Nights: 1/2 Price Tix at the Door with a Valid Student I.D.

To make reservations or find out more about the innovative work being done at Players by the Sea check out their website here:

Karen Overstreet and Carmen Burbridge

About Joshua Kreis McTernan (Director)

Joshua Kreis McTiernan is a playwright, director, and devised theater artist. He holds an M.F.A in Theatre from Sarah Lawrence College--- where his play "A Resurrection" recently premiered. Joshua’s other original plays include "The Sidewalk’s End" (Douglas Anderson School of the Arts), "The Red Line" (Players by the Sea), "Our Uncle Eugene" (Downstage Theater) and "The Creationists" (Players by the Sea), which he also directed. His directing credits also include "Lady of Larkspur Lotion" for Melancholy Players, "The Ghosts of Bronxville" for the Bronxville Historical Society, and Tracy Lett’s "Bug" for PBTS. Joshua’s devised solo works "Streetcar Gulag" and "Seven Lives for the Emperor" were both workshopped during his tenure at Sarah Lawrence College. Joshua is a National Arts Finalist, winner of the 2013 Theatre Jacksonville Playwriting Competition, and the recipient of the Stanley and Evelyn Lipkin Prize for Playwriting.

text Cameron Pfahler
additional text by Stephen Dare