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Spring Theatrical Production: A Lesson Before Dying

Loyola press release - February 4, 2003

(New Orleans)--A powerful and moving drama based on an acclaimed novel will be the first spring production of the Loyola Department of Drama and Speech. A Lesson Before Dying by Romulus Linney, based on the novel by Ernest Gaines, will play in Marquette Theater on February 21-22 and March 13-16. Lane Savadove will direct.

A Lesson Before Dying takes place in 1940s rural Louisiana. The play tells the story of a black teenager from Louisiana, who in 1948 is condemned to death for a murder he did not commit. His godmother asks the schoolteacher from their plantation to teach her “baby” to “walk like a man” in the face of the white repression that is sending him to die in the electric chair. As execution day draws near, the teacher struggles with his own conflicted emotions about what he is teaching the young man: is it better to accept the idea of an all powerful God and focus on heaven or to fight for equality here in Louisiana. The give-and-take of their relationship creates an engrossing and devastating drama, as the boundary between student and teacher becomes blurred.

This play was originally developed through the Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s Southern Writers’ Project. “It’s actually one of the most intense theatrical experiences I’ve encountered. I don’t want this to be a nice romantic story where all turns rosy in the end. Racism is violent, dirty and deeply imbedded into the lives of both the blacks and whites. I’m thrilled to bring this story to life on Loyola’s stage,” says Savadove.

Due to Mardi Gras, A Lesson Before Dying will run at 8 p.m. on February 21 and 22, and again on March 13,14, and 15. Tickets are $10 general admission, $7 for students and seniors. Group rates are available. For more information, call 865-3824.