‘A Town Divided’ looks into Tallahassee’s racial dynamics


A unique Southern Shakespeare Company production will examine the racial divides in Tallahassee through a performance event sponsored by Tallahassee Community College as part of their African-American History Month Calendar and with grant support from the Council on Cultural Arts, State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, the Hagen Family Foundation, and the Leon County School Board.

“A Town Divided,” an original production based loosely on William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 12 and 13 at Turner Auditorium. The 55-minute one-act play is written from interviews and stories from Tallahassee residents.

The production invites participants to examine their own biases and prejudices in an effort to raise social awareness, increase tolerance, and bridge the divide through cross-racial dialogue.

There will be a special opening night reception and silent auction sponsored by Black History Month Festival at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12.

The play is directed by Bert Mitchell and contains mature subject matter.

There will be opportunities for Leon County School students to experience this event with daytime performances sponsored by the Leon County School Board. To schedule a school visit (to be held at TCC Feb. 12-14), contact Robin Jackson at robin@southernshakes.org.

Tickets for the Wednesday Opening Night Reception and Auction (which includes the performance) are $25. General admission for the performance (only) Wednesday and Thursday are $15 and $10 for students/seniors. For ticket information, contact Southern Shakespeare Company at laura@southernshakes.org.

The Friday matinee show or Leon County School students will feature a special talk-back session which will include local officials and leaders, with an introduction by TCC President Jim Murdaugh.

The moderator will be Andrea Oliver and panelists will be Mayor John E. Dailey, Commissioner Curtis Richardson, Commissioner Kristin Dozier, Sheriff Walt McNeil, Dr. Kermit Harrison, Christic A. Henry, Marcus Nicolas, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, TCC; Contributing Writer and Editor, A Town Divided, Bert Mitchell, Director, A Town Divided and Cast of A Town Divided.

If you go

What: “A Town Divided”

When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 12-13

Where: TCC’s Turner Auditorium, 444 Appleyard Drive

Tickets: $25-10; visit southernshakespearefestival

‘A Town Divided’ explores racism in Tallahassee


Cast and production crew having a Q&A session after play. Taken by Lindsey Britton

The Southern Shakespeare Company and Tallahassee Community College partnered to put on a play inspired by Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” which takes the stories of Tallahassee residents to address issues involving racism.

It was a night filled with emotions at every spectrum. The audience at Thursday’s performance at Turner Auditorium had no choice but to look at the racial divide and process the play, “A Town Divided.”
It follows two young lovers with different environments and lifestyles. With the help of a giant projector, “A Town Divided” was able to use pictures of Tallahassee and other effects to bring a story from the past to the present day.

Living on “different sides of the track,” the young lovers fight to stay together while their families try to keep them apart.

Bert A. Mitchell, the director and one of the writers of the play, talked about why they used the stories of the Tallahassee community while employing “Romeo and Juliet” as a muse.

“What started it was that an article said that Tallahassee was one of the most segregated cities in the united states, ” Mitchell said. “So using Shakespeare and the arts they (Southern Shakespeare Company) felt that this was an opportunity to mix them both, to create this dialogue, and so by getting people to tell their stories and interweaving stories into the play of the themes they talked about is very universal.”

Mitchell even went into detail on his experiences being followed around the store just because of the color of his skin and how segregated the past was.

Yolanda Grant, a recent resident of Tallahassee, talked about her experience and thoughts on the play.

“I mostly got that we’re living in 2020 now, that racism is in the past and to come together as people, ” Grant said. “I feel like we need to come together and learn about our history. Just come together and be open-minded. ”

Liane Giroux, the producer of the play and a Tallahassee native, talked about the importance of the arts for children and having more funds in schools for things like music and theater. The Southern Shakespeare Company does a lot for the community, she said.

“I think their commitment to being involved with theater for a change. Where there is a push to do shows that reinforce the need for social change, that they are continually doing education outreach to schools that are undeserved or may not have the exposure to the arts, Shakespeare and theater,” Giroux said. “When you work with the kids, and you see them in these settings, there still is a great interest in theatre. I think it’s not a lack of interest but a lack of exposure.”

Through technology and theater, “A Town Divided” brought a range of people, at different ages with diverse backgrounds, and changed the way they see their community.

Making Light Productions and Southern Shakespeare’s Bardlings Youth Company Announce Partnership

[Tallahassee, FL / Sept. 11, 2019] Making Light Productions is delighted to announce a partnership with Southern Shakespeare Company’s Bardlings Youth Company for the 2019-2020 theatre season. This new partnership will allow Making Light Productions to provide a “home” theatre for the company to rehearse twice per week, and the Bardlings – under the direction of Robin Jackson – will facilitate a weekly acting class for Making Light students, “Much Ado About Acting” on Wednesdays, 4:30 – 5:30 PM. In addition, the Bardlings’ winter showcase will take place at the Making Light Theatre 7:00 PM December 6-7, 2019.

“Everyone at Making Light is so excited about this partnership,” says executive director Juliet Yaques, “because the missions of our nonprofits align so perfectly. Southern Shakespeare Company, through the Bardlings, provides exceptional theatre education for young people. Also, the professional company has made a mission of ensuring that the arts belong to all through their amazing performances, from A Town Divided to A Mini-Midsummer Night’s Dream to their annual Spring Free Shakespeare Festival. We are proud to be partnered with such a prestigious organization.”

About Making Light Productions
Making Light Productions is a 501c3 nonprofit with the mission of providing the highest quality inclusive performing arts education to children, teens and adults of all abilities – as well as jobs to teens and adults with disabilities. Established in 2016, MLP offers private lessons, group classes, day and summer camps and workshops in theatre, music, dance and art. In 2019, the Making Light Theatre opened — a fully accessible 100-seat performance space designed to ensure that all performances are inclusive of all performers.

About Southern Shakespeare Company and The Bardlings
Established in 2014, the mission of Southern Shakespeare Company (SSC) is to make Shakespeare accessible and fun, cultivate an appreciation of the arts through educational programs, training, and their annual free Shakespeare in the Park Festival.

The Bardlings are the junior acting troupe of SSC and an integral part of SSC’s professional instruction, education and training mission, seeking to develop an understanding and fondness for the study and performance of Shakespeare and classic drama in today’s youth.

“Our goal is to develop a comprehension of Shakespeare’s classics, while also ensuring that our young artists truly enjoy the subject matter and have fun in the process,” shared Robin Jackson, Southern Shakespeare’s Director of Education. “Through exciting and innovative productions, open workshops, and community theatre based field trips, we seek to engage students and foster dialogue regarding the importance of the creative arts in our schools, our communities and our lives.”

Mandi Broadfoot, Managing Director
Making Light Productions

Robin Jackson, Director
SSC Bardlings Youth Company
Samantha Strickland

Direct: (850) 321-3688 | Office: (844) 457-7655
124 Marriott Drive
Suite 103-104
Tallahassee, FL 32301
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