Blackberry Daze

Blackberry Daze

We started Live & About’s seventh season throwing our own “opening night” party with friends at Metro Stage.  Following the performance and joined by several others from the audience, there was lively discussion about issues relating to the play. It was clear the work touched many personally. It proved once again that the life of a play or musical takes every single person, artist or watching from the audience, on what composer William Knowles said, “on our own ride.”

I invite all of you to continue the conversation, reflecting on any or all of these questions.

  • Why does the mother Mae Lou not see what is happening to her young daughter Carrie?
  • Why did Director Thomas W. Jones II choose a stylized way of portraying events such as spousal abuse, childbirth, and rape? Did this blur the emotional impact of the story?
  • How did William Knowles music serve the story?

6 comments on “Blackberry Daze”

  1. Susan Galbraith

    The night our group went to see Blackberry Daze I saw that the show resonated with so many people in the audience. The issue of being abused, of knowing someone who has been victimized, and, as many women shared, that as a gender so many are taught to suppress trauma of this kind. Many in the audience start to share their stories. Yes, Duane, the stylization did allow people to “fill in.”
    When I first saw the play, I was unsure why the narrative was split, and why in the middle of a scene run by characters in dialogue with each other gets interrupted by the characters suddenly speaking in the third person suddenly become their own narrator. It felt awkward at times, seeming to interrupt the flow. But as I have thought about it, I think this must have been done very consciously to help give the impression of a character being split in his/her own feelings.
    Also, the song that gets reprised twice, “Save the Sinner,” keeps bringing us back to something like a revival meeting. The characters come together in community, singing to find relief from their “sins.” The very sense of revival is an act of releasing accumulative, generational victimization but also guilt or at least acquiescence.

  2. Albert DuPont

    I have spent the past several days thinking about the amazing performance. I did not expect to be moved as I did. The production brought up for me many issues of society including rape, abuse, violence, gun control, racism just to name the first few. Reflecting now I am drawn to Mae Lou and her unwillingness to see the actions of her husband. Mae Lou was beyond a doubt a loving mother but fear gripped her. I think it is the same fear we see 100 years later as we deal with the same issues. One person mentioned that night that there will always be abuse because there will always be power. I am not sure I believe that. Power is solely rooted in fear. Take away fear you take away power. As brave as people are seen who are powerful, deep down their fear of losing wins over and the mask of power is seen.

    The director’s style is definitely one that told the story without having to show the violence. Well done indeed! I actually thought the use of the table cloth was brilliant. But now I wonder if as audience members are we relieved of responsibility since a table cloth was used. I don’t know the answer. I definitely was impacted by the stories telling.

    The music was nicely performed. I cannot say that the music did anything to add to the story. Don’t get me wrong it was well done; however, the spoken words and the acting truly entered my heart. The stage and the props made the biggest impact for me.

    I look forward to reading other comments.

    Having members of my family who have confronted abuse as a child, I am interested in hearing opinions of others. How did it work for you?

    Be sure to blog and tell us more.

  3. anmt

    This world premiere at Metrostage raised a lot of questions about how as a society we accept and react to difficult issues such as domestic abuse. The stylized portrayal of the more difficult scenes allowed the audience’s imagination to fill in the emotional content and personalize the issues to their experience. The music moved the story forward, but did not overpower it, even the most energetic numbers. The characters expressed hope through song and it paired well with the clippy dialogue.

    • Albert DuPont

      Well stated; however, you have me thinking more about the music. Can you tell me your thinking about why you felt the music moved the story forwars without overpowering it? I thought the whole purpose of music theatre is to tell the story through music. Help me shape my thinking about this issue. I look forward to your insights so I can learn more about the role of music is performances such as this one.

  4. Michael Feldman

    Great example of moving a literary work onto the stage. In particular, I thought that the music was integrated into the exposition of the plot in the staging. The music ranging from ensemble singing to duets showed the interconnected nature of small town life and the need to follow an individual path. Outstanding ensemble acting including strong performances from DC performing arts school Duke Ellington School for the Arts.

    • Albert DuPont


      You have me thinking and I was wondering one’s need to follow an individual path. I am grappling with this issue in my person life so that is why your words strike me. Did the main character at the end follow an individual path or did she run away from the interconnectedness you speak about? There is something about her that makes me think of many folks today especially those I meet from rural parts of our country or places in our country that are not that accepting. I moved away from my home in rural southern Louisiana 25 years ago. As I get older now, I realize that I still feel an obligation to make it a better place. Maybe it is just me so I was interested in hearing more of your thinking. Thanks for helping to stretch my thinking. Albert

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