Theater Prepares to Perform Strange Fruit



Contributing Writer

The production of the theatrical play, Strange Fruit, at Piedmont College is under way.  This is the first theatrical show opening this semester’s theater season, promising two-and-a-half hours of intense drama for Piedmont students, faculty, staff and Demorest residents to enjoy. 

Based on Lillian E. Smith’s original same-titled novel published in 1944, Strange Fruit deals with the forbidden and controversial theme of interracial romance back in the time after World War I. The story follows the life of Tracy Deen, a prominent white man, who falls in love with a beautiful, intelligent and accomplished black woman, Nonnie Anderson.

On Aug. 20, about 37 Piedmont students filled the Swanson Center auditioning for this historical drama piece written by Smith. The production was adapted and directed by guest director Thom Fogarty. 

Students auditioning showed up on the Swanson’s Mainstage performing a two-minute audition piece thatconsisted of a dramatic contemporary monologue and a song from the 1930s or the 1940s. Audition judges included Fogarty, the head of theater department professor Bill Gabelhausen, the choir director Nic Johnson and the stage manager Gabriel Slusser. The show’s cast features seventeen actors.

Gabelhausen said he is proud to announce this theatrical piece to Piedmont College students. 

“I am incredibly excited about Strange Fruit being staged within our theatre department.  This powerful piece of theatre will challenge us in a wonderful way as performers, designers, technicians and future educators.  I am equally excited about our students being able to work with our guest director from New York City, Tom Fogarty,” said Gabelhausen.

After the Theatre Department welcomed the guest director, Fogarty said, “I am very thrilled to bring back this historical piece on stage after 70 years at Piedmont since this will be its first production after the only Original Broadway Production Royale Theatre back in 1945. I think that the Theater Department at Piedmont College is amazing, and I like the physical environment and the working conditions.”  

Fogarty wants to prepare the audience for this 150 minute drama. 

“Unfortunately, I think the play’s theme is almost more   needed now than it was back in 1945 in terms of race relations.  I want the audience to be moved, I want them to reflect and I want them to not be complacent to realize that there is still work that has to be done in that field,” Fogarthy said. 

The casting list is coming out soon. The show is set to premiere on Oct. 1 at Swanson’s Center Mainstage at 7:30 p.m.