2012-03-07 / Front Page

Swamp Gravy Searches Out Solid Ground

by Will Murdock

Veteran cast member Scott " Moose" Moore embraces new actor, Preston Clenney, in a scene from Solid Ground. Veteran cast member Scott " Moose" Moore embraces new actor, Preston Clenney, in a scene from Solid Ground. For the past few weeks, the cast of Georgia’s Official Folk-Life Play, Swamp Gravy, has been trying to find sure footing in their roles on stage. The production, which stages true stories from the community every October and March, has been on hiatus since its initial run in October.

The title of this year’s production is Swamp Gravy: Solid Ground. The play explores what the term “solid ground” can mean— having a shoulder to cry on, friends to laugh with, and even the support of the community. Longtime cast member and former Storytelling Museum curator Charlotte Phillips says, “Solid Ground to me is Home, Faith, and Love. Home, because when the sun goes down, there is a place to take your rest, beyond the bonds of this earth. Faith because when you get to the end of yourself there is a higher power always waiting. Love because no matter your circumstance, love is alive and eternal.”

This year’s show, the 19th production of Swamp Gravy, was written by Georgia born writer Tom Poland and directed by Illinois-based director Phil Funkenbusch. Funkenbusch recalls reading about Swamp Gravy in a theater quarterly in the early 1990s and later heard Swamp Gravy’s founding director, Richard Geer, speak at a conference. Funkenbusch said, “I was immediately focused in to what he was talking about because I'd grown up in very small towns in Missouri and Illinois and had a storefront theater project in Havana, Illinois, for several years. All these years later that storefront theater project still ranks up at the top of my theater experiences, and that was why I applied to direct the play in Colquitt.”

While in Colquitt, Funkenbusch ate boiled peanuts for the first time and saw his first cotton and peanut fields. But what left the biggest impression on Funkenbusch’s mind was the time he spent with the cast, “I fell in love with all the great food, the sweet tea, and, of course, the people of the town. The care and concern everyone shows for each other is very real. I loved being in the company of those people. I realized I was basking in the warmth. Another memory I have is of laughter, such great laughers in the cast!”

Swamp Gravy's Solid Ground will be performed Friday, March 9, through Saturday, March 31. Friday performances begin at 7:30 p.m. with Saturday matinees beginning at 2:00 and 5:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at: www.swampgravy.com or by phone at 1-800-514- 3849. Colquitt ticketing locations include the Bride and Gift Gallery, Market on the Square, and the Colquitt Miller County Chamber of Commerce.

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