BOYCOTT: Pulaski, Tennessee

‘BOYCOTT: Pulaski, Tennessee and the Legacy of the Ku Klux Klan’ is a combined verbatim and research project by David Alford. The rights of the play were given to Marten Methodist College; the director, Dr Melissa Merchant was trusted by them and kindly allowed to use the script.
This event was presented by Theatre in Society Group at Murdoch University. It is a Documentary Theatre performance by the students of EGL255. This play was rehearsed and about to be presented by last year’s class when COVID struck. Realising the powerful and important nature of the subject, the director decided to get a new cast of students and represent the play this year. We should be most grateful that she did, as this was an important and special production.
The 2-hour production was presented at the Nexus Theatre, near car park 3 in the grounds of Murdoch University. As it was their final show the tickets were free of charge but booked in advance for all three performances on the 3rd to 5th June. It was good to see so many ex-students turning up for the productions, showing their fondness for Murdoch

Pulaski, Tennessee has lived under a dark cloud for years with the reputation of being the home of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), but many people don’t know the full story.
After years of taunts, the citizens of Pulaski and Giles County stood united on October 7, 1989, against hate, discrimination, and inequality. They came together as one to boycott the annual march of the KKK and Aryan Brotherhood. Pulaski stood up and said NO more.

Set construction: by John King. Most of the props were white 60 cms cubes – or multiples thereof. The cast used them as Lego block to create seats, barriers, and podia.
Lighting design: John King’s lighting plan was colourful and well thought out.
Lighting operator: Alex Banham had plenty of quick changes but managed them all faultlessly.
Sound recording and editing: Tim Brain produced some great effects.
Sound operator: Smooth changes in sound by Dylan Pointon
Video recording George Butterworth and Ben Parrott
Front of House display and management Jay Doran.
Stage managers: Daniel Thompson and Hannah Terpsis were remarkably busy. With such a large cast and many costume changes it could have been pandemonium, but the cast moved freely.
Props Carmel Fox and Jaimee Gardner
PR Tiarn Hutton
Photography Zac Preedy and Tiffany Banner
Poster design Carmen Greyvenstein

There were 17 rapid fire scenes, but with fine rehearsal the cast moved silently to their next marks. The complex ensemble work flowed smoothly with each actor poised ready for

Bob Henry (Zac Preedy)
Wendy Hibdon (Jaimee Gardner)
J.B. Smith (Fred Sutantio)
Judy Pruett (Jemma Kuchel)
Mitchell Birdsong (Simon Moody)
Dan Speer (Celine See)
Keith Rost (Carmen Greyvenstein)
Joe Henry (Ben Parrott)
Pulaski citizens’ voices (Sam Wedgewood, Sarah Courtis)
Interviewer (Andrew Kocsis)
Thom Robb (Brandon De Sousa)
Rachel Pendergraft (Jemma Kuchel)
Gary Kelly (Sarah Courtis, Jay Doran)
Bettie Higgins (Tiarn Hutton)
Ken Vickers (Kathryn Vincent)
Local voices (Sam Wedgewood, Carmel Fox, Zac Preedy)
Student (Celine See)
William McNairy (Eddie Stowers, Rhys Evans)
Stanley Newton (Fed Sutantio)
John White (Carmel Fox)
Meredith Newbill (Jaimee Gardner)
Don Massey (Ben Parrott)
Los Angeles Times voice (Kathryn Vincent)
Bill Rutherford (Tiarn Hutton)
Butch Sutton (George Butterworth)
Ray Rost (George Butterworth)
Amber Brown (Carmen Greyvenstein)

An exceptional standard of performance from such a young cast. With a foreign accent, fast complex movement, happiness followed by terror, their powerful clear diction and meaningful body language was inspiring.
Accent coach Sarah Courtis stepped in at the last minute and has done a great job especially with the size of the cast.
The costumes by Jemma Kuchel were true to America across the whole of the Twentieth Century. Each actor had at least a couple of costume changes. The dozens of outfits being stored on racks at the rear of the stage. Costume assistant, Tiffany Banner with guidance from Sonya McNichol coped very well.
Congratulations to director Melissa and whole class of Theatre and Society, for a drama that started as a pleasant local business club meeting, continuing through the traumatic years of bigotry and murder, to an ending with hope for an integrated and balanced community in the future; truly uplifting and rousing. A massive challenge – be proud.

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