Online Play Series Features Local Playwright


by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder’s original play “Georgia Mae James Unplugs America” was recently featured in an online play series created in the wake of the coronavirus.

Plays in the House, an extension of the live performance series Stars in the House, is a daily benefit series aimed at raising money for The Actors Fund.

“At the beginning of quarantine, these NY theatre personalities started hosting online live shows with different Broadway performers to raise money for the actors’ fund and it took off. They started doing a series for young audiences and casting Broadway kids to perform in them,” Wilder said. “For the reading of ‘Georgia Mae,’ I was able to use one of our Sewanee students, Kristopher Kennedy, for one of the roles”

Wilder said “Georgia Mae” is about Georgia Mae, who shut down the power grid to get the attention of her siblings while their parents are out. What she didn’t realize is that shutting down the grid left her parents stranded in the city. The story unfolds as the siblings attempt to restore power and bring their parents home.

Kristopher Kennedy, an English major and theatre fellow at the University, said his role was to serve as a narrator of sorts, providing context for the audience.

“I play a radio announcer and an engineer. It’s quite a lot of fun figuring out how to transition between these different characters in a single show, and a great gift from the playwright to have the freedom to do so. As an actor, it gives me lots of room to try and make interesting choices,” he said. “I made a point to delete all my social media during quarantine to really take advantage of this suddenly abundant gift of free time. There is much bliss to be had these days, and I think ‘Georgia Mae’ draws attention to the many creative ways in which we can pursue bliss without any sort of distractions.”

Wilder said that pursuit is exactly what she hoped to accomplish with “Georgia Mae.”

“Art has always been reflective of our experiences, that holds a mirror up to our society, asks big questions, serves as an escape. I’m curious to see how art not only reflects the crisis but also the gifts that have come out of it, the building of community, the chance for peaceful reflection, appreciation for the simpler things in our lives that happen when we are no longer going to work and going to school. I think acknowledging the different experiences and reflecting that in the art we create and hold.”

“Georgia Mae James Unplugs America” was read in Sewanee in February of this year. The video of the reading will be available on the Plays in the House website for a limited time. For more information about Plays in the House, visit .www.starsinthehouse.com