Mississippi’s Professional Theatre Aims to Keep the Culture of the State Alive on The Stage

Mississippi’s diverse past is portrayed in New Stage’s most recent production, a contemporary play titled Hell in High Water written by Marcus Gardley.

Greenville, Miss. streets during the Great Flood, taken from Miss. Archives

Mississippi Archives

Greenville, Miss. streets during the Great Flood, taken from Miss. Archives

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New Stage Theatre provides a professional level of theatre that is used to entertain and educate a diverse audience about the craft itself and the rich history of Miss.

 

New Stage Theatre, located in Jackson, Miss., is the only professional theatre in the state. Since establishment in 1965, New Stage has provided a professional level of theatre and acting that any one attending can find enjoyment in.

 

New Stage shows five different plays a year. These plays vary from western classics to new age, fresh on the scene productions. The range of productions put on at New Stage Theatre creates an atmosphere that appeals to the diverse population seen in the state of Mississippi

 

While providing this professional level of theatre is one of their goals, New Stage’s main goal is to keep the rich history of Miss. alive on the stage, educating the audience on Mississippi’s past—a past that mirrors the diverse population seen today.

 

Mississippi’s diverse past is portrayed in New Stage’s most recent production, a contemporary play titled Hell in High Water written by Marcus Gardley. This play explores the cultural heritage of the Mississippi Delta in 1927, the year when the often-forgotten Great Flood occurred.

 

The scope of Hell in High Water ranges from prejudice suffered by African Americans to the complex position of homosexual love in the South.

 

Set in Greenville, Miss., the play begins with a traditional blues song, sung by Vasti Jackson. This Grammy nominated singer/songwriter sets the tone for the entire play with this song full of warnings about the dangerous nature of the Mississippi River.

 

The song is followed by a monologue explaining the history of the river and the Delta, specifically Greenville. Soon after this opening scene, the levee breaks leaving the town of Greeneville impoverished, especially the African American community.

 

The play spans over 52 days, during which the plight of the African American community grows even worse, while the position of the white community improves. Although the communities are in two different positions of health and wellness, they both feel the hardships brought upon the Delta by the Great Flood.

 

Hell in High Water also discusses the Great Migration, a historical event that completely changed the shape of many U.S. cities. The Great Migration is portrayed as a chance for long-suffering African Americans to escape the prejudice of the south and uses the city of Chicago as a beacon of hope.

 

The effect this migration has on the landscape and agriculture business in the Delta is also included.

 

New Stage Theatre uses this play to echo their mission of keeping the history of Miss. alive through theatre and providing the audience with information about the past that is often overlooked or forgotten.

 

Aside from putting on educational and entertaining plays, the theatre also creates opportunities for those who are interested pursuing a career on the stage.  This education program is one of the newest additions and it provides acting classes and live drama tours for high school students.

 

Beyond these classes and tours, New Stage Theatre’s education department provides an internship program for aspiring actors. These actors, whether still in college or fresh out of it, are provided with opportunities to hone their skills on the stage through exposure and direct learning under professional actors.

 

New Stage theatre seeks to preserve the art of theatre in Miss. and provide the audience with an experience both entertaining and educational that keeps the heritage of the state alive on the stage.

 

For more information on show dates, upcoming plays, and other inquiries visit their website: http://newstagetheatre.com/

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