The Southern Miss Department of Theatre will be showing their newest play “Bulrusher” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 22 at Hartwig Theatre.
The Pulitzer Prize-nominated play written by Eisa Davis follows mixed-race orphan and fortune teller Bulrusher in 1955 and takes place in the Californian town of Boonville.
Director of “Bulrusher” William Shannon Bain said he believes the play has important themes for actors of color to showcase.
“It is very timely even though it is set in 1955. Of course it talks about civil rights, but it also talks about police brutality, abortion and same sex attraction,” Bain said.
The play was chosen by committee over a year ago according to Bain. “[Bulrusher] is a very important piece for our department. It was chosen specifically to highlight actors of color because we have an amazing group of actors of color,” Bain said. “We work on a lot of plays that allow that voice to be heard. We do colorblind casting in our department, so, of course, everybody is in those, but [Bulrusher] is specifically addressing things that are important to minority communities.”
Senior theatre performance major Lorena Cohea plays the titular character of Bulrusher. “[Bulrusher] is kinda mean, kinda sassy, but she has a big heart. She is honestly just looking for her home and who she is,” Cohea said.
“This show means a ton to me because of this character. She is a mixed girl in the 1950s, learning about being someone of color and not really realizing that race is that big of a deal,” Cohea said. “That is something that I dealt with growing up mixed myself, so I was able to connect to the character very well.”
With a cast of six people, the actors have become intimate. Junior theatre major Detalion Dixon, who is playing the role of Logger, said that Logger is the glue of the play. “[Logger] is a very important person because each character in the play has some sort of connection to him and his arch as a character. As he grows as a character the rest of the play grows,” Dixon said.
Bain added that the character of Logger is interesting to him because he is a black man in the backwoods of California, but he is treated like everyone else in the play. “They don’t see him as a person of color, and I feel like the playwright did that on purpose,” Bain said.
Freshman theatre major Nathaniel Jones said his character Boy represented the growth of his acting skills.
“Boy is symbolic of a lot for me,” Jones said. “I have been acting for a little bit. I went to the Mississippi School of the Arts for high school, and I did theatre there, but getting here and doing Boy, I walked into it thinking I knew what I was doing. Not thinking I was the best ever, but thinking I had a handle on how to do this work,” Jones said.
Bain stressed that alhough the play is for mature audiences, he does not think that it should scare audiences away, claiming it to be a life-changing play and with something there for everyone.
“Bulrusher” will also be performed at 7:30 p.m. on March 23 and 24 and March 27 and 28 at 7:30 p.m. A matinee showing will be held at 2 p.m. on March 25 with a pre-performance talk at 1 p.m.