Playwright Jireh Breon Holder is currently premiering his award winning play Too Heavy for Your Pocket on the Hertz Stage which is apart of The Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta, GA. The drama gives a snapshot look at a group of friends living in rural Nashville, TN during the time period of the Freedom Riders.
Bowzie, played by Stephen Ruffin, has just been accepted to Fisk University. Bowzie's wife Evelyn, played by Eboni Flowers, is super proud of her smart husband and is hoping that this new opportunity can take her out of the local night clubs singing night after night. Tony, played by Rob Demery, is Bowzie's hard-working best friend who has a history of stepping out on his wife Sally, played by Markita Prescott. The two couples deal with hard life lessons when Bowzie decides he wants to join the Freedom Riders on a bus to New Orleans instead of getting an education.
This play is beautifully written. Holder really gives the viewer an inside look into the homes and hearts of people during the civil rights movement. The characters and the dialog is extremely rich and powerful. Several times during the performance the audience is pulled into the play. A literal 'Amen corner'. Strong themes of love, family, identity, and justice are weaved throughout the two hour show. Holder explains that the play was inspired by a conversation with his grandmother about the Freedom Riders and the current Black Lives Matter movement. He wanted to explore the question of choosing to participate in large political movements or choosing higher education.
Playwright Holder is the 2017 winner of the Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwright Competition. The award allows the winner to produce a fully staged production in the 200 seat Hertz Stage apart of the Alliance Theatre. The program's mission is to nurture and launch young playwrights. One of the most notable alumni of the program is Tarell Alvin McCraney. His play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue inspired the current Oscar nominated movie Moonlight. Holder will put on another play titled The Dancing Granny late summer at the Alliance. The play is based on the children's book The Dancing Granny by author/illustrator Ashley Bryan.
Tickets to the show can be purchased here.