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Local play depicts slaves’ struggle

African-Americans paid price for freedom

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POSTED: May 6, 2011 9:25 a.m.
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Donald Lovette

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Love-It-Productions will perform a play this weekend that pays homage to the ultimate sacrifice many African-Americans paid for freedom and to strong mothers who persevered despite slavery.
“Ebenezer Creek: One More River to Cross,” written by local playwright and historian Donald Lovette, will be presented at 6 p.m. Saturday, May 7, and 5 p.m. Sunday, May 8, at the Liberty County Performing Arts Center in Flemington.
Tickets cost $10 for general admission and $20 for VIP seating. Playgoers who buy five or more tickets will get one free ticket.
“Ebenezer Creek is a location in Effingham County where hundreds of freed black slaves were abandoned during Gen. Sherman’s march during the American Civil War,” Lovette said. “After the army had crossed over on pontoons, the commander in charge of the crossing, Brig. Gen. Jefferson C. Davis, cut them loose, leaving the escaped slaves on the other side. Many drowned while trying to cross over.” 
Lovette’s play is a dramatization of this local historical incident. The Liberty County native has written a string of plays based on the local black history of Liberty County and surrounding areas. He said this serious play took him two weeks to compose.
“This production is a link to slave life in South Georgia and much of the South, where the slaves always seem to have ‘One More River to Cross,’” Lovette said.
The playwright said he was familiar with the story, but his interest in the grievous event at Ebenezer Creek was renewed when former Georgia Secretary of Labor Michael Thurmond helped dedicate a historical marker in Effingham County last year to commemorate the tragedy.
“This story is similar to that of Liberty County native Susie King Taylor in that it tells of the African-American experience in the Civil War,” Lovette said. “The script speaks to slaves’ quest for freedom, even if it meant risking their lives and the dynamics of the slave family. It gives face and voice to the nameless number of slaves lost at Ebenezer Creek. “
It is not a musical, he said, but the Negro spiritual, “Jordan River, I’m Bound to Cross” is the play’s theme song.
“The refrain ends with ‘I’ve got one more river — in this case, Ebenezer Creek — to cross,” Lovette
said.
The play’s cast includes veteran actors Ritchie Anderson, Larry Baker, Randy Knox, Celia Milledge, Ann K. Baker, Charolette L. Norman, Sideeq Heard, Carolyn Simmons and Kenny Howard. 
Simmons, who plays an older slave and mother named Missy, said this is her fifth play with Love-It-Productions. She said this particular story affected her greatly.
“That character doesn’t leave me right after the play. I’m still in that state of mind,” Simmons said.
She said she read the play many times to put herself in her character’s scarred and weathered skin and experience Missy’s hardships and sacrifice.
“I just keep reading it over and over. Every time I read it, I get a different insight,” she said. “I put myself in that place … with the gunshots and the running and the hiding — the running for freedom.”
To buy tickets, call Andrew Williams at 977-3293 or Donald Lovette at 312-0669.

 

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