Sunday, March 31, 2019

Carolina Playmakers Featured Three One-Act Plays by Sparrow, Wolfe, Lay, March 28, 1919

From The Tar Heel, Chapel Hill, N.C., March 28, 1919

Carolina Playmakers in Initial Program Score Great Success. . . In Well-Balanced Program of Three One-Act Plays

The Carolina Playmakers gave two very successful performances of original Folk Plays in the Play House Friday and Saturday nights, March 15 and 16. The program consisted of three one-act plays: “What Will Barbara Say?” by Miss Minnie Sparrow; “The Return of Bick Gavin” by Thomas Wolfe; and “When Witches Ride” by Miss Elizabeth Lay.

The first play is a clever comedy of college life at Carolina, with pretty co-eds, lovelorn students, moonlight in the arboretum, and the spirit of youthful love which succeeds in ensnaring all except Barbara, who is the leader of the cause of the women versus the men. Naturally this play made a strong appeal to the Carolina men who packed the house on both nights.

“The Return of Buck Gavin” struck an entirely different note. Here was the tragedy of a mountaineer outlaw who returns to his home in order to put a flower on the grave of his old friend, knowing full well that in doing so he will be caught by the revenue officers. This apparently trivial incident was very well handled by Mr. Wolfe as the basis for a wonderfully gripping bit of character study and mountaineer psychology. It got across to the audience too. There was no trace of the tendency often seen in college audiences of laughing at the serious moments. The average man in the audience will probably remember this play for many a day.

“When Witches Ride” is best described by the word tremendous. This play of old folk superstition in Northampton County was trilling, absolutely took your breath away. Miss Lay has appealed to the sense of mystery and superstition in every one of us and succeeded in making us live and feel with the superstitious old country folk of the past Every trick of dramatic technique is skillfully used to produce the atmosphere, but the technique is so artfully hidden that only the person of critical mind would think of it; and the effect upon the spectator is to thrill him by the mystery and weirdness of the thing. Mrs. Leavitt’s interpretation of the role of the witch was acting of a high order of excellence. Mr. Denny as the boasting old engineer was also very good. This play was a fitting climax to a strong program.

The acting in all three plays was excellent on the whole; and the artistic effect of the production was enhanced by beautiful scenery and costumes, complicated lighting and stage effects, and appropriate incidental music.

The production as a whole marks the beginning of a new epoch in dramatic and literary activities at Carolina. The reign of amateurishness in dramatics is over. The great success of these performances have demonstrated the real artistic possibilities of a community organization working under capable and enthusiastic leadership. Doubtless, after such a good beginning, Professor Koch will go on to make even greater triumphs for his Playmakers.

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