"GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Bennett Players presents “Up All Night,” a stage adaptation of “Anna May and the Preacher: A Collection of Short Stories” by Theresa Bennett-Wilkes on April 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. in The Little Theatre at Bennett College. The event is free and open to the public. The Box Office opens 30 minutes before curtain.
A talk back with the author and performers will occur after both performances. Signed books from the author will also be available.
The adaptation is performed by Jovelyn Richards, visiting performance artist, writer and host of Pacifica Radio, 94.1 FM in the San Francisco Bay area. Some of the scenes in the adaptation are performed by Bennett students who are enrolled in a “Voice for Actors” class taught by Elisabeth Ritson-Lavender, an assistant professor of theater at Bennett College. Among the students participating are: Clyje Armstrong, Cyera Bonner, Ashley Riddick, Tyana Gladders, Britni Allen, Janae Peats and Stephani Hunter.
Ritson said this is her class’ first attempt at this style of performance and the effort has turned into a class project.
“Our students are excited about their role in the performance and are intrigued by the stories in Ms. Bennett-Wilkes book,” said Ritson-Lavender. “We are expecting a really fun night of improvisation performance. Students will sing, dance, shop for church clothing and more. They will be acting out the narrative. Mrs. Bennett-Wilkes has a wonderful voice in which she writes. It is more of a specific tone to time and place.”
According to Richards, students will read the short story “Anna May and the Preacher” and during planned bookmarks, Richards will come to life with improvisational performances. In addition, students have picked several scenes within the story to bring to life through their own perspectives.
“The goal is to have an understanding between the characters and the audience,” said Richards. “We are going to read between the lines and create characters.
Richards calls the process “performance literature and improvisation.” “It is the first time that I believe this type of performance is being done.”
Richards is a writer and performance artist specializing in improvisational narratives. She uses music to add another dimension to her performances. She taught and performed improvisational narratives for Hungarian musicians at Central Eastern University. She served as adjunct faculty at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology and as a community educator for the California Institute of Integral Studies. She performed at the National Black Theatre Festival, Winston-Salem, NC, in 2013 where she received rave reviews.
“I am excited and curious to see where it takes me as an author,” said Bennett-Wilkes. “It is humbling that my work made the kind of impression where Ms. Richards wanted to do the show.”
Bennett-Wilkes is a published, and self-published, author residing in High Point, N.C. She grew up in California’s San Francisco Bay Area. She is a second-generation Bennett Belle who is a member of Bennett’s Class of ’72. Prior to becoming an author and freelance writer, Bennett-Wilkes spent more than 20 years as an urban planner in the U.S. and England. She is an adjunct professor of communications at Guilford Technical Community College, Jamestown, N.C. She earned a B.A. in history from Bennett College and completed a master of urban planning degree at the University of Washington, Seattle."
- A Press Release