Christine, ashes, love, overcome their fate
Set in Prairie View Trailer Park, located in Paynesville, The Acrosstown Repertory's Theatre's production of Trailer Park Elegy has many North Florida, Gainesville, and Paynes Prairie area influences, even referencing TV20. Written and directed by Michael Presley Bobbitt the play was inspired when a friend of Mr. Bobbitt's, who worked in a trailer park, found a box of ashes sitting on a shelf in a maintenance shed.
"You're a writer, I bet you can do something with this," the friend said handing the ashes to Michael.
"And so I did," Michael said contemplating his Trailer Park Elegy premiere..
And this theatre lover, for one, is glad he did.
Acrosstown Repertory Theatre's Seasoning Opening production and world premiere of Trailer Park Elegy received its first reading at the ART's Gainesville Homegrown Local Playwrights' Showcase last year.
This ART production was thought provoking for me thinking about the massive divisiveness in the world right now politically, and socially. Trailer Park Elegy compelled me to look for the value in all corners of my world, including in my own personal space complete with external monsters. Monsters that can be found in the worst of all of us
The story unfolds with Elijah (Michael Glover) escaping his past by taking a job managing Prairie View Trailer Park. He finds the cremated remains of Christine Ellison, abandoned on a shelf. Elijah is excited to uncover the mystery of who she was, how she died, and why her ashes were left on a shelf.
Elijah brings the ashes home and presents them to his wife Sarah (Marival Parish). Sarah is less than thrilled about a dead lady on her dining table, but is soon won over by Elijah's enthusiasm.
Sarah agrees to assist Elijah in uncovering the mystery of Christine. Joining Elijah and Sarah on this adventure are Elijah's coworkers Kate (Mandy Fugate), above, and Mario (Scott Gross), along with long-time Prairie View resident Sham Sham (Shamrock McShane).
Kate, lover of all things weird, is excitedly fondling the ashes. Mario is hardworking and loyal, willing to help however he can. Sham Sham, riding his Razor scooter all over the trailer park, knows everything about everyone, because he cares about everyone.
Chuck Lipsig adds character to Prairie View Trailer Park by playing three roles in Trailer Park Elegy:
CHEN, eccentric cat-loving Prairie View resident, who works at the grocery store across the street and feeds all 95 stray cats living at the trailer park.
LIPSIG, eccentric creator that has recently decided to reduce waste and give purpose to the dead by cooking roadkill.
MAYOR PALMER, recently elected gay mayor of Paynesville, who wears a fabulous purple suit (complete with purple glasses and shoes).
When Mario asks Sham Sham about the deceased lady, Sham Sham tells him that he didn't really know her but that she was a mean and hateful racist. He also mentions that she had an old shed that is still locked. Mario and Elijah break into the shed. Elijah is clearly upset by what he has uncovered, but shoos Mario away before revealing an old klan robe.
Later, during an eight minute monologue to his goat Mabel (Mabel), Sham Sham confesses that he was obsessed with Christine. He admits to Mabel that Christine would have him wear a klan robe during their intimate encounters. He also mentions that she wanted to join the klan but that it was hard to get into at the time, especially for a woman.
Prior to discovering that Christine is far from a saint, Sarah has arranged to throw a service for the deceased, and has already alerted the media (TV20). No one wants to go through with it, except for Elijah. Elijah gives a touching eulogy, stating that we all have value. We are all human and none of us are entirely good or evil. Christine was "one of us" and deserves a proper send off.
The Trailer Park Elegy set, designed by Michael Presley Bobbitt, includes part of a trailer with a small fenced in yard for Mabel, along with a Prairie View Trailer Park sign that says "When You're Here, You're Home!", original artwork by Tom Miller.
Mr. Bobbott's musical score was delightful and consisted of a live pianist, Liam Bobbitt. While the Bobbitt team did a lot, they did not do it alone. They had a fantastic cast and crew ART staffers and tech support and all did a great job ensuring everything came together.
Trailer Park Elegy is a hilarious story with a good message of love conquering hate, we are all human, and no one is perfect.
You can join the Trailer Park Elegy cast and crew after the show, during a post-mission soirée. Here you will have a chance to drink wine, chat, tell everyone how amazing they are, ask what the ashes are made of, and pet the star of the show, Mabel the goat. Mabel is probably the sweetest, and most talented, goat I've ever met. As for the ashes, well, go see the show and try to figure it out, and discuss your answer with the director during the post-mission soirée.
If you go see the show this weekend, you're in for a treat! The TPELEGY Playwright/Director/Set Designer/etc/etc heroically steps into the production to play the lead...with only one day notice! Break a leg, Michael!
Special thanks to Gainesville Downtown for their 'Elegy' images. The Acrosstown Repertory Theatre's production of Trailer Park Elegy continues through September 17 with performances scheduled on various days and times. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more information.