“Holy Ghost,” a play by Francis Marion University English professor Jon Tuttle, recently won the Nathan Miller History Play Contest.
The contest was sponsored by the Sprenger/Lang Foundation. A staged reading of the play was performed on June 6 by Tribute Productions, an Equity (professional) company, at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C.
The Nathan Miller History Play contest is meant to “elucidate a significant event or era in American history.” More than 60 plays were submitted on a wide range of topics, from the pre-Revolutionary War period to the 20th century.
The play was also one of five national finalists from more than 160 submissions for the Next Generation Playwriting Contest, and received a staged reading by Reverie Productions in New York City, May 10.
“Holy Ghost” will premiere Aug. 12-14 and 17-20 at Trustus Theatre in Columbia, where Tuttle is playwright-in-residence.
“Holy Ghost” imagines a prison camp in South Carolina’s low country in 1944. It imagines an escape by a prisoner who knows no English except the lines he’s learned playing the lead in a camp production of “Abe Lincoln in Illinois.” It imagines a pursuer – a black guard – who finds his own country even less familiar and accommodating than does the “enemy” he pursues.
The play was inspired by an article in The State newspaper several years ago about German POWs held in South Carolina camps during World War II.
“It was fascinating, and something and I’d never heard about before,” said Tuttle. “As I read, I was struck by certain ironies: one was that white de facto ‘slaves’ worked in cotton fields guarded by black ‘overseers.’ Another – a magnificent reversal of the Fugitive Slave Act – was that on occasion black guards chased escaped white prisoners across the South.”
Ticket information can be found online at www.trustus.org.
#177 / 6-15-05