Chosen Generation’s drama hits the mark

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Jakki Caldwell Phillips, on staff of the Love In Action Center, was bubbling with excitement following Saturday night’s production of her original screenplay, &uot;I’m Coming Home,&uot; on the stage at J.A. Pickard auditorium. Immediate reviews were extremely positive, she said, and the Chosen Generation, part of the culture and arts program at the center, has already received three invitations to produce the play in Greene and Marengo counties.

Phillips said that the drama group had been in rehearsal for 10 weeks and the remarkable thing was that the only time that everyone was present at the same time was at last Saturday night’s production &045; 25 players, six praise dancers, three narrators and musicians on keyboard and drums. &uot;They improvised very well,&uot; she chuckled.

Participating in the evening’s entertainment were the West Village Mime’s dance group and &uot;Majestic Voices,&uot; a local group. Also assisting in the program was Toshia Craig of Marengo County, who teaches in a school of the arts in the Atlanta area.

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A choir with 46 members from the community that had been assembled and rehearsed in advance sang Christmas carols.

The show was about the struggles that today’s youth face, and presents positive responses to their adversities and challenges. The central message is the importance of strong trust and confidence in Jesus Christ as the basis for a truly fulfilled life.

Also of note was the fact that there were no auditions for the play. All who offered themselves were used. Phillips was proud of that, believing that the confidence shown in the commitment of the youth to give the show their best effort resulted, in fact, in their best effort, which turned out to be a great success in her opinion.

Some 400 were in attendance for the production and audience response was very positive, she said.

Phillips said that incentives were offered to the players, what she termed a &uot;celebrity package,&uot; consisting of caroling at Selma Mall at 1 p.m. Saturday, followed by lunch at McDonalds and transport to Pickard for set-up for the evening performance. Transportation for the young people consisted of a Hummer limousine which picked up each at home, and then carried the group to the mall and then to Pickard.

Phillips was pleased with the play’s sets, designed by Chosen Generation member Darrel Martin, which were assembled on the stage Saturday afternoon, and Don Speed’s work with the auditorium’s lighting system.

Phillips is already planning a spring production of another one of the original screenplays that she has written &045; &uot;I’m Going Up Yonder&uot; &045; which she described as a take-off on John Bunyan’s &uot;Pilgrim’s Progress.&uot;

Casting for that production, which will take place at the Performing Arts Center in March or April, will begin Jan. 15, she said.

Anyone in the community is eligible to be a part of the drama troupe and the only requirement is that participants be at least 10 years old. Love In Action Center, located at 709 Philpot Ave., was founded in 1999 by D.A. and Stella Williamson, members of St. Paul CME Church, as an extension of the congregation’s ministry in the community. Phillips also serves as assistant pastor and youth director at St. Paul’s. St. Paul’s pastor, Winston Williams, serves as consulting advisor for the project.