Monday, January 4, 2010
If I Had My Way was written by local playwright Joseph Reed Hayes. This reading of the play at the Winter Park Playhouse was funded in part with a development grant from United Arts of Central Florida. The play is set in Central Florida in 1945 at a time when there was a POW camp where the Kissimmee airport is now located. Margaret Perry had left her southern home and was educated in Atlanta and New York. Her mother lived her whole life in the ranch home in Central Florida and when she became ill her daughter returned to take care of her. Margaret resented every aspect of having to work in the ranch taking care of her sick mother. She rejects friends and suitors until one day an Italian POW, bought to the ranch as replacement help, teaches her her the power of love though the beauty of fresh cooked food. Joseph read a section of the play in which Bernice, a young 19 year old woman who works in the kitchen, dreams about her future husband who she has yet to meet.
The play deals with bigotry and hate in the old South. Joseph says the play is influenced by the Blues and you can feel the lonely rhythm throughout. This is a serous play about lonely souls in hard times. Yet towards the end of the third act the actors talk about the scent of Orange blossoms which is a sweet smell that once experienced, is never forgotten.
I attended the reading because Darlyn Finch a local poet and friend had been asked to play the part of Mrs Alecia Jamison the ailing mother. Darlyn didn't have to act to pull off a convincing southern accent and she did fit the part perfectly. In a question and answer session following the reading Joseph explained that the play is still a work in progress. Some lines changed as he worked with the actors. Even in this early stage the play packs a punch and I felt deeply for each of the characters. I hope that when the play is presented on the stage for the first time I will be there to sketch.