Gardley’s play centers on conflicts of race, faith and family in a whodunit uncovering the culprit behind a string of church fires in Boligee, Ala.
Directed by Horizon summer staple Thomas W. Jones III, the production will feature a few DeKalb residents, including Bernardine Mitchell who portrays the characters Missionary and Tender Meeks.
“I think in large it’s a mystery,” said Jones of the play. “We begin to find out about the burning of the black churches in 1996 and why they’re burning them. There are certain lives intersecting in a mysterious way.”
Jones, has worked with the theatre company each summer for the last 10 years, with a total of 35 years in the industry. The New York native said part of his job as a director is to bring out the playwright’s intent onto the stage.
“A play isn’t a play until all collaborative partners get together,” he said. “The script is a detailed road map to a destination and my job is to get us there to allow actors to do their gig. At the end of the day, what is it that the playwright had in his soul, heart and mind is revealed on stage.”
This will be Mitchell’s fourth production with the theatre since 2005 and her 30th year in the Actor’s Equity Association. She joined the association in 1979.
In the play, Mitchell’s characters look to change the outcome of their surroundings in dealing with the mystery.
“I think the characters I play, Missionary and Tender Meeks, are healers and set out to change the world but soon realize that you can only heal those who wish that for themselves,” she said. “Certainly, their faith in the human spirit fuels the strength to continue, if only to save just one.”
On the audience’s reception of the play, Mitchell added they will be informed and shocked by the truth of the story.
“What they will receive is the truth of ourselves and be held accountable,” she said.
“That all the things that divide us are totally irrelevant.”
Jones said the play asks a powerful question and their job is to get the audience to hear it, which would compel them to want to answer it.
“My greatest hope is that that happens,” said Jones.
“To reach them [audience] in a way to compel them to want to talk about it — to really gather civilized human beings in a room and have intelligent conversations about something that affects all of us.”
If you go:
What: ‘every tongue confess’
When: Friday through Aug. 25; show times are Wednesday through Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m.
Where: Horizon Theatre, 1083 Austin Ave. in Atlanta
Information: (404) 584-7450 or www.horizontheatre.com