HARTWELL GOTHIC: The Dark Side of the American Dream
The year is 1971 and the American economy is staggering under high inflation and high unemployment. The war is escalating in Vietnam and anti-war sentiment raging at home makes returning veterans feel they have been betrayed.
The American Dream that was promised to so many seems to have vanished into a kind of topsy-turvy universe led by social change, economic turmoil and insecurity that the world would have found hard to imagine just a decade before.
Caught at the bottom of the social and economic pyramid are the Dawson family- poor, white southerners living a drab, hand to mouth existence in Hartwell Georgia without many prospects for the future in a fast changing world. But when the opportunity of a lifetime presents itself and offers members of the family a way to transform themselves into something different and better, ghosts from their past appear with resentment, disillusionment, passion and fear to make the transition anything but easy.
This new play is written and directed by Teddy Hayes, a native of Ohio, USA with roots and family in Hartwell Georgia. It will have its first staged reading on February 7th at the Tabard Theatre, Turnham Green at 3pm. The cast includes Jon Prophet as Norman Dawson, Eddie Register as Ellis Dawson, Erick Hayden as R.C Greenwood, Cornelius Geaney Jr. as Stackie, Anne Adams as Myra Dawson, Joyce Springer as Rosie Dawson, and Morgan Deare as Jess Dawson.
The director is working with an all American cast which was provided by the American Actors U.K Organization and its producer, Claudette Williams.
“I wanted to work with an American cast because these characters are uniquely American and I felt that American actors would be able to bring an authenticity to the characters that might not have otherwise been possible” the director said.
Having read the script, I can say that it has some dynamic scenes that make me think that this may be an important American work in the same vein as Tennessee Williams or Sam Shepherd. It exposes a dark side to the American Dream that many public relations people and propagandists for America would prefer to keep hidden. It would not be an overstatement to say that the ending leaves one surprised and jolted and keeps you thinking long after it has finished.