Just try and imagine the overwhelming thrill of it all. You are Shelita Burns a young African American female and you are an editor at a major New York publishing house. That alone is enough to celebrate, but then along comes Libby Price, an African American citizen who has spent much of her life drifting across America and assembling a mind blowing soul searching, riveting memoir which she has submitted to you for publication.
With your guidance her book does get published and quickly finds its way to the New York Times Best Seller list. Your life is approaching perfect but you still haven’t met Libby Price, which is after all rather odd, so you begin your search for Libby. So confident are you that when you are interviewed by a reporter from the New York Times you cheerful tell him that yes indeed you have met Libby because deep inside you know that you soon will. That is your intent anyhow.
Your journey takes you to a hotel lobby somewhere in America’s south and there you wait looking for Libby but never seeing her. Or then again maybe you did see Libby Price but just didn’t see exactly what you were expecting to see. The truth behind the story becomes the focus of the story and it is deeply shocking.
For many it will be a clear matter of cultural appropriation and just exactly who has the right to tell certain stories and who doesn’t. Both are relevant and important topics but to my eyes and ears the play Bee-Luther-Hatchee goes well beyond that and dramatically raises issues of fundamental morality and the challenges of the human condition.
Regardless it is clear that the playwright Thomas Gibbons has written one powerful story superbly told by the cast of Bee-Luther-Hatchee currently at the Sierra Madre Playhouse in Sierra Madre, California. Without spoiling the story I offer this tiny insight. While I am neither female nor African American, as a former United States Marine few things in life irritate me more than running into someone claiming to be a military veteran when within in matter seconds it is abundantly clear that he has never served a day in his life. Some things simply should not be done by those who have not earned the privilege.
I do offer this one caution and that is this play requires deep and full mental immersion. It will challenge and stimulate you in many ways. So if you are the type of person who enjoys a real mental challenge you will love Bee-Luther-Hatchee.
Also, I did find Act One to be a bit long and seemingly unfocused but quickly with the beginning of Act Two it all became abundantly focused so be patient and you will be rewarded.
Bee-Luther-Hatchee is currently at the Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Boulevard, Sierra Madre, California. It runs now through February 18th 2017 with show times Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m. There is one additional matinee at 2:30 on Saturday, February 18th.
Reservations may be made by calling 626-355-4318 and tickets may be purchased online here.
Photos by Gina Long — Top photo: Leilani Smith and Jon Sprik
Ron Irwin was born in Chicago, Illinois a long time ago. He served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam, became a trial lawyer, TV and radio host, CEO of a public company and once held an Emmy. He never won an Emmy he just held one. Ron has written and published twelve books. His most important book to date is “Live, Die, Live Again” in which Ron tells of his early life and his unexpected and very temporary death in 2012. That experience dramatically refocused his life and within the pages of that book Ron reveals how he achieved a much healthier life, ridding himself of Diabetes, Cancer and Heart Failure. Now Ron enjoys writing about many things including health topics, travel [he has circled the globe several times], adventure, culinary experiences and the world of performing art. Ron’s motto is “Live better, live longer and live stronger because it feels great and annoys others.” Contact the author.