EASLEY — Easley’s Foothills Playhouse is bringing a touch of Appalachia to the stage with the presentation of Foxfire, a walk through family life touched by music and themes that should resonate with all audiences.
The play, whose setting is near Rabun County, Ga., deals with generational differences between a father and a son as well as the clash of modern concerns and the values of an older generation. Although the struggle may be the understanding between father and son, one a farmer and the other a musician, the differences could be seen as universal and its lessons timely, no matter the time.
“Foxfire is a story of what home really means when the family is involved,” director Jimmy O. Burdette said. “Through flashbacks, stories and great acting and music, the story is all about what it means to be a family when trials arise. This show resonates with audiences because they can see a bit of themselves in these characters.”
The play was written by Hume Cronyn and Susan Cooper and was based on the experiences of Eliot Wigginton, who moved to Rabun Gap in 1966 as a prep school English teacher. Wigginton established the literary magazine Foxfire, with his students, based on the oral histories of their families. The play made its first appearance on the stage in Ontario before moving to London and Broadway.
Dillard Nations is the focus of the play yet most of the story is related by his mother and father, Annie and Hecky on stage. There are moments of hilarity as well as sadness as the story takes the patrons on a rollercoaster ride of emotions to the soundtrack of music provided by The Stoney Lonesome Band.
Divorce, heartache, happiness and jubilation can all be expected from a hand-picked cast.
“When casting this show, I always look for real people. I did not want someone who is acting up there on the stage but someone who was true to the roles,” Burdette said of this cast. “I guess you could say I type cast to a sense but that is why when people see this show, they believe these characters.”
The set is one of the most elaborate that will be seen on the Foothills Playhouse stage this season.
“My set is one of the most original sets I have ever done. I believe in realistic sets. I feel it will take the audience to that place soon as the smell the cedar in the air,” Burdette said. “The show has always reminded me of my great-grandmother’s home place, which a lot of the set dressings for this production came from. I have done this show three times and have to say I never get tired of this story.”
Burdette has previously directed Foxfire at Foothills and said it was a great success, especially for newcomers to the theater.
“The last time we did this show at Foothills Playhouse, I remember a group of high school students had to come see the show,” Burdette related. “After the performance the group of students came to me and said they came to the show thinking it was going to be a boring night, but instead they really learned a lot from the play and music and really loved the performers in this beautiful show called Foxfire.”
And for those who do not know, Foxfire is an actual thing.
“Foxfire is a a fungus that grows in the mountains of southern Appalachia and makes its home on rotten wood,” Burdette related. “And through this fungus, an ominous glow can be seen by those who can walk upon it at night. That glow is called foxfire.”
The show opens Friday (Aug 21) at 8 p.m. with additional shows at 8 p.m. Aug. 22, Aug. 28 and Aug. 29. Sunday matinees are at 3 p.m. Tickets can be bought through the playhouse box office by visiting www.fhplayhouse.com/wordpress/. Ticket prices range from $5 to $15.
Reach D. C. Moody at 864-855-0355.