Readers Theater - play touches on tough choices we are sometimes forced to make

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Stage direction James Emlund, Dominica Myers (Vesta), G. To'mas Jones
(Cedric/Stephen),  Chernese Robertson (Clarice),
Valerie Viramontes (Sadie),  Mr. Cooper (neighbor)
Photo by Devon Rickabaugh at Shoreline Center reading

By Devon Vose Rickabaugh

Award winning playwright La’Chris Jordan’s Play Roses in The Water was read last Monday for the LFP/Shoreline Readers Theater. Playwright Jordan grew up close to the Desire Housing Projects and visited them as she was writing the play, unbeknownst to her father who was in the audience. In her synopsis of the play Jordan says,

“It is the spring of 2000, and life in the New Orleans Desire Housing Projects isn't easy for Clarice. The dead-end job, the drive-by shootings, and the constant struggle to pay the rent have all taken their toll on her and she wants out. With no other viable options, Clarice enlists in the U.S. Navy despite her mother's objections. But will life in the military be any safer than life in the projects? A challenging and timely drama with sharp humor, “Roses in the Water” touches on the tough choices we are sometimes forced to make.”
The family consists of: Clarice who has been passed over for several promotions while the white employees she trained have moved up; Her mother Mercedes who has had her disability reduced and won’t be able to pay the rent unless she accepts illegal money from her nephew Cedric which she refuses to do; Clarice’s aunt Vesta who drinks to forget her dreams and keep her denial about her son Cedric’s illegal activities; Stephen, Clarice’s boyfriend who when he finds out she is pregnant and considering an abortion so she can go into the navy (“I don’t want to raise a child in this place.”) walks out on her.

The realistic dialect among these black Southern people moves seamlessly along as they argue about what needs to be done to improve their lives. Clarise decides to go into the Navy, have the abortion, and leave Stephen for now. Clarice is stationed on the SS Cole when terrorists attack. The playwright was in the Middle East when the attack took place. She said she was concerned that the Southern audience would be offended by Clarice’s abortion which is only implied. But most of the Southern audience related to being in the military under the dangerous situations of today.

Playwright Jordan is in Los Angeles in a production company for Discovery Channel so she answered questions via smart phone. Several readers said they could relate to the characters: the stress of single motherhood, alcoholic family members: “We all have an aunt Vesta.” The play is timely and touches on painful situations in our lives today. Jordan hopes to have the play performed in the near future. She has revised it several times. Judging from the reading the play is ready.


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