Rehearsals are in full swing for “Dragons in the Path,” a new play by Justin Lockamy and produced by the Old Bluff Theatre Company and the Sampson Arts Council.
“Dragons in the Path” is adapted from the book “I Knew 3,000 Lunatics” by Dr. Victor R. Small, whose residence is currently the home of the Sampson Arts Council. The play takes place at a mental hospital in the early 1930s. Doctors and patients wrestle with disease, a changing institution and, occasionally, each other in this lively, character driven work.
The cast comprises 13 local actors, both veterans and newcomers to the stage. Clay Boney plays Dr. Virgil Gilbert, a young and tireless doctor who also happens to be hopelessly in love. Nurse Stalling, his sweetheart, is a no-nonsense, hard-working woman, played by Audrey Whetten. The two, however, must keep their relationship secret, “And part of the fun of playing these roles is watching them trying to maintain this secrecy,” says Boney.
Nicholas Ziolkowski assumes the role of Dr. Henry Fisher, a new and self-assured doctor at the hospital, who undergoes a series of struggles, both inner and outer, including one with patient Hazel Webb, played by Alison Bradshaw. “Fisher and Hazel, at different times, are both lost souls, which really fuels their connection,” observes Bradshaw.
The cast is rounded out by stellar performances by Justin Lockamy, who plays the stern hospital superintendent; Felesia Buczynski, who plays the effervescent patient Martha Washington Gardy; Kevin Kiernan, who portrays the larger-than-life governor; and B.J. Lockamy, who is Kate Selks, a humorous, fiery patient. Gary Wayne Melvin, as patient Gimme Hickle, Ashley Hartsoe, Shekinah King, Steve Hylan, and Bruce Creech also grace the stage as other patients, doctors, and nurses.
Come watch the drama unfold Sept. 14 and 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Sept. 16 at 2:30 p.m. at the Sampson Community Theatre, 115 Fayetteville St. in Clinton. The Sampson Arts Council is also hosting a reception for the play, which will showcase Dr. Small’s memorabilia at the Victor R. Small House, 709 College St., on Thursday, Sept. 13 from 5.30 until 7.30 p.m.
Tickets to the play are $8 for students and seniors and $10 for general admission. This play is intended for adults and older teenagers. Advance tickets are now available online at sampsonarts.net, from the Sampson CenterStage Box Office: 910-592-7200, and from the Victor R. Small House, 596-2533.
This play is supported by the North Carolina Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Cultural Resources, with additional funding from local arts councils in Cumberland, Moore, New Hanover and Robeson counties.