Split in Three
Written by Daryl Lisa Fazio and Directed by Justin Anderson
Written by Atlanta’s own Daryl Lisa Fazio, Split in Three is bringing humor and heart to Aurora Theatre, May 4-28! Change can be exhilarating and excruciating at the same time. This highly-anticipated comic drama looks at a quintet of people in the Mississippi Delta struggling with personal change during a time of great historic change: the Civil Rights movement in the late 60s.
Atlanta favorite and Aurora veteran Courtney Patterson stars as Nola Parsons, joined by Rhyn McLemore Saver (Nell Parsons Cobb), Suzi Bass Award-winner Travis Smith (Tucker Tacket), Falashay Pearson (Penny Tompkins) and Elijah Marcano (Clifford Barnhill).In Split in Three, the Mississippi Delta is in the middle of a war zone with the primary focus on the national attention of the integration of schools in the area. Mississippi was one of the last U.S. cities to fight against allowing black children to attend the same school as white children. The majority of white citizens in the town are upset with this decision and tensions are flaring throughout the town on both sides.
Nola (played by Courtney Patterson) and Nell (played by Rhyn McLemore) are poor white sisters living in poverty and are just trying to get by. Each sister’s outlook on the world is quite different based on the individual circumstances and choices that led them both to be living together as adults in their deceased mother’s dilapidated home.
Nola is a feisty, smart-talking, party girl that welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision of integration with open arms.
Nell is divorced and lonely and she leans heavily on her religious/racist views that are limited to what she hears on the radio and from her pastor that is against integration.The play takes a turn (MINOR SPOILER) when a sister whose existence they were not aware of comes to town. Nola finds humor in discovering their father had a relationship with a black woman and their sister Penny (played by Falashay Pearson) is the result. Nell’s take on the situation is completely different and she struggles to come to terms with what goes against everything she has believed in her entire life.
Their sister Penny is a Northerner and was born and raised in Chicago. She holds two degrees and has been mostly sheltered and naïve about the civil rights struggle going on in the south at the time.
I enjoyed the complexity of all of the characters and the use of comedy to eventually establish a bond between all three sisters.
Daryl Lisa Fazio, playwright, has committed herself to write complex and challenging roles for women of all ages, races, and classes. She definitely delivers on this commitment with Split in Three.
Classic plays continue to be produced because they aren’t finished saying what they have to say. New plays are immediately reflective of the age that we live in. Both present their challenges. But if you’re doing a classic play there’s an understanding of how it works already, so there’s inherent safety in that. With new plays, the “how-to” is less apparent but can be that much more exciting to figure out. Sure, new work is risky, but it’s ultimately what allows the art of the theatre to persist and remain relevant.
Split in Three had a wildly successful World Premiere at Florida Repertory Theatre in April 2015. Even though I knew this story needed to be experienced far and wide so I am thrilled to bring the second production to Aurora Theatre with a whole new crop of designers and actors. Daryl Lisa Fazio (playwright) and I learned so much from the first production and we have trimmed and tucked the work, so to speak. The second time around only proves what hasn’t changed: the humor and heart of the piece is as rich as ever and continues both to entertain and challenge.
When we officially chose this play for our 2016-2017 season almost 15 months ago who knew how relevant the story would be? It’s curious how stories are capable of being responsive to present circumstances in ways we never imagined when we first considered programming them. So, I invite you to lean into the community and family dynamics of the play, warts (and there are plenty!) and all. Empathy, understanding, love, and trust are waiting in the mess. And in changing times like the ones we are living in, those qualities are always things we can use more of.
–Justin Anderson, Associate Artistic Director
I highly recommend this play and I look forward to seeing what Daryl Lisa Fazio has in store for us next.
Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to this play but in no way did this impact my opinion or review of the play.
ABOUT AURORA THEATRE
Under the artistic leadership of Co-Founders and Artistic Directors Anthony Rodriguez and Ann-Carol Pence, now in its 21st Season, Aurora Theatre produces professional live entertainment to suit everyone’s taste. Aurora Theatre is home to over 650 events each year. Two series of theatrical productions, the Peach State Federal Credit Union Signature Series and the GGC Harvel Lab Series, are comprised of the biggest Broadway plays and musicals alongside exciting contemporary theatre. Additionally, Aurora produces concerts, stand-up comedy, children’s programs, metro Atlanta’s top haunted attraction Lawrenceville Ghost Tours, as well as Atlanta’s only professional Spanish language theatre, Teatro Aurora. Aurora Theatre is a world-class theatrical facility with two performance venues. Nestled on the square in historic downtown Lawrenceville, Aurora has FREE attached covered parking and is surrounded by restaurants and shops. Aurora Theatre has garnered numerous accolades highlighted by recent achievements that include a 2016 Governor’s Award for the Arts & Humanities, winner of five 2015 Suzi Bass Awards, Creative Loafing’s “2010 Best Theatre Company,” Georgia Trend Magazine’s “2011 Best Places to Work in Georgia,” Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “2012 Best Places to Work”, Atlanta Magazine’s “Best of Atlanta 2013”, Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s 2014 President and CEO Award for Excellence in Arts, and Gwinnett Chamber’s 2015 IMPACT Regional Business Award for Hospitality.