UNION — The USC Union Players invite everyone to come and share laughter and life lessons on the front porch.
The USC Union Players will present “The Porch Gatherers: A Swanky Comedy in Two Acts,” Nov. 16-18 at the USC Union Auditorium. Show times are at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16 and Saturday Nov. 17, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18. Advance tickets are available at the USC Union Bookstore and the Union County Arts Council.
Those involved noted that the play is “a little bit PG-13,” as it includes some adult language and sexual references.
“The Porch Gatherers” was written by Pickens native and current Seattle resident Lee Lawing, who said growing up in Pickens has influenced several of the plays he has written, but none more so than “The Porch Gatherers.”
“I love the small town life and miss that a lot living in Seattle now,” Lawing said. “The play is one that I wrote the very first drafts of while I was still in high school. It started out as a group of short stories and it was in that format I had wanted to keep them, until I got to college and discovered playwriting — and that I was a better playwright than I was short fiction writer. So, I turned the stories into a play.”
Lawing said the characters of the “The Porch Gatherers” stem from his father’s family members and co-workers at what was then known as Singer.
“The name of the characters I have changed from the original version to the names of my mom and her sisters,” Lawing said. “I actually feel the play is a tribute to both my parents in this respect.”
The play will be directed by Amber Crocker, who directed a scene from “The Porch Gatherers” in the spring at USC Union’s Upcountry Literary Festival. Because the performance was successful and audience members were curious about the characters’ outcomes, Crocker was inspired to direct the play in its entirety and began work on it in August. This is the first full-length play she has directed.
“It has definitely been a challenge, but a good challenge,” Crocker said.
Crocker said the play is about five strong-willed, outspoken women who gather on a front porch to gossip about everyone in town — including the preacher who is having an affair. At the same time, the women learn about themselves.
“It’s kind of like they realize, ‘I can’t point my finger at someone when three are pointing back at me,’” Crocker said.
The cast consists of Nicole Glenn, Bonnie Baker, Kaitlyn Wade, Nena Walker and Doyle Wheatley.
Crocker said the characters Loretta and Fairy make the play, describing their personalities as witty, yet spacey.
“They know who they are, and they’re comfortable with that,” Crocker said.
Crocker said her personal favorite scenes are those that include interaction between Mary and Fairy (played by Glenn and Baker).
“They have great interaction, and they do really well at realizing their characters,” Crocker said.
She also mentioned the fact that Wheatley — a male actor — plays the female character “Loretta.”
“He’s an actor to begin with, so he’s very comfortable with it,” Crocker said, mentioning that Wheatley has had to work on changing his voice and his natural laugh for the play.
“He is so confident in himself, he embraces the character and makes her confident as well,” Crocker said.
Crocker said that everyone involved has put in a lot of work, and she looks forward to seeing it pay off Nov. 16-18.
“These actors have been working really hard — on top of their daily lives and schoolwork,” she said. “They’ve come and they’ve committed. That’s why I want people to come and see just how hard they have worked. They are fabulous!”
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at email@example.com.
AT A GLANCE
What: “The Porch Gatherers” by Lee Lawing
When: 6 p.m. Nov. 16-17 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18
Where: USC Union Auditorium
Tickets: $5 for general public; $3 for students, faculty and staff (Available at the USC Union Bookstore and the Union County Arts Council).