Florida A&M University Essential Theater’s first production of the year opened Wednesday night with an adaptation of “Home.”
The play is an adaptation of the classic Biblical parable of “the prodigal son,” following a man’s journey for fulfillment that ultimately leads him right back home.
Written by Samm-Art Williams, the story chronicles Cephus Miles’ journey through childhood, love, prison and life in the big city – only to find the true happiness he desired back at home.
It is directed by Luther D. Wells, who has directed numerous Essential Theater plays including “Jitney,” “The Wiz,” “A Soldier’s Play,” and “Dearly Departed.”
Stage director Jennifer Jones said “Home” was different in the past.
“It is a simple play, a simple stage and a simple message,” she said.
Despite the simplicity of “Home,” it is written in both prose and poetic form, giving it even more passion.
The main character travels to different locations. She travels to Crossroads, a prison in Raleigh, N.C. and a very large American city during the 1950s-1970s time period.
The time of the play, however, begins in the 1970s then flashes back to the ’50s.
Unlike other plays, “Home” is performed with no intermissions that “may break up continuity of the story if there was one,” Wells said.
There is a small four-member cast. The stage setup is sparse, with only necessities and thoughtful lighting to help develop themes of the play.
The cast includes Anthony Greene Jr., a senior theater student from Charleston, S.C. as character Man; Arielle Dior White-Mitchell, a junior theater performance student from Oakland, Calif., as Pattie Mae Wells; Reginald L. Wilson, a senior theater performance student as protagonist Cephus Miles; and Erica Young, a junior theater education student from Eatonville, making her Essential Theater onstage debut as Woman.
Although the performing cast is short in numbers, some say they make up for it greatly in effect.
“This is the first performance I’ve seen with such a small cast,” said Keisha Williams, an alumna of FAMU. “I think the small cast makes it more intimate.”
Williams said with all of the plays Wells directs, he tries to “create an intimacy between the performers and the audience.”
Williams said as an out-of-town student moving from a fast-paced city, she could relate to the play.
“Tallahassee has become a comfort zone, but I’d always rather be home (in Miami) with my family,” Williams said.
Wells said everyone is encouraged to come out on the remaining nights “with open minds.”
“Home” will have more shows 2 p.m. Sunday, 8 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday.
Wells said he was pleased with the overall performance.
“Opening night went well, and it’s upward sailing from here,” he said.