“South of Hope,” North of Amazement

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June 23, 2017 by T. Gregory Argall

Well that happened and it was wonderful.

The Elkader Opera House Players produce mainly musicals and comedies. They’ve done some of my comedies and always impress me. The last time they did a hard, serious drama was 1978.

Until now.

Because, with an uncharacteristic and lingering lapse in reason, they seem to love me, last night the Opera House Players presented the world premiere performance of my play “South of Hope,” a drama about adapting and coping with disabilities.

Definitely not a comedy.

Director Joeann Tesar chose an amazing cast of Janet Ott, Jonathon Moser, Jenna Pollock, and Cary Kann. Miracle-worker Kay Moser is the Producer. Knowing who was involved, I was confident that it would be a good show. Joeann’s passion and enthusiasm for the project left little doubt that she would inspire and provoke the best from her talented cast, and with years of producing and stage managing experience, Kay regularly and calmly performs the impossible.

So I knew I was not going to be disappointed.

But I was not prepared for just how far beyond my already high expectations this production would soar.

So much raw emotion was poured onto the stage that I thought it would burn right through the wood. Anger, frustration, sadness, joy, disappointment, pain, love, regret, happiness, all so powerfully displayed. It hurt me, as the writer, to see what I had put these characters through.

And that’s the point, isn’t it?

Already knowing what was going to happen, knowing the backstories and secrets of these four characters, knowing how the story ends, I still was brought to tears at times, still smiled at the touching moments, still laughed at the comic relief. It was so beautifully and perfectly presented that despite my familiarity with the material, it all felt new and bold and intimidating, just like real life.
And a few times it punched me right in the heart.
Just like real life.

And now it’s out there, in the world. After years of sitting on a self, my unlikely play about loss, suffering, love, and determination has finally been brought to life and set free.

Inevitably, someday, I’m sure there will be more productions of this play. I hope. But whatever companies pick up the script and run with it in the future, they’d better bring their A game. The bar has been set and it is impressively high.

As always, try to be nice to each other.



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