WAYNESBORO — The General Lee will not make a personal appearance, but theater performances next week in the area are fixing to remind audience members of a television series from the 1980s set in Hazzard, Ga.
“Good Old Boys,” written and directed by Stuarts Draft High graduate Ashley Sparks, was inspired by the 1979-1985 TV show “The Dukes of Hazzard,” and interviews she conducted with her father, a Vietnam War veteran, and his veteran friends.
Sparks, 40, a theater director and facilitator in Los Angeles, said she wanted to create “an easy point of entry” into conversation in Augusta County. Pop culture is an easy way to bring different people together in a non-tension-filled environment to discuss important topics.
“There are things about those characters [on “The Dukes of Hazzard”] that I think are very fun that are [also] archetypal,” Sparks said.
Audience members will be asked to participate in discussion during each of the five performances held two days in Waynesboro, Greenville and Stuarts Draft. Each performance represents an episode of the TV show, and is 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how long discussion is held.
“I’m trying to find the space where we can actually be in conversation,” Sparks said, not just about politics, but about matters of the heart.
The first performance focuses on how men relate to working, the second performance shares history about the Civil War, and the third focuses on women drivers and the concept of race. In the fourth performance, audience members will be asked to think about their values, and the fifth performance will illustrate how men deal with other men and grief.
Sparks said a character in one episode says the line: “You’ve given me something to think about.” And she hopes audience members come away from the performances with that in mind.
“Good Old Boys” is about two brothers, one a contractor and the other a military veteran. A county commissioner and county sheriff, much like the characters in “The Dukes of Hazzard,” also make appearances. The brothers play with remote-controlled cars and Army men, and also reenact the Battle of New Market, which took place May 15, 1864, during the Civil War.
Sparks holds a master’s degree in directing and public dialog from Virginia Tech, which, she said, enables her to show others how theater can be used to engage the public in conversations about values and other important issues. As a facilitator in LA, she helps nonprofits “when people have challenges communicating with each other.”
Sparks began working on “Good Old Boys” more than two years ago.
The theater project was made possible with a $20,000 grant from A Blade of Grass, a New York-based fellowship program. Sparks said the grant is specifically for socially-engaged projects.
Shows on Sept. 19 will be performed 6 a.m. in the BP gas station parking lot, 3529 Lee Jackson Hwy., Greenville, and 6 p.m. at Basic City Brewery, 1010 E. Main, St., Waynesboro. Other performances will be on Sept. 20: 6 a.m. at BP in Greenville, 8 a.m. at Hardee’s, 1527 E. Main St., Waynesboro, 3 p.m. at 7-11, 50 Draft Ave., Stuarts Draft, and 6 p.m. at Basic City Brewery. On Sept. 22 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Ridgeview Park’s shelter, audiences can enjoy all five shows. Audience members interested in the Sept. 22 performances who RSVP to the project’s web site or call 434-218-0491, will be able to enjoy free brunch and BBQ.
“I’m hoping that the project will tour to other gas stations throughout the South,” Sparks said.
For more information, go to www.goodoldboysproject.com.