We normally associate autumn with the sweetness of cotton candy or caramel apples on the fair midway, bounty from the trick or treat bag or pecan pie at the Thanksgiving table. But for 2014, Mobile’s fall is about to take on a saltier edge.
South of the Salt Line Foundation (SOSL) has a trio of projects in store for Mobilians to help hasten the retreat of summer’s heat. They’re not just beating back the balmy climes but a threesome of forces that batter and break our society.
The first target is censorship. On Sept. 21 at 2 p.m. “a dozen bibliophiles and local celebrities” will take the stage at Bernheim Hall in the Ben May Main Branch of the Mobile Public Library for “Banned in Boston … and Everywhere.” The platoon of lit lovers will read from classic books that have been “banned by public libraries, monitored by city councils, banned in middle-schools, high schools and public school systems, as well as by faith-based schools” over the past century. They will include explanation for each work’s blacklisting.
The program had its genesis decades ago in a prior incarnation. In 1987, the library asked Perez to formulate a program in conjunction with National Banned Books Week, normally the last week in September.
“Christina Bowersox Watts was special events coordinator and she wanted us to present a program that would be both ‘controversial and entertaining’ to promote the idea that banning books is not a cultural benefit,” Perez told Artifice in email. The program returned for the four following years.
“Each of the five programs was attended by full houses in Bernheim Hall (balcony overflowing) with enthusiastic audiences who presented provocative questions and comments, who decried the idea that any book should be banned by a public institution,” Perez wrote. “As for banning books for children, our audiences were unanimous that such a decision should be made by the parent.”
Authors represented will be Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Maya Angelou, John Steinbeck, Maurice Sendak, Anthony Burgess, Charles Darwin, J. K. Rowling and Ray Bradbury. A question and answer period is included and the event is free.
SOSL takes aim at another social ill with an Oct. 14 presentation of “Bullies and Lady Dogs,” a one-act play Perez wrote aimed at addressing bullying among youth. Once again, the venue will be Bernheim Hall but the Tuesday night event starts at 7 p.m.
Originally slated for mid-September, Perez changed the date when the district attorney’s office asked him to make it a part of Anti-Bullying Week, Oct. 13-18. The week is sponsored by the Mobile Coalition Against Bullying.
Perez said the extra time is handy since the cast of 15 middle school students needed the extra rehearsal time due to busy schedules. Perez’s description of the cast? Simply, “stellar.”
The 30-minute production has 10 skits suggesting zero tolerance of bullying and offers students creative ways to handle it, often with humor. It will be followed by a question and answer session led by a certified counselor who specializes in bullying. The long-range plan is to take the production into area middle schools and Perez wants to see personnel from MCPSS Central Office and the Catholic Archdiocese on hand to facilitate a Letter of Authorization to enter schools.
The final societal plague in the Salt Line sights will be demagoguery, of both religious and political stripes.
The weapon of choice is another of Perez’s satires, “Ambushed by the Tea Party,” which will spring to life on the stage of Mobile Theatre Guild, 14 N. Lafayette St., days after the “Bullies and Lady Dogs” preview.
Inspired by events in the 1983 Mississippi gubernatorial election in which Democratic candidate William Allain was accused of having sex with two African-American male transvestites, Perez has transferred the action a little closer to home. “Ambushed” follows the antics of Bayou la Batre’s Broussard family who boast a Democratic candidate for governor – ties between his beloved Crimson Tide and the political party explain his political allegiance – enmeshed in sexual imbroglio. As Election Day looms, the family scrambles to save a campaign and most importantly, social esteem.
True to form, SOSL has special performances circled as fundraisers for local causes. The Oct. 16 show will raise money for the Joe Cain Marching Society to help keep the Joe Cain parade free to all.
The following Thursday, Oct. 23 is a benefit for the South Alabama Volunteer Lawyers program. Tickets for this event only are $35.
The last Thursday, Oct. 30 is a standard performance. The play will run Friday and Saturday evenings with Sunday matinees for the last three weekends before the Alabama gubernatorial election.
Tickets are $25 with limited seating and go on sale Sept. 10. For more information, call 251-776-2733 or go to the Brown Paper Tickets website under the event “Ambushed by the Tea Party.”