Normalcy is returning . . . slowly

BY BILL McCANN

Sun Columnist

This past Monday, after being closed for a year due to the pandemic, the local library reopened. As a reader and a writer, this was monumental. And yet it felt so natural to simply walk into the library, find and read a newspaper. Search the shelves for a book, or look for information. Such simple things, which for the past year we have been unable to do.

For someone who writes for a newspaper, enjoys newspapers and books, the few minutes I spent at the library Tuesday made it feel real, that we really are going to get past this once-in-a-century pandemic. So if you have a moment, stop by the library and welcome ‘normalcy’ back to our town.

But don’t forget to wear your mask.

Spotlight Playhouse

In Berea,  the Spotlight Playhouse, located at 214 Richmond Road,  is again producing shows before live audiences; up next is the comedy-drama “Steel Magnolias” with performances April 2, 3, 9, 10, 11, 16, and 17 at 8 p.m. Limited tickets are available due to COVID-19 protocols, but there are still seats available. Make reservations online at https://www.thespotlightplayhouse.com or by calling (859) 756-0011.

Another sign of the slow restoration of normal life is that the Spotlight is accepting submissions of short plays — between 10 and 30 minutes in length — until May 1. Scripts may be submitted by  email only, to Chad@spotlightactingschool.org. Scripts should be typed and in a standard acting format; 12 point Courier-New font.

Selected scripts will be performed as part of a new plays festival later this year.

Conceding to pandemic protocols

Yet, not everything is normal, as the fact that the Kentucky Humanities Council’s Chautauqua program has some programs that are now available virtually.

Kevin Hardesty of Lexington performs “Daniel Boone: The First Kentuckian,” a script written by Bo List. According to the organization’s website, “Boone was an intrepid adventurer and natural leader whose exploits justify his larger-than-life reputation. In 1784, John Filson published “The Discovery, Settlement and Present State of Kentucke.” This influential book chronicled the adventures of Boone and established him not only as an important settler and explorer of Kentucky and the west, but as an American legend.”

For more information or to schedule a performance, contact Hardesty at (859) 608-8331 or by email booneactor@gmail.com.

Kelly Brengelman, of Midway, portrays Madeline McDowell Breckinridge in “Votes for Women,” a script she wrote herself.

According to the Council’s Chautauqua link, “Madeline McDowell Breckinridge — or Madge, as she preferred — was both a state and national leader of the women’s suffrage movement and was highly instrumental in Kentucky’s ratification of the 19th Amendment, granting American women the right to vote.

“Born in Franklin County and raised in Lexington, Madge, the great-granddaughter of Henry Clay, was expected to dedicate her life to public service — but she surpassed every expectation. While her biggest triumph was the women’s suffrage movement, Madge was also a progressive reformer who worked tirelessly to advance the living conditions of the poor, established educational programs, changed the outlook of child welfare and juvenile rehabilitation, and promoted the need for tuberculosis research.

“Unafraid and unapologetic, Madge used every opportunity to reach anyone who would listen. She recited countless speeches and marched in many demonstrations, calling for “Votes for Women” — and proudly cast her ballot in the U.S. Presidential Election of 1920.”

For more information or to schedule a performance contact Ms. Brengleman at (859) 806-6592

or by email at  kellybrengelman@windstream.net

Debra Faulk, Lexington, performs “Nancy Green: Being Aunt Jemima, the Pancake Queen.” Again, the script was written by Bo List. According to the council’s website, “Nancy Green became one of the first prosperous African American women in the U.S. Green was born enslaved in Montgomery County, Kentucky, in 1834. While in Kentucky she worked for the Walker family and moved with them to Chicago just after the Great Fire, in 1872. Eight years later, Nancy Green became ‘Aunt Jemima.’”

“Businessman R.T. Davis had purchased a pre-mixed, self-rising recipe for pancakes and wanted an ‘Aunt Jemima,’ a character from minstrel shows, which were popular at the time, to be the face of his pancakes. ‘Aunt Jemima’ would be a friendly, animated, African American cook who served a wealthy white family.

“Playing the role of “Aunt Jemima” gave Green financial independence few African Americans and few women experienced at the time. Though her work depended on a derogatory racial stereotype, her financial success demonstrates how Black Americans could sometimes play on and use such images to their advantage.”

For more information or to schedule a performance, contact Ms. Faulk at (859) 951-6282 or by

email at debrafaulk@gmail.com.

There is a fee to have the performers bring their show, either in-person or virtually, to community groups and schools across the state; all performances are scheduled and billed by the Kentucky Humanities Council.