A unique combination of talent comes together at Jackson State University for a local production of The Color Purple.
Members of the Mississippi Mass Choir, along with community actors and students, are among the cast.
It's the story of the struggles of Celie Johnson, an abused woman and her life in the rural south of the 1900's.
Jackson State University's Department of Speech is celebrating its 50th year and Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize winning novel was chosen to showcase the school's theatrical range.
Play director and J.S.U. Department of Speech Director Dr. Mark Henderson collaborated with the community and local students, from elementary school to college, to create the ensemble.
The main character, Celie, is played by Deja Abdul-Haqq of Jackson, a grant manager for My Brother's Keeper.
"My connection with Celie is most people have a pain story and most people have had some type of obstacle that has stopped them from surpassing their pain to get to their own personal joy and that's what this story is about," said Abdul-Haqq.
Celie is married to the harsh and angry "Mister."
Mister's son is the character Harpo, played by J.S.U. freshman Donte Wright of Houston, Texas.
"I thought there was a sincerity about Harpo that in the midst of marrying Sofia, dealing with his father "Mister" that he still held true to himself," said Wright.
Celie is in awe of Shug Avery, a loose woman who her husband Mister has been in love with for years.
Senior Ashlei Murray of Jackson plays Shug Avery.
Murray plans to attend the New York School of Film and Television upon graduation.
"At first when she comes on she's very mean and has this like shell but then as the play unfolds and as the story gets deeper, her true colors come out and it shows that she has a good heart and she does have good intentions," said Murray.
The production director said theater reflects reality and the story's message of overcoming abuse is timeless.
"We're starting October 31st because October is domestic violence month, and we wanted to at least get a show in in October to show how important it is to focus on a thing like that," said Henderson.
The Color Purple runs October 31st through November 5th at 7:30 p.m. at the Rose McCoy Auditorium on the Jackson State University campus.
A matinee will be performed November 4th at 3:00 p.m.
General admission is $20.00.
Admission for students and seniors is $10.00.
A local school performance will be held Friday November 2nd at 10:00 a.m.
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