Work It LA
Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"The Emancipation of Alabaster McGill"

Upon first glance, "The Emancipation of Alabaster McGill" seems like a mouthful of words. But after spending a few hours with a talented yet absurd cast with a comical script, Jeff Goode's play and director Eric Curtis Johnson's direction doesn't fail to entertain. It was an outrageous and ultimately sincere trip to T.U. Studios in North Hollywood, one we suggest taking.

The play is set in Kentucky during the days immediately before and after Lincoln's signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The setting takes place exclusively on the Porch of Captain Avner Pillicock (James Sharpe), whose house is an alleged stop on the Underground Railroad. The first act follows the story of many diverse and comedic characters as they whittle away at sticks while arguing vehemently about the effects such a proclamation can have on society. A careful blend of humorous and factual dialogue open the eyes of the audience to a time in which religion played an incredible role in human rights issues. The naivety of the late 1800's is unnerving, but not unlike the intolerance still seen in many ways today.

The second act introduces us to Alabaster McGill (Arden Haywood), the slave who was once living in Pillicock's fruit cellar. As a free man, McGill joins the cast on Pillicock's porch as issues of race and sexuality prominently make their way to the forefront. The eventual profession of Pillicock and McGill's love for one another sends the townspeople in a tizzy as the two decide to get married. The idea of an interracial marriage frightens the cast more so then the idea of two men entering a relationship.

As the townspeople scramble to protest the union, Pillicock exclaims, "Things are changing and it's high time to embrace it." In an ever-changing world, these words become increasingly important for us to embrace. Jeff Goode shows us that the symbiotic connection between race issues of the past and homosexuality issues of the present is undeniable. The cast and crew of "The Emancipation of Alabaster McGill" show us that the most significant thing we can learn is tolerance and acceptance. And the importance of knowing how to whittle one's stick.

"The Emancipation of Alabaster McGill" is playing at the T.U. Studios, 10943 Camarillo St., North Hollywood, CA 91602. Two shows remain on Saturday, June 18th at 8pm and Sunday, June 19th at 7pm. For tickets, visit