Springer Opera House set to premiere new children’s play based on the life of Ruby Bridges

Springer Children’s Theater will premiere a new commissioned play, Look Forward: The Ruby Bridges Story, from September 30 to October 9 at the McClure Theater in Springer.

The play is based on the true story of Ruby Bridges, an extraordinary 6-year-old who helped shape history when she became the first-ever African American sent to first grade at an all-white school — changing America forever. Set in New Orleans in 1960, Ruby eventually befriends students and teachers and lives a faith that tells her to stand firm. See the world through Ruby’s eyes and discover America’s true promise.

“It’s a story about how Ruby Bridges showed great faith. His light (love) drove out the darkness (fear). “says director Beth Reeves. “Her parents, Abon and Lucille Bridges, poured so much love into her and it helped show what faith was like. It is through their love, their prayers, their words of affirmation and their hymns sung to soothe his soul that ruby was able to develop a lifelong friendship with his teacher, Mrs. Henry. This story is about the power of family, especially the black family. This powerful story also tells how you are never too small to make a big difference. It is because of this that we are all inspired to look to the future!”

The Springer received a scholarship in 2018 from the Georgia Council for the Arts which enabled Natalia Naman Temegen to write the play.

An award-winning local playwright and screenwriter, his plays have been produced in Atlanta, Boston, Columbus (GA), New York, Philadelphia and Princeton. She has written TV episodes for Dear White People Season 4 (Netflix), Julia (HBO Max) and the upcoming series Reasonable Doubt (Hulu). She is currently co-producer of season 2 of Julia (HBO Max).

Natalia was a 2021 Artist in Residence and recipient of the Film Focus Fellowship at the Serenbe Institute. She received the American Playwriting Foundation’s 2019 “Relentless Award” Honorable Mention for Lawnpeople, a political drama dealing with immigration, identity and motherhood. The Springer also commissioned and produced his play Ace: The Eugene Bullard Story is an epic bio-play about the first African-American fighter pilot.

“Natalia Temesgen created a deeply interactive storyline, encouraging audience members to step into Ruby’s world while thinking for themselves,” said Springer’s director of education, Sally Baker. “Natalia and I talked about the format of this play which felt half a PAIR arts integration lesson and half a traditional children’s theater performance – with the full aesthetic of a play but the thoughtful participation of a class. What she created accesses both the world of “classroom learning” and the power of theater as well, much like what Ruby Bridges lived as a child. She too learned from the class but from the transformation of the people around her.”

Expect: The Ruby Bridges Story has performances on September 30 and October 7 at 7:00 p.m., October 1 and 8 at 11:00 a.m. and October 2 and 9, 2022 at 2:30 p.m. The show will be presented at the McClure Theater at Springer, the entrance is located on 1st Avenue, around the corner from the main entrance of the Springer Opera House.

The October 7 performance at 7 p.m. also includes a special post-show panel discussion with the artistic creators of the show. The panel includes playwright Natalia Temesgen; show director, Beth Reeves; and Dr. Elizabeth Bussey who was a special consultant to the director on integration in the 1960s to 1970s.

Tickets are $18.00 for adults, $12.00 for children, and $10.00 for Academy students and can be purchased online at springeroperahouse.org or by calling 706-327-3688. The Springer Box Office is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and two hours before the show.

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