"MHIC and Fishtrap bring The Hillsboro Story to Enterprise"

"MHIC and Fishtrap bring The Hillsboro Story to Enterprise" Monday, February 21, 6:30 pm with audience discussion to follow
Admission: $5 adults, $3 students

A schoolhouse burned to the ground amid the controversy of school desegregation in Hillsboro, Ohio during the 1950’s. Oregon playwright Susan Banyas returned to her hometown years later and interviewed those involved for her play, The Hillsboro Story, a provocative look at a turning point in American history.

Performed by the Artists Repertory Theatre of Portland, The Hillsboro Story follows a successful run on the stage in Portland by touring with the production to schools and communities throughout Oregon and Ohio. It was named one of the most "memorable" plays of 2010 by The Oregonian's theatre critic, Marty Hughley.

A performance in Wallowa County on Monday, February 21 at the OK Theatre in Enterprise is being hosted by Fishtrap and The Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center in honor of Black History Month. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students to help cover expenses. The play starts at 6:30 pm and will be followed by a discussion with cast members and the audience, moderated by playwright and director Susan Banyas and Colleen Dunne-Cascio Director of Student Relations at Eastern Oregon University in LaGrande.

The Hillsboro Story is a warm‐hearted, hard‐hitting narrative, set in the writer's hometown near the Mason‐Dixon Line. The story opens in Hillsboro, Ohio on July 5, 1954 when the "colored" elementary school went up in flames. The fire sparked a "school fight" led by five African American mothers that became the first test case in the North for the Brown v. Board of Education decision (May, 1954). Banyas was in the third grade, and the memory of those times sparked this cultural detective story. The play is the culmination of over 50 interviews with major players, their children and national figures in the Civil Rights movement.

The Hillsboro Story has been described as an inspired weaving of spoken word, movement, monologues, and visual images, backed by an evocative original music score. In addition to Banyas as writer, director and performer, the show features choreography by noted Portland dancer Gregg Bielemeier, an artfully sensitive, jazz-tinged score by David Ornette Cherry, and performances in multiple roles by Jennifer Lanier, K.B. Mercer and LaVerne Green.

Fishtrap's Interim Executive Director, Barbara Dills, saw the play during its extended run in Portland. "It's lively, fast-moving and provocative in the best sense of that word," she says. "And the original music by Portland composer David Ornette Cherry is amazing. When Susan contacted Fishtrap looking for a way to bring the play to Wallowa County, we jumped at the chance to be a host. We were so pleased when Gwen Trice of The Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center agreed to co-host and the OK offered us the perfect venue." The play is appropriate for high school students -- two high‐school teachers from Portland Public Schools even developed a special 5‐week curriculum for 11th grade language arts students based on the script of The Hillsboro Story. The Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center has invited Colleen Dunne-Cascio to help lead the post-performance discussion. Ms. Dunne-Cascio has studied issues of racial and cultural identity and applies that background to her work with students at EOU.

This program is made possible in part by a grant to The Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center from Oregon Humanities (OH), a statewide nonprofit organization and an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which funds OH’s grant program.

Advance photos available for download here: http://www.susanbanyas.com/PR/shots.html
Photo credit: Julie Keefe

Back to Articles