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Historical Jonesboro announces partnership for theatrical production

Chatter and laughter ceased, as Barbara Emert, president of Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc., prepared to officially announce a previously hush-hush collaboration between the non-profit organization and Clayton State University, in Morrow.

With excitement, Emert revealed that the partnership will allow for a theater production based on Clayton County's history and culture to flourish. The revelation occurred during a small reception at the Stately Oaks Plantation, in Jonesboro, Tuesday evening.

"We have an exciting new partnership," said Emert with a smile.

Kalani Fraser, a 2010 graduate of Clayton State, was commissioned as the playwright for the production, said Emert.

Fraser said the first, rough draft of the play's script should be completed Aug. 15. She said the play will last about two hours, with two acts, and include music. "I've written other plays, but this is my first commission experience," she said.

Fraser said she is currently researching Clayton County's history, visiting local libraries, the National Archives at Atlanta, and talking to long-time county residents, who are willing to share their stories and family history.

She said the play will include different theatrical/literary components, including comedy and mystery.

Phillip DePoy, director of the Clayton State Theatre, added that Fraser has a talent for playwriting. He said the style of the play will be similar to "Swamp-Gravy," a theatrical production about Colquitt, Ga.

"Around 20 years ago, the town of Colquitt, Ga., commissioned a play about local stores, folklore, family histories, and the show went very well," he said. "Since then, many small towns have decided to create their own projects of this sort," added DePoy.

He said Fraser should complete the final, rough draft of the play Sept. 1, so rehearsals can begin. It is anticipated that the first production will take place at the Clayton State Theatre, at the university, in November.

The play, he said, will be performed on a couple of weekends before Thanksgiving. "We have the idea that it will [also] be presented in a spectacular place the following summer," said DePoy.

Historical Jonesboro's Emert said the working title is "Moonshine and Magnolias." Moonshine, because there were a lot of saloons that made moonshine on Main Street, in Jonesboro in the 1890s. Magnolias is included in the title, because it was a featured flower in "Gone With the Wind," a very popular book, which was made into a movie in 1939, she said.

Emert said the Historical Jonesboro organization will need the financial support of the community to make the play possible. The group is currently accepting monetary donations to support the project. Interested individuals, she said, should call Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc., at (770) 473-0197.

DePoy said that about a year ago, Emert contacted him to share her idea about a Clayton County play that would showcase its rich history. He said he, eventually, introduced Fraser to Emert as a possible playwright for the production.

"This is a great project, and a very nice collaboration between our theater division, our alumnus, this fine local historical entity, and the community at-large," said DePoy.