New Theatre Production DUST BOWL MOTEL to Debut in Huntsville Proceeds Will Benefit Local Programs
“Katie's gone to California. She read there's something in the air. She's got her pockets full of Dixie. She just might make it halfway there.” These song lyrics were just part of the inspiration for DUST BOWL MOTEL, a new play by Jim Roth and Scott McCarley that debuts in Huntsville on August 15. Centered on the struggles, heartbreak and dreams of one woman’s journey to find happiness, the production combines acting and storytelling with live music and video to capture a unique theatre experience. Directed by Marjean Creager, the production will be presented as a fundraiser with ticket sales benefiting J. Philip Gibbs, Jr., Centre for Performing Arts (Old Town Theatre) and SHSU performing arts scholarships.
Set in a rundown motel in western Oklahoma where “bad just got worse” the central character Katie has little to do but clean old motel rooms and watch the heatwaves rise from the highway out front. To escape this mundane reality she dreams of a new life in sunny California and develops a plan to get there. Although the play’s title and theme of moving west for a better life seems straight out of a Steinbeck novel, the production isn’t about the depression era but rather a modern-day story with a timeless message. “Escaping the motel is a metaphor for people’s desire for something better, something more. It’s that place they don’t want to be,” explained McCarley. “The story invites us to reflect on what we really value and includes a few surprises along the way.”
Dreams and surprises, which play a big role in DUST BOWL MOTEL were also central to the creation of the show. McCarley, who had never written a play before, had a vision and a dream for the production for years but it wasn’t until he met Roth by chance in a Colorado cafe and the two began talking that he realized Roth’s talents as a professional playwright and interest in a collaboration. Another surprise developed in discovering the music of Caitlin Cary, a singer/songwriter from the group Whiskeytown - an alternative country band fronted by Ryan Adams. “When I heard that song and those lyrics (Katie's gone to California. She read there's something in the air) it connected so closely with the story and I realized I had to get her music involved,“ said McCarley.
Fortunately Cary was willing to lend her talents to help make DUST BOWL MOTEL a reality along with many others. In addition to the expertise of long-time theatre professional and educator Marjean Creager, the production includes a host of behind-the scenes local talent and SHSU faculty, staff and alumni including: Margie Eglsaer, Melissa Miller, Colette Cotton, Mary McCarley, Cynthia Smith, Rick Hanna, Josh Starkey, Davin James, Chelsey Shaffeld, Kevin Currie, Matt Weedman, Annie Strader, Margaret Smith and Emily Binetti.
All ticket sales from DUST BOWL MOTEL will benefit J. Philip Gibbs, Jr., Centre for Performing Arts (Old Town Theatre) and SHSU performing arts scholarships. “The goal is to make this a community project and to truly do that, the community should benefit financially which is why I have arranged for all ticket sales to be shared with two local organizations - Old Town Theatre, whose team has done so much to make this effort possible and also to talented and well deserving SHSU performing arts students to help make their educational and artistic endeavors possible,” said McCarley.
DUST BOWL MOTEL takes place at 7:30pm August 15 & 16 and 2pm August 17, 2014 at J. Philip Gibbs, Jr., Centre for Performing Arts (Old Town Theatre) at 1023 12th St. in Huntsville, TX. Ticket prices are $12 (general admission), $10 (students and seniors/ Twenty Ticket group) and can be purchased by calling 936-293-8681. For more info: facebook.com/DustBowlMotel or 936-293-8681.