There are quite a few cool things to do in Nashville during the month of June. One of the best is to take in a new play by a Black company to kick off the month that celebrates Black Music Month and Juneteenth. A local Theater Company is leading Music City’s Juneteenth celebrations with the local premiere of Melda Beaty’s “Front Porch Society.” Among Juneteenth celebrations this summer, this timely production with a political backdrop could set the tone for the commemorations.
Kennie Playhouse Theatre (KTP) presents the award-winning stage play “Front Porch Society” at the historic Z. Alexander Looby Theater, 2301 Rosa L. Parks Blvd., in Nashville’s MetroCenter.
The play is set on November 4, 2008, in Marks, Mississippi. America is on the eve of electing its first black president. Amidst the town’s excitement over Barack Obama, Carrie Honey grieves her son’s tragic death. After 40 years of failed attempts to seek justice, Carrie has grown bitter and is no longer interested in life’s celebrations, but when a scandal in town rocks this historic day, a past secret is revealed that restores her faded faith.
The undercurrents of “Front Porch Society” illuminate the massive experiences of Black America and its cautious optimism of hope in America’s promise of equality. Kennie Dozier, founder of KTP, who is also directing the play, said he chose “Front Porch Society” to coincide with Juneteenth to illuminate the continuing quest for peace and equality.
“The massive experiences of the past years—racial conflict, the insurrection, the pandemic, political polarization– have rocked America and changed daily life,” says Dozier. “The characters in Front Porch Society, embody the emotional temperature of America’s sordid history with being black in America as they face an unimaginable, unprecedented opportunity to vote for the first black president.”
Juneteenth commemorates June 19,1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freed to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas — a full two months after the Confederacy had surrendered. This was also about 2 ½ years after the Emancipation Proclamation had already legally freed slaves in the Southern states.
On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act making Juneteenth a federal holiday, giving federal workers a paid day off or one-and-one-half times their regular rates of pay if they must work on or around June 19—depending on the day of the week on which the holiday falls.
Front Porch Society performances will run Thursdays – Sundays from June 1-11, 2023. Performances are at 7:30 P.M. nightly Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, with Sunday Matinees at 2:30 p.m. There will be a Meet & Greet with the playwright, Melda Beaty, on Saturday, June 3. Kennie Playhouse Theatre is offering special discounted performances for senior citizens on June 6 and June 7 at 10:00 a.m.
“Though there is some humor in the production, my hope is that the rich insights presented in ‘Front Porch’ will inspire more conversations that can lead to dissolving racial and political polarization,” Dozier adds.
To learn more about Front Porch Society and for tickets, visit: www.kennieplayhousetheatre.com