The Bradley Beach Arts Council is presenting a reading of the award winning play “The Trip to Bountiful” on Fri., May 15 at the Bradley Beach Elementary School. The play was written by Horton Foote.
This is the arts council’s first event of 2015 and features Julia Sandra Rand, chair of the BBAC, in the lead role of Mrs. Watts, a 60 year old widow longing to return to the home of her youth. Mrs. Watts is facing resistance from her son, Ludie, and his domineering wife, Jessie Mae, whose only interest is in collecting her mother-in-law’s monthly government check.
After several failed attempts Mrs. Watts finally succeeds in running away from the Houston apartment she shares with her son and daughter in law. She is helped by kind strangers along the way until she reaches the town of Bountiful, stands in front of her former home, which has since deteriorated and plunges her hands into the earth. This simple gesture leaves her feeling strong and dignified.
What follows is a meaningful conversation with Ludie, who has arrived soon after to bring his mother home to Houston.
Mrs. Watts goes with him quietly, knowing she can now leave Bountiful filled with the strength and courage to live out her remaining years with a level of peace and dignity.
Joining Rand in the play are former Ocean Township resident Ellpetha Tsivicos as Jessie Mae Watts, Bill Barrett of Avon, playing the sheriff, Joshua Ratcliffe of Ocean Township, playing the part of the Houston ticket agent, Kelsey Robertson of Point Pleasant as Thelma a fellow train passenger, Camilo Quiroz-Vazquez of New York City as Ludie Watts and Lloyd Fitzsimmons, of Manalapan as the Harrison ticket agent.
The BBAC was formed in 2011 under the direction of then mayor, Julie Schreck, who approached Rand in 2010 about bringing an art programs to the borough.
When first approached, Rand was completing a Master of Arts in English from Monmouth University.
“I told her not until I finish my thesis,” Rand said. “After I was done I agreed to see what I could do about forming an arts association.”
Rand, who grew up in Bradley Beach, attended Boston University to study ballet and later became an actress. As a young woman she became a member of Actor’s Equity after signing a contract with the Huntington Hills Playhouse as a resident actor.
She then moved to Manhattan and worked as an actress appearing in soap operas, including “All My Children,” and “One Life to Live,” in feature films and in Off Broadway plays. She has also taught acting classes for opera stars and Shakespearean actors.
Rand had returned to Bradley Beach in 2001 to care for her mother, who had Alzheimers, and later wrote a play about her experiences titled “Sunrise, Sunset” which has been performed in Asbury Park and in New York City.
Rand said she chose “The Trip to Bountiful” because elderly relatives living with family members has become a common occurrence.
“I think it’s a timely play. I like to pick plays that I think are going to teach people something,” she said.
Last year the group performed “The Diary of Anne Frank,” and an upcoming project, the children’s opera “Brundibar,” is an anti bullying piece.
“I like to choose things that have value,” she said.
All BBAC programs are free of charge with a free will offering suggested.
The play begins at 7 p.m.