Playwright John Culbertson said his new play, “The Scarlett Girls,” is based on actual events, though nothing in his play actually happened.
“The Scarlett Girls” world premiere is at 8 p.m. Friday at Macon Little Theatre. Culbertson will be available afterward for a discussion and champagne reception.
“That’s right,” Culbertson said in a phone interview from his native Greenville, S.C. “ ’Scarlett Girls’ is based on actual events, but nothing in my play actually happened.”
He explained the play comes from something he read regarding the movie “Gone with the Wind.”
“I read talent scouts toured Georgia to discover a new starlet to play Scarlett O’Hara,” he said. “It was probably only a publicity stunt, but it got me thinking they must have run into some really crazy stuff and wild characters on their search. The play is me putting that idea in motion.”
Last season, Macon Little Theatre performed Culbertson’s “Messiah on the Frigidaire,” which he also attended. The theater's artistic manager, Sylvia Hayne, is director of the new play’s first-ever production.
“When we were doing ‘Messiah on the Frigidaire,’ Culbertson mentioned a new play he was working on,” she said. “We’re especially honored to produce its premier and that he’s making the trip to be with us opening night. I thoroughly enjoy his wit and sense of humor.”
“The Scarlett Girls” is set in Georgia in 1936 in the fictional rural community of Gideon.
Culbertson said it’s his first period piece.
“I didn’t realize how difficult that would be,” he said. “I had to research little things like, ‘Did they wear ponytails?’ It took way more time and work.”
Culbertson said he’s looking forward to feedback from the Macon audience. He said it’s always interesting to hear what individuals get out of a play since each person views a work differently. But he said the Friday exchange will be more than that.
“This isn’t just the first time ‘The Scarlett Girls’ is being performed,” he said. “ ’Scarlett Girls’ hasn’t even had an open read-through yet. I usually do a read-through with friends who give thoughts and point things out I may have missed. That makes our discussion in Macon really interesting to me.”
Could comments lead to real changes in a re-write?
“Oh yeah,” Culbertson said. “The play hasn’t even gotten to the publisher yet so, sure, there might be changes from it. I won’t have a deaf ear to something that might lead to the best possible experience for audiences down the road.”
"The Scarlett Girls"
Where: Macon Little Theatre, 4220 Forsyth Rd.
When: 8 p.m. May 11-12 and 16-19; 2:30 p.m. May 13, 20
Cost: $20 general admission, $15 seniors 60 and older, $10 students 23 and younger
Information: 478-471-7529, www.maconlittletheatre.org