Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer|
Vera Buckner, who wrote a play based on the book of Ruth, practices with her actors in preparation for Sunday’s show at Princess Theatre.
Words for women
Decatur woman turns life’s struggles into modern-day play based on book of Ruth
By Patrice Stewart
Vera Buckner knows what it’s like to be a twice-divorced woman raising three children alone while working and trying to get more education.
But she still found time to write a play about the loss of self-respect that results when women make bad choices in life.
“Woman, What Are You Worth?” will be staged Sunday at 5 p.m. at Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts.
“I went through a divorce a few years ago while raising my daughters, now 11 and 15,” said the 40-year-old single mom. She hit a low point in her life and lost weight and self-esteem.
“God woke me up one night with a vision for a play, and I just started writing,” Buckner said. “Now people are telling me to write about this and that, and I tell them I don’t write plays; God writes plays.”
Daily photo by Brennen Smith|
Shelton and Volandria Cotner of Hillsboro rehearse a scene from the play “Woman, What Are You Worth?” at Pleasant Grove Church in Courtland.
Some good things came from her difficult times, Buckner said, “like taking in a foster daughter and writing this play. Maybe God had to take me through some things to get me to where I am.”
Right now, that’s running between play rehearsals to distribute fliers and handle ticket sales, while juggling her job at Benchmark Electronics in Huntsville and her weekend work at Essence Beauty Salon in Hillsboro.
A 1985 graduate of Courtland High School, she lives in Decatur now.
“When I was going through this devastating divorce, I was going to school to learn to do hair,” she said. “I nearly quit, but I managed to stick it out and graduate from Calhoun Community College.
“I know how good I feel when I get my hair done. It gives women self-confidence,” she said, and she wanted to be part of that.
The focus of the play, she said, is “staying committed and waiting on God to give you an answer. A lot of times we give up on God and just look for a male, because we get impatient.”
While the play is based on the book of Ruth, she puts her biblical characters in modern settings.
“We’ll go out in the world and show you around the club scene, work scene, commuting, church, a funeral, drugs, gossip and a grandmother trying to raise her grandchildren, and then we’ll bring you back to where you need to be,” said Buckner.
Janet Puryear of Courtland knows her favorite part in “Woman, What Are You Worth?”
“It’s when I confess I was leading the girls the wrong way by telling them that without a man, they were nothing.”
With four sons and a daughter-in-law, she is equipped to play the biblical role of Naomi, the mother-in-law who has a bitter spirit after losing a husband and two sons.
Daily photo by Brennen Smith|
Michandria Mason and Chimere Mitchell rehearse a scene from “Woman, What Are You Worth?” at Pleasant Grove Church in Courtland.
“I think this play is a good way to take the word to people that no matter what you have been through in life, God can turn your life around,” Puryear said.
The play was first staged in April at the church Buckner has attended all her life, Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist in Courtland. Then she decided to take her “humorous yet spiritual” show that brings Ruth, Naomi, Oprah and Boaz to life to a bigger venue.
Her pastor, the Rev. Marcus Davidson of Decatur, said she “is helping us take (God’s) word to people who might not come into a church building.”
Buckner was also inspired to write her first song for the play: “When a Man Finds a Wife, He Finds a Good Thing.”
“The best thing about this play is that it shows what women need and how they ought to live their lives,” said stage manager Tezzie McDaniel of Athens, who is working on about 14 scenes set inside modern houses and buildings.
“Girls today sometimes pick guys who beat on them and use them,” he said. “This lets them know that there’s more to life than what they’re going through now.”
Shelton and Volandria Cotner of Hillsboro are the couple playing the roles of Boaz and Ruth.
“Ruth is relying on God to send her the right man, instead of going out to find one on her own,” she said. “The first time we performed the play, we saw the impact it had on some women.
“Vera uses some of her own experiences to show you can overcome things and be stronger — you don’t have to stay in your past,” she said.
Her husband plays the rich, laid-back Boaz who recognizes the good qualities in Ruth.
“I think a lot of people will be helped by this,” he said.
Buckner also put her 15-year-old daughter in the play.
“She plays a wild girl who wears as few clothes as possible to get attention from the guys, but in the end she realizes it’s better to cover up and wait on God to send you your Boaz,” said Buckner.
“I’ve got all the young girls saying ‘I’m waiting on my Boaz.’ ”
Information will be available in the lobby on topics such as education and GED, job placement, mental health services, child support, foster care, adoption and youth services.
“I want more Christian people to open their homes to adoption and foster care,” said Buckner.
She went through specialized training as a foster parent before taking in a teenage girl “and teaching her respect for herself and others.”
Ken Orr and the Orr Sisters will entertain at intermission. He will sing a song he has recorded about opening doors for adoption and foster care. Door prizes will be given away, too.
If you go
What: “Woman, What Are You Worth?” play by Vera Buckner and a group from Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church
When: Sunday; doors open at 4 p.m. and the play begins at 5
Where: Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts
Tickets: $15 in advance by calling 345-5675 or going by L Salon on Sixth Avenue Southeast in Decatur, or $20 at the door.
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