By Adam Messer
Ama and the White Crane”tells the tale of a young woman’s journey to save her town from an evil demon that is killing the fish in her village, and therefore, threatening their very survival.
“We’ve been presenting live productions most weekends since our grand reopening, including live music, stand-up comedy and a couple of stage plays, including Neil Simon’s ‘The Last of the Red Hot Lovers’ and Savannah Shakes’ production of ‘Hamlet,’” Turner said.
They invited the Islands High School drama club to stage their production of “Ama and the White Crane” at the theater after Turner saw they did not have their own auditorium and stage.
“They had launched a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money for royalties, and I saw it on Facebook and reached out to Julie,” she said. “We wanted to support their efforts and give them a grand stage on which to perform, and they are very excited and inspired.”
Organizers hope to reach out to the community partners and fill the theater with families to enjoy the production.
“We hope they will keep coming back for other programming,” she said. “This is the just the first of a full slate of family-friendly programming we will present this year. During the summer, we will have daily children’s movies and some live educational entertainment as well. Think storytelling and song with an educational theme.”
Sukman spent 23 years in New York City as a working actress appearing in numerous plays, television shows and films. She who won a Best Actress award from the Hamptons Film Festival in 1997 for the film “Upstate.” She trained as an actress at the conservatory program at SUNY Purchase and earned her master’s degree in teaching drama from SCAD. She will be starring as Linda Loman in the Collective Face Theatre Company’s upcoming production of “Death of a Salesman” in February and March.
“I chose this play for a few reasons,” Sukman said. “We started the school year studying Eastern drama and this play is inspired by Kabuki theatre. The casting was very flexible and I wasn’t sure if we would have a theater space, and it was suitable for great simplicity or something more. I wanted the students to work on something that would be appropriate for a young audience so that we could share it with our ‘next-door’ schools: Marshpoint and Coastal.
“We currently do not have a theater space of our own and we needed flexibility to move it around if need be. When Tybee Post stepped in and offered their theater, we were absolutely thrilled and the students were extremely excited to have a real theater in which to work.”
The play is humorous, but also deals with issues we all face throughout life.
“For instance, there are scenes when the characters fly on the bird, White Crane, who is Ama’s puppet best friend (becoming real through her imagination.) One of the challenges we all face, but especially teenagers, is to maintain our individual spirits, our ‘true identities’ if you will, in the face of adversity.
“I also love that her grandfather sends her on her journey and — even though it sounds ridiculous to go talk to a mountain — she has great love for him; she trusts him; and so she goes. I just lost my father this week and the meaning of that scene now resounds very deeply for me.”
As her first student production, she said there are some unique features of working with students compared to other actors.
“I’ve gotten tons of support from family members of my students and other faculty at the school who have donated time, labor and materials,” Sukman said. “My actors have been terrific and it can be challenging for them having to balance school, other after-school activities, family, etc. and be able to devote time to rehearsals. Sometimes the focus goes a little haywire, for all of us, and it can be a challenge arranging times and commitments.”
The title character, Ama, offers a good role model for all ages.
“Her character is one of great spirit and imagination,” she said. “On her journey, she finds friendship while maintaining her identity as a loving daughter and creative soul.”