The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Piano Lesson teaches culture, history on South

Wesley Harris (left), playing the part of Boy Willie, and Tommie Cook, Doaker, practice their lines for the upcoming South production. The Piano Lesson opens Feb. 23 and runs until Feb. 25.
Wesley Harris (left), playing the part of Boy Willie, and Tommie Cook, Doaker, practice their lines for the upcoming South production. The Piano Lesson opens Feb. 23 and runs until Feb. 25.

By Mona Lisa Tucker/south news editor

The story of an African-American family struggling to survive in a world that doesn’t support its culture or traditions runs Feb. 23-25 in the South Campus Performing Arts Center.

Theater director Lindy Benton-Muller said she found a production of The Piano Lesson by August Wilson and has been teaching from it. Furthermore, she learned the play was actually written for actor Charles Dutton, who went from jail to Yale.

“The Charles Dutton thing drew me to it because of his extraordinary life story,” Muller said. “He discovered theater while in prison quite by accident, and it changed his life. It excited him so much that he started directing plays in prison.”

His jail experience also brought an interest in education.

Doaker, played by Tommie Cook, comforts Bernice, played by Andria Buckner, during a rehearsal of the South Campus production of The Piano Lesson.
Photos by David Reid/The Collegian

“He went from that back to his community college, finished up his associate degree then went and did his bachelor’s degree,” she said. “Then he wasn’t quite sure what to do and a friend suggested, ‘Why don’t you apply to Yale?’”

Dutton was accepted. He went from there to Broadway and motion pictures, Muller said.

“I’ve used him as an example for years,” she said.

South student Shandra Leveritt plays Grace, the love interest of Lymon and Boy Willie at different times.

“I look at her character as she’s more forward thinking,” Leveritt said. “Women were more of the domesticated side. Grace is more of a party girl. She’s more of a modern woman, and she’s a complete opposite to Bernice.”

Student Wallace Akins, who plays Wining Boy, said his character is smooth.

“He is like a free spirit,” Akins said. “He goes where he wants, does what he does, but people love him.”

Student Wesley Harris plays Boy Willie, Bernice’s younger brother.

“He’s a determined young man,” Harris said. “He has his mind made up on what he’s going to do, and he’s not easily deterred. He’s a bit of a bully but good-hearted.”

Harris said this is a great story and the perfect time to do it because February is Black History Month.

“It really preaches heritage, forward movement,” he said.

Student Andria Buckner, who plays Boy Willie’s sister Bernice, said the piao plays a big part in the family’s story.

Wesley Harris (left), playing the part of Boy Willie, and Tommie Cook, Doaker, practice their lines for the upcoming South production. The Piano Lesson opens Feb. 23 and runs until Feb. 25.

“They’re at odds because he wants to sell the piano that is featured in the play, and she doesn’t want to sell it,” Buckner said. “She attributes her late husband’s death to him, and so there’s a lot of animosity there.”

Buckner said Bernice also has an 11-year-old daughter.

“She’s trying to hold it down like a widow, living with her uncle,” Buckner said.

Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts student Heaven DeLeon plays Bernice’s daughter.

“It’s a good experience for me, and it’s like a lesson in life,” she said.

Student Tommie Cook, who plays Doaker, said his character explains the history concerning the piano and the way it was obtained.

He wants attendees to pay close attention to the concepts of The Piano Lesson.

“I hope they can see what the past was and how can they change it in the future,” he said.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. with no late seating. Tickets are free for TCC students, faculty and staff, $6 for general public and $3 for seniors and other students.

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