This month, a play built around the Black history of the past 50 years of Columbus is being produced at MadLab Theatre.
“Snowville Cafe” was written by local playwright, Julie Whitney-Scott, who grew up on the near East side of Columbus.
The play is about a fictional restaurant in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Columbus, taking place from 1970-2015. The story centers on a fictional couple, but with real-life events in mind.
“It’s the back-and-forth history of how we as Black people felt about things in our community,” said Whitney-Scott. “I started to think about all of the decades that I’ve lived here in Columbus. And the different things that have happened and shaped Columbus. Some things have changed, and some still remain.”
James Blackmon is the director of the play that is held inside the intimate 60-seat MadLab Theatre.
“I want you to laugh. I want you to cry. I want you to walk out, feeling something and have to realize something or give you something to think about for weeks to come,” said Blackmon. “I don’t want to be too lofty but I do want you to take something to your heart and your head that you remember. And not just how it made you feel, but those feelings that inspired some kind of thought about it.”
For those who have lived in Columbus for decades, you’ll remember key moments, people and places. For those newer to the area, it provides a history lesson of sorts through the eyes of the characters.
“There’s a line in the play were one of the guys the scenes from the 1970s says ‘I don’t know if I want to be in my home after dark so I may never move to Whitehall’. And I thought really? Just the fact that that’s what Whitehall used to be and what it is now,” said Blackmon.
The play doesn’t shy away from tough topics, like redlining, blockbusting, and abortion. That’s because talking about them then and now is important, as is having places like a “Snowville Cafe” to discuss those issues with others.
“Just that whole spirit of people being able to come together, know each other and just talk about what’s happening politically or what’s happening socially or what’s happening in their own lives,” said Whitney-Scott.
Snowville Cafe runs at MadLab Theatre October 10-11 and October 17-18. All shows begin at 8 p.m. You can find ticket information here: http://madlab.net/tickets.html