Around Tallassee, it’s often referred to as “the Tecumseh play.”
However, the official name for the upcoming revised drama that chronicles an important event in Tallassee’s history is now “…And One Fire Still Burns.”
The local presentation has undergone some streamlining but also has some new innovations that have been implemented by the Friends of Tuckabatchee, the nonprofit organization that sponsors the show.
The play was first performed as “Tecumseh at Tuckabatchee…And One Fire Still Burns”in2011 (the bicentennial of the legendary Shawnee warrior’s visit to the Muscogee Creek capital of Tuckabatchee).
Since then, it has been staged several times at its original outdoor location at the Patterson Cabin in east Tallassee. It was also presented outdoors on the grounds of the Horseshoe Bend National Military Park near Dadeville, validating the production could be “taken on the road.”
Until this year, the play had been presented indoors only once due to circumstances caused by Mother Nature. In 2014, several hundred members of the Muscogee Creek tribe in Oklahoma traveled to this area to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. The drama was to have been staged at the military park but thunderstorms on the day of the event canceled the outdoor performance.
Rapidly improvising, the cast and crew set up the stage in Tallassee High School auditorium and staged the drama that night as a private performance for tribe members only. The warm reception to the play by the visitors from Oklahoma was gratifying; one cast member said it was one of the most meaningful and memorable evenings of his entire life. The rescheduled Horseshoe Bend performance happened a few weeks later.
Of course, the Friends of Tuckabatchee have been involved with other local plays in the last few years, but this weekend’s three performances will mark the first time a version of “the Tecumseh play” has been presented at the historic Mt. Vernon Theater downtown.
So, the Mt. Vernon venue means weather won’t be a factor. What’s more, the idea of performing the drama at another Tallassee landmark is a good thing. The theater has been restored in a configuration that enables the facility to proffer plays and concerts in addition to showing movies.
The Mt. Vernon reopened in early 2018 after half a century. The World War II period musical that was staged for the grand reopening validated at the very outset that such productions will be right at home on that venue’s stage.
Moreover, some of the facets of the theater’s configuration should enhance the performances. Whenever the play has been performed outdoors, the sound was provided by a portable rig. However, the Mt. Vernon Theatre has a permanent state-of-the-art sound system.
What’s more, this will be the first time that the play has utilized stage lighting for dramatic effect — there’s also a state-of-the-art lighting system in place at the Mt. Vernon. Spotlights have always been critical components of the production, particularly at outdoor presentations, but colored lighting above the stage can and does embellish certain dramatic moments, particularly during some of the monologues. Coordinating what visual effect to use with a particular part of the script and timing it exactly right has also been an important part of rehearsals at the theater.
There are some old familiar faces in the cast, still doing justice to the roles in which they’ve been ensconced for a number of years.
Other cast members are new and have been handling their thespian assignments in a responsible manner.
There are even a couple of examples of “next generation” cast members — their parents have been in past productions and/or are in the current cast, and now the offspring are onstage as well.
The idea of a presentation for schools only on Friday is also a good educational opportunity.
For all of its changes, however, “…And One Fire Still Burns”remains an interesting and honest portrayal of local times over 200 years ago.
Supporting the local play and theater also makes financial sense — consider the cost of a ticket compared to the cost of a trip to see a movie in Montgomery (gas, ticket, snack bar).
And the popcorn’s cheaper at the Mt. Vernon, too. Hope to see you there this weekend.