by John Pitcher
Suddenly, a lone black woman emerges in the center of the circle and begins to sway, as if seized by a spirit. But it's no Holy Ghost. The woman, Virginia Creeper, evokes Prince Zandor. "Ahhhhhh, Preenze ZAAAHN-dohr!" the others repeat in a zombie monotone. Zandor, aka Ti-Jean-Petro, is a prince of darkness, a Cajun phantom, a voodoo spirit. Right now, his magic is badly needed.
"We are building a nation, we are building an erasure," exclaims Creeper, her Southern drawl conjuring at that moment both Zandor and the resurrected spirit of the abolitionist leader John Brown. "An erasure of John C. Calhoun, may he rest in peace; an erasure of the Kansas-Nebraska Act." A young black man, Sam, finally makes his appearance. He's late. And he's forgotten his cotton branch. Creeper places a hand on his shoulder.
"No!" cries John Hoomes, his own lyrical Alabama accent now stopping the action. "You've got to grab him by the scruff of the neck and drag him to the spot."
Hoomes, Nashville Opera's longtime artistic director, is meticulously rehearsing the first Nashville production of The Difficulty of Crossing a Field, which runs Friday through Sunday at the Noah Liff Opera Center. This unusual work, which is neither fully an opera nor a play, has been justifiably described as a kind of cross between Gone With the Wind and The Twilight Zone.
Read the whole story here, and check out the documentary short above made to coincide with the production.