Moving Photographs of Vanishing Georgia

Wednesday, October 2, 2019
News 12 this Morning

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Moving Photographs of Vanishing Georgia, a play created by local professor that is gaining national attention and sparking controversy.

Augusta University senior and archivist in the Moving Photos of Vanishing Georgia, Rachel Visintainer explains how the play is not ordinary.

"The roles that we portray aren't really set in stone they are very malleable so we kind a take on the personas and characters of different characters in the photographs that we're portraying."

In Moving Photographs of Vanishing Georgia, Dr. Melanie O'Meara uses photos to tell Georgia's history.
She mainly focuses on Richmond County.

"My idea of history is not this kind a linear story sure something happened in 1880 and then something happened in 1890 but history is really messy because a lot of voices a lot of stories a lot of things are left out of the dominant narrative," says Assistant professor of performance studies, Dr. Melanie O'Meara.

To bring her work to life Dr. O'Meara picked fifty photographs from an archive of 18,000 private photos collected in Georgia from 1977 to 1996, leaving gaps in her script for her students to help tell the story.

"I was really excited to get to play with photographs to think about our photograph has a life after it's left the hand of the original owner, what does it mean to the rest of the world what does it mean to our community 100 years later or 120 years later. I really appreciated that we got to highlight voices that wouldn't have necessarily been highlighted at the time of the photographs were taken," explains Edgar Miles, Augusta University senior and actor.
AU sophomore and actress, Trenijah Griffen adds,
"My favorite aspect of the play is really looking at the photographs and seeing what you can find and what you can bring out of this photograph to let the audience know that this is important and why is it important."

Each scene evokes different emotions and the cast members like Kayla Johnson say they aim to keep the audience on their toes.

"To be incredibly blunt people of different ethnic backgrounds see things differently. So what we hear is this idea that the scene is pretty or it looks nice and it's supposed to be uncomfortable," says Johnson.

O'Meara tells News 12 that discomfort is not a bad thing.

"The theater that I like to do is typically nontraditional, not realistic, I like the sort of play and a stylized method in the theater so I'm always hoping to make people feel a little bit uncomfortable."

So far, the play has been presented to audiences in Georgia and Louisiana. O'Meara and her crew hope to have more opportunities to showcase the production.

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