'Promise of a Love Song' brings cultural drama, diversity to Tennessee Tech

From the Appalachian mountains to the southern African American communities to the Puerto Rican neighborhoods in New York City, "Promise of a Love Song" promises stories of love and diversity told from three distinct perspectives in three tales.

The stories, told through music and drama by three cultural theater groups working together as one, make up "Promise of a Love Song" to be performed free and to the public on Monday, Sept. 25, at 7 p.m. at the Backdoor Playhouse at Tennessee Tech University. Seating is limited, so persons are asked to arrive early to secure a seat.

"This is a unique opportunity for our community by bringing three diverse cultures together in one setting to share their stories to help us understand their own voices and to also understand their struggles," said Ada Haynes, professor of sociology at TTU.

"Promise of a Love Song" is a tapestry of stories told from very specific realities and worlds and performed by three theater groups: Junebug Productions, an African American theater company of New Orleans; Teatro Pregones, a Puerto Rican theater ensemble of the Bronx, N.Y.; and Roadside Theater, an Appalachian theater ensemble from Whitesburg, Ky.

The three groups are traveling together as the ensembleThe Exchange Project and "Promise of a Love Song" developed out of a four-year exchange among the artists of the three companies and their home communities.

"Three potent love stories emerge as these accomplished actors create vivid characters to tell stories unique to their own cultural experiences. Taken together, these poignant, funny and intimate moments, create a weaving with its own tale to tell about diversity," stated one review.

Musicians from three traditions also meet on stage to discover how rhythms and music illuminate the strengths, struggles, similarities and differences of these cultures. Their musical collaboration tells these love stories with harmonies and rhythms that touch our souls, added another reviewer.

The three stories to be performed: "Charming Billy," a relationship between a mother and her mentally disabled son, Billy, living in the mountains of Appalachia; "Star Crossed Lovers," which tells the story of a young lawyer who falls in love with a young Civil Rights activist from New Orleans she is assigned to defend; and "Silent Dancing," a story about a Puerto Rican woman who remembers her childhood through letters she finds tied up with a red ribbon.

"'Promise of a Love Song' brings us three strong, diverse, powerful cultural love stories and, in so doing, deepens our understanding of the struggles and joys of the people in these tales," Haynes said. "It is a musical play that reaches a magical point of communication, mutual respect and understanding."

The play is suitable for all audiences, but is not recommended for very small children. Seating is limited but there is no admission fee. This play is a Center Stage event and is sponsored by TTU's Departments of Sociology and History.