‘Road to Mecca” on stage Wednesday at Miners Foundry | TheUnion.com

‘Road to Mecca” on stage Wednesday at Miners Foundry

Submitted to Prospector
Michael Moerman, Rene Sprattling and Lindsay Dunckel from "The Road to Mecca" pause before their show Wednesday at Miners Foundry.
Sandra Rockman |


WHAT: Sierra Stages and Miners Foundry present Theater By the Book: The Road To Mecca

WHEN: Wednesday, Jan. 13, Doors 7 p.m., Show 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Miners Foundry, 325 Spring St., Nevada City

TICKETS: $10 Suggested Donation, Tickets are available online at www.minersfoundry.org, by phone at (530) 265-5040 or in person at the Miners Foundry

Coming off of a critically acclaimed sold-out run of the musical “Falsettos,” Sierra Stages and director Sandra Rockman take on the modern classic “The Road to Mecca,” written by Athol Fugard, in the next installment of “Theater By the Book,” a series of informal play readings for the community, presented at the Miners Foundry Cultural Center.

“The Road to Mecca” was inspired by the true story of Helen Martins who lived in Nieu-Bethesda, Eastern Cape, South Africa and created The Owl House, now a national monument.

After her husband’s death, Miss Helen lives alone and transforms her home into a work of art by creating a myriad of cement wise men, camels, owls, mermaids, and other figurines. She begins to face mounting pressure to abandon her independent life for a church retirement home. Out of desperation, she calls upon her only confidant, a fiery young teacher from Cape Town, named Elsa.

When the village minister arrives to coax out her decision, the three enter a blazing showdown that pits conformity against free expression — faith in community against faith in oneself.

“This play is written by one of the finest modern playwrights — Athol Fugard,” says Rockman. “He is South African and manages to involve us in dramas that are at one and the same — specific to the problems of an emerging nation with racial issues underlying all — combined with universal themes that we can all relate to.”

“The Road to Mecca” features local actors Michael Moerman, Rene Sprattling and Lindsay Dunkel reading the parts of pastor Marius Byleveld, Helen, and Elsa, respectively. Rockman has worked with Moerman and Sprattling off and on since their years at Foothill Theater Company, and Dunkel meet Rockman while performing in Our Town. It was Moerman who asked Rockman if she would direct the play.

“In addition to Fugard’s ability to meld history and biography, I was attracted to ‘The Road to Mecca’ by its feminist qualities,” explains Moerman. “Miss Helen and Elsa are strong and sometimes surprising characters whose complex and compelling relationship is the play’s dramatic center. I also thought that Miss Helen’s discovery of her artistry and passion late in life would resonate with many of us who have come to Nevada County and done exactly that.”

Now in its third year, the “Theater By The Book “series has proven to be a wonderful opportunity for both theater buffs looking to get their mid season fix and new audiences interested in learning more about theater.

The readings do not require a set, costumes, or any of the normal trappings of a full production instead the audience can focus on the richness of the story. It also allows the theater group to try out new material on audiences.

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