“Hill Fire: Tangled Roots” will open this Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center in downtown Winona. This folk life play is based on the memoir of award-winning Mississippi author, Elizabeth Spencer who was born and raised in the small Mississippi communities of Carrollton, McCarley, and Teoc. Spencer left her hometown after graduating high school, but she never forgot her Mississippi roots. In 1998, she published her memoir, “Landscapes of the Heart”, where she reflects on the time she spent with family and friends.
As “Tangled Roots” opens, Elizabeth (Savannah Roberson) is found gathering her thoughts about the simpler times during her childhood days. She thinks about her younger self and remembers her grandfather, who she lovingly refers to as “Gan”. Her bond with the only grandparent she ever knew is evident as her thoughts come to life. A young Elizabeth (Alison Goldwater) and Gan (Larry Emmons) break a rule or two when they venture across the creek into “North Town” on a Sunday, which was forbidden in the Spencer home. Elizabeth remembers being an avid reader as a young child and that she could be found with a book in her hand no matter where she went- even while spending a lazy summer day at Shaw’s Pond with friends, which she did quite often. As Elizabeth continues to look back, she remembers the escapades of some of the colorful characters who lived in the small community, including Aunt Lucy Breckenridge (Shon Forrest), Henrietta Welch (Sara Evans), Beauregard Somerville (Phyllis Minga), Edith Erskine (Kay Emmons), Nora Gee (Heather Cain), Halle Eggleston (Amy Roberson), Frances Eggleston (Ashlee Roberson), the Littleton family, and her uncle and aunt, Joe (Colt Tabor) and Esther McCain (Gracie Kilburn). The story comes to a close as a young Elizabeth makes a discovery that will change the rest of her life.
Other cast members include Paula McCaulla, Lora Cain, Lukas Cain, Dakavia Battles, Cody Goss, and Anna Hope Bell.
Show dates are Friday, March 5 at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 6 at 7 p.m., and Sunday, March 7 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and will be available at the door. This performance is not suitable for small children.