And They Dance Real Slow in Jackson
THE STORY: In Jackson, a small town in rural Indiana, Elizabeth Ann Willow lives with her father and mother. Crippled at birth with polio, Elizabeth Ann is confined to a wheelchair and must wear leg braces, which cuts her off from the other children and prevents her regular attendance at school. Although she tries to reach out and make friends, Elizabeth Ann is increasingly isolated from and then taunted by the others, whose small-town prejudices are reinforced by a polio scare, of which Elizabeth Ann is a chilling embodiment. Comprised of a brilliantly conceived mosaic of interlocking scenes which move back and forth in time, with four performers portraying a varied assortment of children and townspeople, the play captures not only the moving story of Elizabeth Ann’s inexorable descent into madness, but also the small-mindedness and unfeeling callousness of her fellow townspeople—whose fear of the unknown or abnormal makes them the unintentional agents of her destruction. Culminating in a chilling scene in which Elizabeth Ann’s leg braces are torn from her by a frenzied mob, the play becomes in the final essence a moving and poetically evocative plea for understanding and compassion in a world where prejudice and casual cruelty are too often the norm.
A powerful, haunting memory play offering a vivid and deeply affecting account of the agonies inflicted on a young crippled girl growing up in a small—and small-minded—Indiana town. Winner of the American College Festival Award, the play has enjoyed widespread acceptance among leading regional theatres. “…taut and startling stagecraft…” —Washington Post. “…a showcase for exceptional acting, clever and effective staging, and forceful dialogue.” —Washington Tribune. “Leonard has an exceptional ear for dialogue, both prosaic and poetic.” —Washington Times.