By Carter Bibb
Corrected on Oct. 6 at 9:56 a.m. to reflect that “Pill Hill” features six main characters, not seven as a pervious version of this article stated, has two acts, not three as a pervious version of this article stated, and is set in a basement, not a bar as a pervious version of this article stated.
The University of Montevallo Theatre Department’s production of “Pill Hill,” is premiering Oct. 5 and will run until Oct. 8 at UM’s Center for the Arts. The play is directed by theatre Professor Chalethia Williams. “Pill Hill” stars Brandon Bird, Tyler Rice, Nick Johnson, Paul Hall, Jordan Hall and Romeo Grant.
“Pill Hill,” written by Sam Kelley and first premiered in 1993, follows the lives of six Black steel mill workers as they follow their own individual hopes and dreams, and takes place over two acts.
The play is minimalistic, with only six main characters appearing on stage and set entirely within a basement located in the eponymous Pill Hill—a wealthy majority white neighborhood, deriving its name from number of upper-class doctors that live there.
According to Williams, she is highly appreciative of the ways that her actors have acclimated to the setting. While no one in the cast was alive during the time period the play is set in, the cast and crew have worked to establish that the history explored in the play is still affecting them in the modern day.
Elaborating on the historical aspect of the story, Williams said, “The beginning of it, in ’73, has a lot of things about the civil rights movement. It happened just before that.”
Her hope is that the cast and crew, through working with each other and connecting with the themes of the play, gain a new perspective on their own history as well.
As with all theatre productions, this one also brought a diverse group of people with it, many of whom had not known one another until they met during rehearsals.
“Initially, it’s a new time for everyone. We’re getting together, we don’t know each other, we’ve never worked with each other before,” Williams said.
Williams also had to acclimate herself to the play. Despite having seen it once before in the 90s, there were many things she found she had forgotten about the plot and characters, offering a new perspective on a story which she had not thought about for over 30 years.
Williams, when asked why people should come see the play, said, “The takeaway that I wanted from audiences as well as the cast is to understand better how we are all the same […] We all suffer the same.”
“Pill Hill” will premiere on Oct. 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the Michael and Sue Meadows Black Box Theatre. Additional showings will occur on Oct. 6 at 7 p.m,. Oct. 7 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 8 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets can be bought at montevallotickets.universitytickets.com.