Reese Johnson’s acting skills have been put to the test while preparing for the Augusta Junior Players’ upcoming production of “Ghost.”
“I haven’t had to deal with same struggles Castle has,” said Johnson, an Augusta Christian School student who plays the lead role in the play that will be performed at the Kroc Center Feb. 9-10. “This is such a challenging role…It’s not my life. It has been challenging, but it’s been so fun and so rewarding.”
Based on a book by Jason Reynolds, “Ghost” is written by Idris Goodwin. It’s about Castle Crenshaw, a middle school student also known as Ghost. He’s been running all his life, but for all the wrong reasons, according to the book synopsis at Simon and Schuster’s website. Then he meets Coach, an Olympic medalist who can see Castle’s raw talent.
Many Augusta Junior Players productions have student-only casts; however, this one has a couple of adults in roles, and they can relate more to the struggles the characters face.
“Castle’s mom is in an abusive relationship. I was in an abusive relationship, and I was raising a teen-ager boy as single mom,” said Kimberly Thomas, who plays Castle’s mom. She brings her life experience to the role.
While Spc. Jarrett Jackson, who plays Coach, hasn’t had the same life experience as his character, he can relate to the underlying currents in the script.
“There’s not a monolithic, universal young Black man experience, but I was at one point a young Black man with the same pressure and societal expectations,” he said.
For director Roy Lewis, he’s glad some of the cast — especially the teenagers — can’t relate directly to the characters.
He wants to develop empathy within them, he said.
Each February, Lewis bring a play to the stage that has a social justice element to it, and “Ghost” brings that message as well.
Jackson said Lewis does an excellent job in directing the cast and helping them see their characters through the eyes of their character rather than their own life filters.
“It’s nice because Roy’s great. Coach is very much like my dad,” said Jackson, who added that most of his previous roles have been comedic ones so doing a dramatic role is stretching his abilities as well.
Another student seeing things from a different angle in the play is Madelyn Baker, who attends Harlem High School. She’s usually acting in plays, but for this one, she’s student directing and using the experience for her senior project.
“It’s definitely different. It’s very fun since it is such a different experience. I get to see things from another perspective,” she said. “It’s like Intern teaching. He’s (Lewis) showing me how directing works. It’s intricate. Instead of just going to rehearsal and having directors tell you what to do, you’re the one telling people what to do.”
“Ghost” will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 9 and 4 and 7 p.m. Feb. 10. For tickets, go here.
Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News and Inspiring: Women of Augusta, has covered Augusta’s news for 35 years. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign up for the newsletter here.
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