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Actress Simone Searcy, Denise McCosh, and Julie Pratt play sisters in the Sauk’s per­for­mance of “The Flower Girls”. Courtesy | The Sauk

Hillsdale County’s com­munity theater, The Sauk, mounted the world pre­miere of Lindsay McNair Patton’s “The Flower Girls”, last weekend.

The play fol­lowed the story of three semi-estranged sisters, Violet, Rose, and Lily, who come together for one night after years of not speaking to one another. The ensuing chaos includes fights, power outages, a potential pot brownie, scrabble, and several bottles of wine. Within the first fifteen minutes of the curtain rising, it was apparent that this show had cap­ti­vated the audience, as they were already rolling in laughter, and soon there­after, tears. As the sisters talk, and shout, through their issues, pro­voking various degrees of catharsis in their audience, they explore themes of sex­u­ality, moth­erhood, love, and courage.

Among these, the show par­tic­u­larly fixated on the theme of family, and exactly how far one can go and still be wel­comed back into theirs. Patton answers this question with a firm “never far enough.”

Julie Pratt, the actress who por­trayed the middle sister, Rose, said that this play was an illu­mi­nating expe­rience for her.

“This show opened up my mind and reminded me about per­spective and per­ception,” Pratt said. “In every dis­agreement and every argument it is easy to dig in your heels and say ‘my per­spective is right’ but it’s just one person’s view.  Although hard, we have to con­sider the other person’s per­spective. When we do, peace and rec­on­cil­i­ation can happen. I think all of us need reminders to do this in our own sibling and family rela­tion­ships.”

This sen­timent embodies the Sauk’s goal as a theater. According to its mission statement, it aims to “enrich our com­munity through shared the­atrical expe­ri­ences that inspire, nurture, chal­lenge and educate artists and audi­ences.”

Sophomore Kirby Thigpen ven­tured forth from campus to see “The Flower Girls”  Sat­urday night, and she said that the themes struck her per­sonally.

“The play actually really made me think about how I have treated my sib­lings, and how I could def­i­nitely keep up with them better now that we are all going our sep­arate ways,” Thigpen said. “It really does speak to a problem that everyone who has sib­lings has. It was also great to get out into the com­munity and engage with the culture outside the college.”

The Sauk also carries out this objective by giving beginner and unpro­duced play­wrights the chance to see their work carried to fruition, according to Trinity Bird, director of “Flower Girls,”

“We strongly believe the future of the theatre is dependent on encour­aging and nur­turing new works,” Bird said. “We annually produce new works by local, national, and inter­na­tional writers in our Sauk Shorts, an annual evening of 10-minute plays. Then, each summer, we bring play­wrights on site for Plays-in-Devel­opment. We provide the writers the oppor­tunity to receive feedback from a director, actors, and audience to help improve their plays. ‘The Flower Girls’ started in this program. To see the play go from plot outline to staged reading to full pro­duction has been an amazing expe­rience.”

This ded­i­cation to budding artists has won the Sauk some national esteem. It has been selected as one of six the­aters in the country to produce one of the American Asso­ci­ation of Com­munity Theatre New Play Fest award-winning plays in 2020.  

In addition to “The Flower Girls,” The Sauk per­formed several other main, second, and third stage shows this year, including two large scale musicals and play readings over the summer. According to Bird, audi­tions draw inter­ested thes­pians not only from Hillsdale County, but every sur­rounding county as well.