One of the appeals of theater is how it can take you out of your own life and into the adventures of far off people and places.
But sometimes it is the theater in and about your own backyard that can be just as eye-opening. For audiences of Pioneer Playhouse’s Kentucky Voices series of original plays with local flavor, seeing characters like themselves on stage and stories they directly identify with keeps them coming back for more.
“Granted,” the series’ current production, is just the kind of play that connects with local audiences. The third and final installment in a wildly popular trilogy beginning with “Grounded,” followed by “Guarded,” “Granted” concludes the saga of Annie, a young jetsetting flight attendant who comes back home to live in Kentucky in the trilogy’s first installment.
In “Granted,” Annie is engaged and adjusting to rural life, when a sudden arrival from her father upends her world just as she is attempting to plan a wedding while her neighbors duke it out in a pot luck war.
Adapted by Holly Hepp-Galván and Robby Henson from the novels by Angela Correll, the play’s heartwarming messages about family and home have struck a chord with audiences.
“I love the response,” says playwright Hepp-Galván. “I was there for two weeks and I just loved it. I try to sit in a different part of the audience every night. I would sometimes sit with a bunch of older ladies and they’d be nodding their heads vigorously with everything Beualah said. They were so identifying with her.
“The Kentucky voices series is about bringing people’s own lives and stories about Kentucky to the stage and putting them there in front of them. Sometimes they’re funny and sad, and sometimes there’s nostalgia and sometimes great joy.”
How to keep traditions while continuing to change and grow are a key question the play’s characters are grappling with.
“The central conflict is how to retain your values and what’s important to you but also make changes,” Hepp-Galván says. “And how do you maintain difficult friendships and difficult relationships?”
Take the character of Beaulah, for instance. As an older woman, a grandmother, and the pillar of the church, she is the stalwart of her community. And yet she must adapt to the times.
“She retains all these values and what’s important to her but she’s got to make some changes and how do you do that?” Hepp-Galván asks. “ The play’s comedy comes out of that and also the beauty of that. Who do you pass the farm onto? And what does it mean when your children move away and what does it mean when your children come home?
“And some of the biggest laughs are very food oriented this last play — like how do you eat like that and still be healthy?”
Hepp-Galván says she hopes that audiences see themselves in the play.
”I saw so many aspects of my own family and the love and the struggles, you know how it is with family,” she says. “I most hope that they will see their own family friends and community in this play.”
IF YOU GO
What: Original play by Holly Hepp-Galván, based on the novel by Angela Correll.
When: Through July 21. Dinner at 7:30 p.m., show at 8:30.
Where: Pioneer Playhouse, 840 Stanford Road, Danville
Tickets: $32 dinner and the show, $18 for the show only.