The country group Lonestar has sung about “My Front Porch Looking In.” Well, a Georgetown resident has written “The Porch,” a play about memories in Pawleys Island.
The Swamp Fox Players will premiere Vikky Gentry Ferris’ production Friday for three weekends through May 26 at the Strand Theater in historic Georgetown.
The 1950s-era play, directed by Lee Padgett, also splashes in some beach music and shagging at Pawleys Island Pavilion, as well as fishing and crabbing, for Ferris wants to trigger summer memories for everyone in the audience.
Ferris said she has traced her ancestry in Georgetown to 1770, and although she was born in Norfolk, Va., on a “brief tour” by her parents, she was raised in Georgetown, where she has made her life “through and through.”
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Retired from a career in marketing, which included the medical field as well as writing commercials for radio, television and newspapers, Ferris said she considers those “my miniature plays.”
Question | How long or short, or how hard or easy, was putting down this play on paper?
Answer | I put down the first words two years ago, and I talked with Pat Tukey from Brookgreen Gardens, and he gave me some input. I changed the last half of the play completely, and then I entered it in the play reading festival that Atlantic Stage had last year, and I was a finalist. ... The people there, they gave me input as far as some of the things that I wanted to do but wasn’t sure about doing, and they encouraged me to go ahead with it. ...
When a playwright writes a play, it’s really good to be able to hear it out loud; that’s what the Atlantic Stage festival did for me. .. I could understand and hear it through the characters’ voices.
Q. | Will this re-enactment on stage stir more memories for you or for the audience?
A. | I hope it stirs memories. ... Many of these are memories and characters from people I’ve known, combinations of people I’ve known in my life, and the memories of Pawleys Island from growing up, and the Pawleys Island Pavilion. On this coast, we have had many pavilions, such as Myrtle Beach, Sullivans Island, and all of these little islands that have celebrated our state dance, the shag. ... This is about going to the island, going to the beach, and the good memories we’ve had. ...
It’s also the place where many people have gone to heal. In the play, one of the characters gets a divorce and goes right to her home at the beach, with her mother ... and she heals at the beach.
Q. | What other feelings come out through the characters?
A. | There’s romance, and mystery. ... There’s the Gray Man, Theodosia Burr and different characters we have known through folklore. ... And hurricanes have interfered with love. Actually, this is about an analogy: A hurricane comes, and someone gets a divorce, like how storms come, and they always go.
Q. | How much of the play might be autobiographical?
A. | I’ve lived many of these events, and I’ve seen others close to me live these events. A writer has to write about they’ve experienced.
Q. | Might this play serve your generation a certain way, then mean something else for future generations?
A. | I think it will. One of the things I try to show in this play is the continuity of life, and the experiences of previous generations, but how we don’t really change. The music might change, but many of the experiences, especially with out friends and family ... really are the core of life itself.
Q. | How long has writing plays been an itching in your heart?
A. | In 1982, the Swamp Fox Players performed one of my plays, and it’s been performed at Brookgreen Gardens and Atalaya at Huntington Beach State Park. ... It was about the Swamp Fox, Gen. Francis Marion. I’ve rewritten it five times. ... I don’t know anyone who could really understand him. I’ve spent since 1982 researching and looking agt the dynamics of his life, and I feel like I understand that character.
Q. | What’s on deck stagewise for you?
A. | I’m looking forward to a new play I hope to finish in the next year. It’s about a hidden hero. I’ve written another play. It was ... performed in Mount Pleasant. It had five songs in it; it was a musical, and I wrote the songs.
Q. | Is music or a story more challenging to write?
A. | I have to sing the songs with words on a tape recorder, then I pay someone to write the music. I always wanted to take piano lessons. Maybe I can, still.
Q. | What else fills your free time?
A. | I like to fish with my husband, Pat Ferris. ... He is an outdoorsman. He introduced me to the beauty of these creeks and rivers here.