MOUNT AIRY — Thousands of laid-off American workers find a reluctant champion in “Charlie America,” an original play from the NoneSuch Playmakers.
The three-act drama, set in the year 2000, tells the story of Charlie Ammerman (Gary Maxey of Elkin), a displaced factory worker arrested and charged with assault after attacking his former CEO Philip Crenshaw (played by David Taylor) at a protest rally. Charlie’s defense is placed in the hands of Sarah Finch (Sarah Carpenter), a novice attorney from the Public Defender’s office.
What begins as simple hearing before a judge explodes into a media circus when the incident gains national attention from tabloid TV host Natalie Bey (Angela Bryant). Bey christens Ammerman as “Charlie America,” and attempts to make him a symbol of all workers whose jobs have disappeared overseas. With his company’s image now at stake, Philip Crenshaw brings in two tough prosecutors (portrayed by Billie Jo Boyd and Randy Sprinkle) to crush Finch and send Charlie to jail. A jury is selected and young Sarah finds herself and her client front and center in the trial of the century.
NoneSuch co-founder Brack Llewellyn wrote the script for “Charlie America.”
“We never say where the story takes place, or what Charlie’s company manufactured,” he said. “That’s on purpose. We want everyone in the audience whose lives were touched by layoffs, downsizing or outsourcing to be able to identify with Charlie’s story, no matter where they come from.”
But Charlie’s trial isn’t the only focus of the play.
“It’s also Sarah’s journey,” Llewellyn explained. “We see this fledgling lawyer, filled with self-doubt, thrust into this bigger-than-life situation. In her struggle to vindicate Charlie she also finds purpose in her own life and chosen career.”
There’s also an interactive element to the show. Some members of the “Charlie America” audience will have the opportunity to serve in the “jury,” sitting up front with cast members. During the trial scenes, the entire audience will become the courtroom gallery. Their reactions will become part of the action and they will be addressed by Judge Drummond (Brian Greene), just as they would in a real courtroom.
The cast of 16 also includes Jake Pack, Jessica Llewellyn, Cindy Marion, Angela Llewellyn (co-founder of NoneSuch), Todd Jessup, Jonathan Jones, Jennifer Freeman, Olivia Jessup and Brack Llewellyn.
“This is a stellar cast,” said Llewellyn. “We have a powerful human story to tell and this cast is just the one to tell it. Everyone is fully committed to the play.”
“Charlie America” will be performed at the Jones Family Resource Center, 215 Jones School Road, Mount Airy, on July 24 and 25 at 7:30 p.m. and July 26 at 3 p.m. Admission is $5 per person and tickets will be available at the door. Seating is limited. The Playmakers caution that the play contains some language and situations not suitable for audience members under the age of 13.
For more information about “Charlie America” and the work of the NoneSuch Playmakers, visit their website at www.nonesuchplaymakers.com.