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St. John's Episcopal Church hosts production of "Driving Miss Daisy" for hurricane relief efforts

Brandon Paykamian • Updated Nov 17, 2017 at 9:07 AM

After a destructive hurricane season left parts of Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico devastated, Episcopalians across the nation have been working to raise funds for the storms’ victims.

On Thursday, St. John’s Episcopal Church continued preparing for their upcoming production of “Driving Miss Daisy,” which will be performed Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Proceeds will go toward the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund, according to Rector Hal Hutchison.

“All of the funds will go toward the hurricane relief efforts,” he said.

Though the public is invited to attend the play for free, Hutchison encouraged a suggested donation of $20. 

Hutchison said the play, which takes place from 1948 through the Civil Rights Era, is particularly timely in today’s political climate. The plot of the play follows Daisy Werthan, a wealthy, elderly Jewish woman who reluctantly hires a black chauffeur named Hoke Colburn after a car wreck. Though her relationship with Colburn starts off on the wrong foot, the two eventually form a strong bond. 

Much of the play centers on the theme of racism, anti-semitism and the growing bond between the two characters, played by John Collins and Judy Womack. 

“I see it as part of a long conversation in this country about race relations and the things Christ came to bring — peace between people and reconciliation,” Hutchison said.

Collins, a professional actor who has starred as Colburn in dozens of productions of the play throughout the country for nearly three decades, said the more he performs the role, the more he is able to immerse himself in the story and “become the character.”

Following a long battle with cancer, Collins said it was time to take to the stage again, and he has performed the play numerous times in recent years. Last spring, he starred in the play at the Kingsport Renaissance Theatre. After years of performing the play, he said he has been particularly impressed with this production’s cast.

“It’s a show that makes you laugh, cry, feel love — if you can close your mind and go to where the play is taking you that day, you’re going to feel all of those emotions,” Collins said.

For more information on St. John’s production of “Driving Miss Daisy” and the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund, call 423-926-8141.

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