The mystery of ‘The Jacksonian’ unravels at Mesa College Theater


Jaqueline Sanchez Rivera, Photo Editor

Mesa College Theatre presented “The Jacksonian” by Beth Henley, a play that takes place in Jackson, Mississippi in 1964. There was a lot of violence and racism towards black people during the civil rights movement. Character Rosy Perch spent some time with her mother Susan Pearcha and father Bill Pearch at the Jackson Hotel. A broken family who struggled to stay together. During that time a crime was pending to be solved and Eva white, Fred Webers fiance, knew exactly who did it. Fred is the bartender of the hotel which had a crush on Rosy and did not want to marry Eva. Eva had a desire to get married that she did whatever it took from having Fred go to prison. Blaming an innocent balck male for Fred disaster was the “right thing to do” for Eva. Eva lost hope on Fred and had her eyes on Bill. She knew the family had issues so she took advantage of the situation. Eva thought she was winning by getting engaged with Bill but a surprise took over when a crime happen at the Jackson Hotel.

The show was a bit intense with a good amount of dark humor directed by Kris Clark. The whole performance was exceptionally professional; I could see the dedication that actors put into this play. Although there actually were some technical difficulties during the play in getting the lights to turn on, I did not even realize that it was happening. The audience laughed when the characters Susan and Bill couldn’t find the lights. It was assumed by many that it was part of the play. Lighting designer Zaphyr Leigh Landie said “we had some technical difficulties … the main control that controls all the lights up there was not working correctly so I had to run to it and fix it twice.”

As the show went on it got highly heated with characters Bill Preach and Eva White played by Alex Lopez and Jenna Pekney. Alex said, “I played for Bill and he was well educated … he was kind of more of a progressive person but did not like showing it a whole lot. He was kind of in the shadows but every once in a while he would talk about it. His dad was part of the KKK so he tried to suppress that memory of him and tried to believe that his dad is this perfect being that doesn’t do anything wrong.”

The character Eva was a very controversial and inappropriate for todays’ society because of her language and her beliefs towards people of color. To prepare for a role like Eva, Jenna said “it made me uncomfortable reading what my character was saying but then figuring it out and creating backstory for her, where she grew up and her parents. Knowing what she has been through and how she acts in the play shows how she wants that security … I had to relate and act as I was during that time.”

The character Fred Weber played by Enrique Arana had a unique accent that “did not quite fit the play,” director Clark said. Although his accent was different his acting was well done. There were great transitions and projections of emotions to its audience. Enrique said “to neutralize my accent I had to study and read articles about the movements of the mouth and tongue for the audience to understand me better.” Stage manager Denessa Leigh Cazares also added, “us spanish speakers, we like to talk fast ..I was like wait, I can relate to this so I told him that talking slower would help the audience understand.” Characters Rosy perch and Susan Perch were acted by Mia Cardeo and Tessa Lundgren but did not comment about their roles.

The stage design was well-fitted to the scenes and theme done by Remy Forbus. Megan Volkers, sound designer, did a wonderful job on picking background sound defects ⁠— it really brought on more life to the play. Costume, hair and makeup designer, Hunter Thompson, created great images for the characters.
It was a great performance overall.