Friday, April 26 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, April 27 at 7:30 pm
Circle Arts Theatre
124 Elizabeth Avenue
New Braunfels, TX 78130
The residents of the small mountain village of New Hope Valley, Tennessee gather for a square dance hosted by the church. Susannah Polk, a well-mannered, pretty young woman of nineteen receives a lot of attention from the men. A group of elder’s wives, jealous of the attention Susannah’s beauty attracts, gossip about her. Mrs. McLean, one of the wives, states you can’t expect more from someone who was raised by a drunken brother, and predicts this girl will come to no good. An itinerant preacher, who will give a revival meeting the next day, arrives a day early. Reverend Olin Blitch joins the party and asks Susannah for a dance.
That evening, Susannah is escorted home by her friend, Little Bat McLean. He is a keen admirer of Susannah. They talk about the dance, and she thinks of how nice it would be to leave her hometown and travel beyond the mountains. Little Bat leaves once Susannah’s brother, Sam Polk, returns from a hunting trip.
The next morning, while the Elders are looking for a place for communal baptisms, they stumble upon Susannah, innocently bathing in a creek near her home. To conceal their own lustful desires, the Elders inform the community of her wickedness, painting her as a sinful seductress. Later, when Susannah arrives at a church picnic, she is told she is not welcome there.
Susannah has no idea what has happened. Little Bat informs her that the Elders condemned her for bathing in the nude. Even Little Bat was forced by his parents to say she had seduced him. The entire town denounces her as shameless and demands that she must publicly confess her sins or else be excommunicated. Later, Sam tries to explain away their vicious behavior by saying “it’s about the way people is made.”
Several days later, Sam prepares to check his hunting traps. Worried he will return drunk, Susannah tries to get him to stay. He advises her to go to the prayer meeting and make a public confession to seek their forgiveness. Although she has nothing to confess, she attends the revival service where Reverend Blitch is preaching. After she is singled out to make a confession by the preacher, she runs away. The Reverend makes a house call to visit Susannah, to convince her to repent. Upon discovering that her brother is away, he tells her he’s a lonely man and indicates he is interested in more than just her soul. Too shattered to protest, Susannah lets him lead her into the house and he violates her.
The next day, Blitch is alone in the church, praying. He now knows that the stories of the townspeople were lies, because he discovered all too intimately Susannah’s innocence. Knowing that Susannah was a virgin, he begs her, and the Lord, for forgiveness but she refuses to give it. He unsuccessfully tries to convince the elders and their wives of her innocence.
Sam returns home, drunk as usual. When he learns what happened, he leaves for the baptismal service, carrying his shotgun, and kills Blitch for violating his sister. Unable to catch Sam and convinced that Susannah encouraged her brother to murder the preacher, the community storms her house to threaten to drive her out of the valley. Little Bat warns Susannah in advance, and when the vigilantes arrive she is waiting for them with a shotgun. Facing hostility, she stands her ground, maniacally laughing at the villagers, and chases them off. While she has survived the town’s attack, it was at a terrible cost to her own innocence as she has completely severed her ties with the community and the world.
by Amy Selby
Elizabeth Herlitz Cortés
Friday, April 26
Zachary Thomas Newman
Little Bat McLean
Saturday, April 27
John Marcus Bindel
Bass, First Man, Second Man