Each June, the people of Rush County can always look forward to fresh squeezed lemonade from the midway of the fair, watching events at the local racetrack, and of course, high school teens doing parody skits about life in this great little hometown.
“The skits are part of long-standing tradition known as Briar Patch, and local teens have been performing such skits for the past 47 summers,” Jenny Tague, writer and director of the play, stated. “This summer is no exception, and rehearsals are currently underway for Briar Patch 2014 shows, appropriately titled – Seriously Kidding Around.”
In 1966, Bob and Emy Waggener approached former RCHS drama teacher Marcia Blair with the idea “to involve Rush County young people in workshop weekends that would unleash their creative potential and add to their devotion of their Rush County roots.” With that suggestion, Marcia wrote and directed the first Slabtown Players show with the Homer Festival in 1967, and Slabtown’s roots were established and continued under Marcia’s direction until 1990.
Throughout the years, Slabtown changed venues a few times and eventually ran in conjunction with the annual Rotary Festival. In 1990, Marcia placed Slabtown in the capable hands of former RCHS communications teacher, Jeff Hufford. Jeff wrote and directed for the Players during the next 18 years and eventually moved the productions to the air-conditioned RCHS Laughlin Center. Under Jeff’s direction, he also changed Slabtown Players to Briar Patch Players to honor the Waggener’s legacy and home, at which an actual briar patch exists.
This year, Tague will include a tribute to Changing Footprints, a local organization working to provide shoes for those in need. A donation site will be located in the lobby of the Laughlin Center, and patrons are encouraged to bring shoe donations to the shows. In particular, there is a great need for men and children’s shoes (grades K – 6), so individuals donating those items will be offered a discount to the shows.