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Localife: Living Out Loud

Camden Voices to be heard for years to come

Posted: May 21, 2012 3:30 p.m.
Updated: May 23, 2012 5:00 a.m.
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For seven years, the Camden audience has enjoyed the monologues actor and playwright Tony Scully brought to life at the Fine Arts Center (FAC) of Kershaw County.

Individuals of all ages have taken the stage under Scully’s direction to find their voice through performing personal essays and poetry.

But not until recently have these “Voices” been compiled in one place.

On sale now at the FAC is Scully’s “The Voices of Camden: The Quarrel with Oneself.” The book includes the best of all the monologues performed during Scully’s tenure.

“I really see myself as a channel,” Scully said. “Camden has a complex group of people, I want this to be personal for the performers as well as the audience.”

He also noted that he wanted to make sure the voices he heard while directing the monologues were able to make a lasting impression on the community.

“In 100 years, I want people to see how complex, alive and distinctive we are as a group of people,” he said. “When people see the word ‘quarrel’ they think it’s about being angry. It’s not about being angry; it’s about ‘who am I?’ and how we grow, how we struggle to achieve our goals.”

Scully’s goal in directing the monologues and editing the new book was to help people learn more about themselves.

“I can take a group of people and tap into their imaginations,” he said, “Get them writing plays and music. This process helps them find their voice, and when you find your voice, you find your power.”
Scully said human history -- across cultures -- has been full of repressed voices.

“Many times people are taught from a young age not to speak up, not to criticize, to say as little as possible in public,” he said.

Through his monologues, Scully said both the individuals performing as well as those in the audience connect with each other.

“When we write about things so personal, the people listening realize they are not alone,” he said.
Scully’s book is now on sale for $20. All the proceeds will benefit the FAC.

Highlights of the book include the following:

In “God is Great,” Kathryn Bellamy recalls how as a young, unwed mother in the early ‘60s, she contemplated throwing herself out a tenement window to impale herself and her baby on the iron spikes of the fence below, only to be saved by a strong gust of wind and a voice telling her that He would protect her if she would only have faith in Him.

In another of her monologues, “The Mississippi Trip,” she tells how in the 1940s in Mississippi, white police stopped the car her black father was driving, dressed as a chauffeur, and ordered her light-skinned mother to sit in the back, according to the custom of the day.

Jim Burns reads from the letters of his great-great uncle, James Burns, after the battle of First Manassas. He had only recently been valedictorian at The Citadel. Two years later he was killed at Gettysburg.

In “The Part,” Joy Claussen talks about her early acting experiences in New York City where the theater she was performing in turned out to be in a brothel. On opening night, a bomb scare drove the audience out of the theater.

In “Beginners Luck,” Claussen talks about being on stage with TV star Bob Crane on the night he was murdered.
In “The Next Door Neighbor” Lily Norton tells how the little old man who lived next door to her as a child, and who helped her with her grade school arithmetic, turned out to be Albert Einstein.

John Dais, now a scholarship student at Newberry College, in “A 19-Year Old Girl,” tells about how his mother, with a baby and no husband, put herself through college and graduate school, all for him, and how he had to come to terms with his sometimes errant teenage self because of his mother’s sacrifices.

Chip Summers, former pastor of Camden’s Bethesda Presbyterian Church, with his typical dry humor, talks about how in visiting nursing homes he was of two minds.

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