Birth of a Spirit
This play is part of an ongoing cultural exchange between South Georgia and the Japanese town of Konu in the Hiroshima prefecture. President Jimmy Carter is held in great regard as the first president to visit the Hiroshima Memorial, and this exchange brings students from Carter’s home region to Japan to tell his story. The play is designed to showcase the particular talents students bring to the production. In doing so, it furthers the mission of its NGO funder.
The drama recalls instances in his pre-presidential life where Jimmy Carter took a stand against racial prejudice in his home community. These experiences turned out to form his political persona. Carter was one of a handful of white men who stood on the “wrong” side of the race issue and who, along with Clarence Jordan and Millard Fuller, bore the slings and arrows of the community for their unpopular anti-segregationist positions. After their positions were vindicated by the Civil Rights reforms of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, all of these men went on to do great things. Fuller founded Habitat for Humanity International. After creating Koinonia Farms, a Christian commune, Jordan wrote Cotton Patch Gospels. Time magazine proclaimed Carter as “The New South Governor” and he rose to the presidency. All of these great achievements can be traced back to individual moments when each chose to do what they believed was right in spite of the costs, and in so doing, created the spirits that guided them through future achievements. Carter’s pivotal moments prior to his presidency are the subject of this play.
More than the story of one man, the play shows the insidious effects of racism. The character in the play who articulates the prejudice of the period ultimately is shackled by his own hatred. The production’s African American spiritual music of the Civil War South speaks eloquently to the issues of freedom and captivity. This performance is the first of three plays that trace Carter’s quest for human rights before, during, and after his presidency.
The program involves taking the story of President Carter to Japan through a student-based production that premiers first at the National Historic Site in Plains, Georgia. The likely destination is the Carter Center in Konu, Japan, where the story of the 39th president has a particular resonance. Also included is a visit to Hiroshima and the Peace Memorial Museum, dedicated to telling the story of the first atomic bomb that America dropped on Japan during World War Two. In addition, Tokyo and nearby Kyoto are exciting destination points.
Perform Birth of a Spirit
This is part of a cultural exchange program that involves taking students from South Georgia and performing the story of their most famous son, Jimmy Carter, in Japan or in some other foreign location where the Carter narrative resonates. Future productions of his play will take place through a host institution or through a World Communities summer camp for students whereby the play is first rehearsed and performed in Carter’s home region, then that performance is taken abroad.