Lurae Stokes

Special Contributor

Fighting to regain custody of her 5 year old son, young mother Renee is hiding from her past and is unwilling to face the future or the truth about her mothering skills.

While working on the cleaning staff of a retirement community, she meets Arnie, a grouchy, old narcissist, whose only goal is to hold on to every memory, which blocks his compassion for others.

The dynamic of the two coming to terms with their faults and growing new memories as part of their unlikely connection shapes Tyler Civic Theatre’s next production, “Random Access.”

Opening night will mark the Texas premiere of the play by Mary Carol Stunkel.

Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at, 400 Rose Park Drive.

Tickets can be purchased online at tylercivictheatre.com or at the box office before performances.

Believing that “a good drama asks us to judge,” playwright Stunkel said this bitter-sweet play is geared to opening the audience’s eyes into others realities.

She said she focused on “people who are too often dismissed in society.” While teaching workshops for young pregnant ladies, Ms. Stunkel said she discovered how “not loved” and abandoned the young women felt.

Renee is “a reflection of my experiences with those girls,” Ms. Stunkel said.

Renee, played by Hannah Johnson, encourages the audience to question their judgments toward one another.

Ms. Johnson found that one of her most difficult challenges was “finding the depth in Renee’s personality and the depth in me.”

Renee “has strong, positive qualities. Her downfalls are mainly as a mother,” Ms. Johnson said.

As Renee tries to forget negative memories, Arnie, played by Sean Holiday, is fighting to hold on to any memory.

Playing a man in his 80s, brought challenges to Holiday, who is much younger. He found it difficult “to make my movements reflect someone that age.”

Although Arnie is, at first glance, not the nicest person, Holiday said he believes he has found the “fine line between being a jerk and having people still like you.”

Helaina Wilkerson is making her debut as a director.

Ms. Wilkerson said she believes she found places for lightness in the serious drama.

To bring to stage her vision of “Random Access” Ms. Wilkerson she used her passion for telling stories and insights from her discussions with Ms. Stunkel

“I have had a lot of fun during this show, my cast and crew are fantastic,” Ms. Wilkerson said.

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