Merced County Times Newspaper
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‘My Letter To Dr. King’

Playhouse to stage original production for MLK Day

Local performer and community volunteer Michelle W. Allison has created and will direct the production, “My Letter to Dr. King,”
Local performer and community volunteer Michelle W. Allison has created and will direct the production, “My Letter to Dr. King,”

Local performer and community volunteer Michelle W. Allison has created and will direct the production, “My Letter to Dr. King,” which Playhouse Merced is offering to the community from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Jan. 17, the national holiday to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s life.  Admission is free. COVID protocols will be followed, and there will be masks required in the theater.

The program, which will primarily consist of a reading of letters and poems to Dr. King composed by various individuals, is sure to be thought-provoking, as well as educational and entertaining. There will be a balance between music and the reading of the letters.

Allison told the Times, “The concept for ‘My Letter to Dr. King’ came from thinking about the legacy of encouragement and motivation in his many books, essays, speeches, letters and interviews.  He left us a blueprint to move forward, and the foundation is in love, that we should love one another as God had instructed us to do in His word.

“Dr. King was a pastor before he became a civil rights leader.  As a pastor, his foundational message was always rooted in love.

“The intent of the program is to provide individuals with a way to take a moment and share their thoughts on how Dr. King’s life and sacrifice impacted their lives, a time to take inventory to look at a life with and without Dr. King.”

Explaining how she put together the program, Allison told the Times, “I used multiple outreach tactics.  I asked some people directly, held two open calls at Playhouse Merced, sent emails and made phone calls, and extended the time to respond for some people.

“The letters are the meat of this project as they are original letters written by community members.  They will be read by some of the authors, me, or a designee. Both poems and letters will be shared during the performance.  The program will begin with a Pastoral Message from Pastor Phil Jenkins of Mt. Olive Missionary Church in Atwater.

“In creating ‘My Letter to Dr. King,’ I recognized how non-violence wasn’t easy, but was a necessary tool that had to be used to fight for freedom.  While Dr. King was loved by many, he was also deeply hated, and was killed for doing the right thing to change the many injustices experienced by Black people at that time.

“Sadly, we are experiencing in some places and by some people hatred and disrespect reminiscent to the 1960’s, especially as we look at voting rights and the changes that were made after the recent Presidential election to prevent, as opposed to provide, access for eligible people.

“Even COVID and taking the vaccination have become a political issue, a divisive tool.  When Smallpox and Polio were issues, there was no question about getting a vaccine to save your life or the lives of others.  Some things have been taken out of context, for whatever political or personal gains people have desired, but Dr. King was always trying to make life better for Black people, and all of God’s children, using non-violence and love.

“So, ‘My Letter to Dr. King’ will allow people to share how his life and his legacy impacted their lives.  He addressed issues of fairness in health care, jobs, housing, and decreasing the pay gap between men and women, Black and White.

“Phil Vischer, ‘the Veggie guy’ to some, and his brother put together a video entitled ‘Racism in America’ that can assist some people in better understanding the challenges people of color have faced that Dr. King was well aware of.

“I believe in listening to the letters, the audience members will be led to ponder and explore some interesting comments and consider what we can do to be better citizens of the world that Dr. King was working to create, and consider continuing the work our Lord and Savior started in asking us to love one another.”

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