Life magazine was a popular publication in the United States from 1936 until its demise in 2000. Featuring beautiful photos that told the story just as much as the actual words, journalists and photographers alike knew they had made it when their stories and photos graced the cover of Life.
In 1996, R.T. Robinson wrote the play “The Cover of Life,” which centers around the lives of three brides in Louisiana whose husbands were off fighting in World War II. Bowie Community Theatre will present “The Cover of Life,” starting Nov. 8 at the Bowie Playhouse.
“It is just a wonderful piece of writing,” said director Bob Sams. “I like that and I like that this is a rather unusual play in that there are no bad parts. It is really, really nicely done. The more I’ve gotten into it, the more interesting it has become. The themes that are touched on I find to be remarkably relevant to what’s going on today in our society. … People being off to war, not only are they changed but the people who are left behind are changed often in ways they don’t expect and may not even like. There are changes that occur.
“When the warriors return, sometimes it’s difficult for relationships to be restored.”
Caity Brown, who plays the youngest bride Tood, said that one of the things she’s learned about the show is the history and said that’s thanks to Sams and his wife.
“They know so much about everything,” Brown said. “It’s opened up my eyes to the experiences … obviously, I don’t have a lot of experience being someone waiting for their husband to come home from war and I’m not from the rural South, so it’s really kind of opened up my eyes that way. What I like about this play is that it has a lot of really great roles in it.”
The show, which Variety magazine said had “the kind of roles actresses dream of,” features six roles for women.
“There’s so many women’s roles that are just the wife of the mother, the sister, something that’s not really developed,” Brown said. “These characters are all developed. They’re all clear people who have multiple layers to them and that’s really exciting to be able to do that.”
“There are parts in here that people always say they would like to have ones like that but they’re never written,” Sams added. “They are written in this play. [There are] some very strong women’s parts, some very touching women’s parts also. There are opportunities for actresses to really excel in it.”
Although Sams was excited to direct the show, he’s first to say that he came into the show in a rather unusual fashion.
“The person who had originally been scheduled to direct the show had to withdraw the week that auditions were scheduled,” Sams said. “I had read the show once. They came to me and said ‘We’re in a bad way, will you do it?’ I said sure, I’ll take it on because it’s such an interesting show, but this is Tuesday … I’m not going to be able to do auditions on Friday. Could you give me a couple of weeks?”
Sams said after the theater postponed the auditions, he had about two weeks to put together what a director normally does in two or three months. During auditions, Sams was thrilled to have “a wonderful set of actresses come out for the show.”
Meanwhile, Brown said she hopes audiences see the characters are real people and not caricatures of Southerners.
“One thing I kind of find about a lot of plays set in the South is that ... as soon as someone opens their mouth and they have a thick, Southern accent, we immediately think that they’re less intelligent,” Brown said. “I hope what people would take out of this show is they can see it and realize these are real people just like me. It might be a totally different setting and surrounding, but they’re facing similar issues that kind of everyone faces. I hope people will see the kind of humanity of it.
“I hope in some ways people realize ‘OK, women have come farther in the past 70 years, but maybe we have a little farther to go.”