BJU’s theatre arts department is preparing to transport audiences back in time to the 1950s on April 20-22 and 27-29 at 7:30 p.m. in Performance Hall with the production of The Trip to Bountiful.

Audiences will be introduced to a woman near death named Carrie Watts who is on a journey—a journey from Houston, Texas, back to her small hometown called Bountiful, from which she had been displaced.

Dr. Erin Naler, director of The Trip to Bountiful, wrote about this play in her doctoral dissertation.

“[The Trip to Bountiful] is just a beautiful story that I think a lot of people will really resonate with,” Naler said.

“And I think the play makes you think about your own stories, your own history.”

The Trip to Bountiful is an odyssey written by Horton Foote, an American playwright.

“[Foote] sees small towns as places where you can become rooted in but also where you can become displaced,” Naler said.

“[And] you find out through the play that [Carrie Watts’] experience was fraught with much sorrow and is a combination of hurt and hope,” she said.

This play has 11 characters and the main character, Carrie Watts, is played by Corretta Grass, who has been a part of the communication faculty for over 50 years.

Grass will be retiring at the end of this academic year, and this is an exciting performance for her as she finishes her journey of teaching and begins a new stage of life.

“I am honored to be asked to perform in this play,” Grass said.  “I am thrilled that the director, Dr. Erin Naler, the assistant director and all of the main characters are my former students. I taught them in many different classes from Voice and Diction to Classroom Communication to Storytelling.  It is my privilege to act with them.”

Grass said her performance in this play is her farewell to BJU.

“It is sad to know that I am leaving this wonderful university, my students and classes and my opportunities, including the many plays I have been in over the last 51 [and a half] years,” she said.

“When my character says at the end of the play, ‘Good bye, Bountiful, good bye,’ I know that will be my farewell to the stage and my teaching career,” Grass said.

Having worked with the cast rehearsing the play for six weeks, Naler said she believes there is benefit for all who attend The Trip to Bountiful.

“It is an important piece of American art,” Naler said.

“Horton Foote provides plays that force audiences to rest,” she said. “He wants you to come into the theater and stop and pause. The speed of modern life is halted in the theater.”

With the business of the final weeks of the semester, Naler encourages students to set aside their 21st century culture and step into a different world—the world of Carrie Watts and a town called Bountiful.