The national broadway show The Color Purple will be making its way to MemAud on Sunday to display the story of an African American woman living in 1930s Georgia.
The Color Purple is based on a book, which won a Pulitzer Prize, published in 1982 by Alice Walker. The book later inspired a movie that was released in 1985 and starred Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg.
The current tour of The Color Purple is a revival of the original broadway musical. The play’s first time around lasted from 2005 to 2008. The revival broadway show ran in New York City from 2015 to 2017 and has been on tour nationwide since.
“We missed the last time around when it was on tour, so we’re really excited to get it here to Athens,” Andrew Holzaepfel, senior associate director for student activities, said.
Holzaepfel meets with broadway agencies every year to choose one-night shows to present at Ohio University. He said there are usually about six to eight potential performances within a school year, but because of auditorium scheduling, around three to five are actually chosen to come to Athens.
The plot of The Color Purple displays decades throughout the life of an African American woman living in the South and the struggles she experiences and overcomes.
“The subject matter is really intense,” Holzaepfel said. “I think it will be appealing to students or community members, and I think they’ll leave feeling fairly moved.”
Holzaepfel said he is excited to see the revival because the subject matter may have slightly changed since the original broadway show. The revival won a Tony award in 2016 for Best Revival.
“I remember watching the movie a long time ago, and I think it’s cool that the broadway show based off it is coming to this campus,” Michael Brown, a freshman studying sports management, said. “It sends a very powerful message.”
The Color Purple shares an important message that is educational and moving to people of all backgrounds, especially those who have never experienced prejudices for their race.
“Racism has changed over time … It’s still there. it’s just different,” Tess Buisset, a paramedic at Athens County EMS, said. “But this story shows the history of it in a meaningful way.”
OU is home to students of several backgrounds and cultures, but it is predominantly made up of white students. Athens itself is a small Appalachian town containing a mostly white community. The Color Purple making its way to Athens aims to shine a light on history that many people in Athens have not experienced, and it will be eye-opening to students and locals.
“I think it’s powerful that it’s coming to such a small town with a diverse community on campus,” Sophia Marolt, a sophomore studying interior architecture, said. “It is important to acknowledge the past and how it affects our present.”