Update on Activities: “Invasion of Privacy” at SF College and Related Events in June 2015

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Director Judith Chapman and award-winning actors from California have now joined local actors at Santa Fe College for rehearsals of “Invasion of Privacy,” an award-winning play by Larry Parr that dramatizes the famous Zelma Cason-Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings lawsuit and trial that took place in Alachua County in the 1940s. The play runs Thursday-Saturday, June 18-20, 2015, in the Fine Arts Hall at the Northwest Campus, 3000 NW 83 Street, Gainesville.

Judith Chapman

Tickets for the performance are $15 for adult orchestra and mezzanine seats; $12 for adult balcony seats; $9 for seniors, children, and University of Florida students and faculty; and $9 for faculty, staff and students of Santa Fe College. For ticket information, call the Box Office at 352-395-4181. Tickets may be purchased on line at:

http://www.sfcollege.edu/finearts/

After winning a Pulitzer Prize for “The Yearling,” the Cross Creek writer Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was at the height of her career when she was sued in 1946 by her friend, Zelma Cason, in the first right of privacy case brought against an author. Cason’s lawsuit pitted a citizen’s right of privacy against an author’s constitutional guarantee of free speech. The fascinating cast of characters in “Invasion of Privacy” includes Rawlings, a noted author given to drinking and “black spells”; Kate Walton, the first female attorney in Florida who represented Cason; and Sigsbee Scruggs, the cagey “good ole boy” cracker attorney who represented Rawlings. The lawsuit became an international spectacle and a personal struggle between the two attorneys.

Award-Winning Director and Visiting Actors. Daytime television star Judith Chapman, who has been honored by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences with a Silver Circle Award for her 25 years in the industry, is directing the play as part of the college’s Master Artist Series. The award-winning cast includes Gina Bikales, Corbett Brattin and Yo Younger, who all hail from the theatre-rich area of Palm Springs, California.

Local Actors.  Sara Morsey, long-time associate artist with Gainesville’s Hippodrome Theatre, will play the part of Zelma Cason. In addition to her work at the Hipp, Morsey has acted in regional theatres throughout the United States. The role of Judge John Murphree will be played by retired Eighth Judicial Circuit Judge Chester B. Chance, who was recently honored by the Circuit for his 25 years of service as a judge as part of the American Bar Association’s Law Day. Matthew (Matt) Lindsay, who has appeared in many main stage shows at the Hippodrome and teaches in the Hippodrome’s Education Department, will play Norton Baskin, the husband of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.

Playwright.  Larry Parr, who wrote “Invasion of Privacy,” will be in Gainesville for the performances.

Interview Availability. Chapman, the other actors and Parr are available for interviews. Contact Alora Haynes at 352-395-5296 to arrange an interview.

Student Involvement. SF College theatre students will observe a rehearsal of the play and engage with the director and actors in a question-and-answer session at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 11, in the Fine Arts Hall.

Friends of the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Farm Fundraiser and “Invasion” Preview Party. Meet director Judith Chapman and the cast of “Invasion of Privacy” 6-8 p.m. Friday, June 12, 2015, at the Matheson History Museum. Tickets are $35 per person and may be purchased at the door. All proceeds will benefit Friends of the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Farm, a nonprofit organization that sponsors projects and events at the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park. The preview party will be held in conjunction with the new Florida’s Global Kitchen exhibit, which features original artifacts from the home of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. The evening includes a silent auction of items including framed prints of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ Cross Creek home. Cross Creek-themed dishes will be featured, including pound cake made with blueberries picked fresh that day at South Moon Farms and wine donated by Island Grove Wine Company. Catering will be provided by East End Eatery’s Sandra Carlisi, who will serve additional items such as toasted corn cups with jerk shrimp salad, peanut-curry chicken salads in wonton cups, arugula pesto hummus, and herb crostini with marinated plum tomatoes.

Free Public Forum. “Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and the Invasion of Privacy Case” is a free public forum that will examine the legal implications of the case. The forum will be held 6:30-7:15 p.m. Friday, June 19, 2015, in the Fine Arts Hall, immediately preceding that evening’s performance. David Tegeder, chairman of the SF College Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, will moderate the panel that includes:

  • Patrice Boyes, an attorney who has served on the City of Gainesville Historic Preservation Board and as president of Historic Gainesville, Inc., who will talk about how the case has affected today’s privacy laws.
  • Steven Noll, master lecturer in the University of Florida Department of History, who will place Rawlings and her work in historical context.
  • Florence Turcotte, literary manuscripts archivist and curator of the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Collection at the University of Florida’s George A. Smathers Libraries, will address the Rawlings legacy in terms of the lawsuit, with references to the Rawlings collection of documents at the University of Florida.

The Master Artist Series is sponsored in part by the SF College Fine Arts Department, the SF College Foundation and Arts Patron program, and the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture. The June 18 performance is sponsored in part by The Village Retirement Community.

For more information about the Preview Party, call Elaine Spencer at 352-283-0483.

For more information about the play “Invasion of Privacy” and the public forum, call Kathryn Lehman at 352-395-5355 or Fine Arts Department Chairperson Alora Haynes at 352-395-5296.

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