By Lisa Shrewsberry
What if you were given a priceless gift, one you could never lose or break or return?
Now, what if that gift was key to releasing the chains of a family curse, one that has kept members bound and down for generations — an inherited Achilles heel or a ghost, like alcoholism or abuse, haunting the strands of your DNA?
But there’s a catch about the gift. You have it, but haven’t opened it yet.
These are the questions Beckley playwright Clifton Montgomery seeks to provide spiritual answers to inside his debut production of “The Gift That Destroyed The Curse.”
Montgomery’s crew of five and cast of 25 will bring his words and beliefs to life on-stage at Tamarack Oct. 26 at 7 p.m.
For Montgomery, it’s a chance to use his own unique ability to help others recognize their curses, the societal ills handed down from grandfather and father to son, from mother to daughter to granddaughter.
“We’re not modeling Tyler Perry, but our concept of dealing with real issues like drug abuse, neglect and molestation are done similar to his style,” Montgomery says, setting the stage. Also similar to Perry’s signature modern-day morality tales is an original score for the live performance, by Kamilah Catus, with songs becoming the transitions from scene into scene.
“When the audience leaves this play, our goal is to have people’s lives changed for the better … to feel that they didn’t witness a play, they witnessed a ministry,” Montgomery states, revealing that the overarching Scripture for the play is Romans 11:29, “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”
Montgomery recognized his gift relatively early in life, on the premise of what the Bible claims is God’s promise to everyone — a special, irrevocable ability, talent or quality with a purpose bigger than oneself.
“When I was younger, I loved basketball, but when my friends would be out playing, I was always that kid in the corner with a pen and pad.”
A Woodrow Wilson High School alum, Montgomery delved into expressing himself through poetry, where he says he discovered a special anointing to reach people.
“Around 17, I wrote my first play, ‘The Boy With The Dream.’ It was very simple; I just performed it in front of the congregation at church.”
Last Christmas, Montgomery’s “’Tis Your Season” was the holiday production for Heart of God Ministries.
Since the response to “The Gift That Destroyed the Curse” will dictate future scheduling, Montgomery hopes the message will deeply affect audiences to the good, so it may travel beyond his county and his state’s borders. If all continues as initiated, beginning on a secular stage, it will also reach beyond the doors of the church.
“There’s a different audience for plays. There are a lot of people today who won’t go to church. The only Bible they’re gonna see is through the lives we live. Through (the arts) you reach an audience you wouldn’t otherwise reach.”
His message, he says, is everyone’s message — overachiever or underdog; fortunate or forgotten.
“I think what people fail to understand is that it’s not you ‘going through’ these things. These things, these issues or what you go through, can help refine you, to become the person you were meant to be.”
In the play, Montgomery confirms the lead character has a special gift, but she doesn’t recognize that it can become the catalyst to ending her family’s generational curse, beginning with her.
Although not seasoned actors, Montgomery says the audience wouldn’t know it, because many of them have lived the real-life versions of issues brought out by the play.
“They are more and more allowing themselves to become these characters,” he comments.
The topics, he believes, are both timeless and timely, and anyone who becomes part of the audience will walk away with a different take on life.
“Generational curses can put your destiny in park. Sadly, a lot of people are told, ‘You’re just like your mother’ or ‘You’re just like your father.’”
Montgomery believes the power of those words can be broken by the same — words spoken in season, acted out on a stage. He intends the play to remind audiences no matter their pasts or presents how important they are to God and that the key to overcoming has always been through the gifts inside them.
“You don’t have to let things in your life cripple you to where you can no longer be used.”
Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Business locations for advance purchase of tickets include The Bake Shoppe in Uptown Beckley; We Stylz Barber Shop, South Oakwood Avenue; and The Hair Maxx.
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