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‘Voices From Sanibel’ to stage second performance this Sunday

By Staff | Mar 18, 2009

A second performance of the stage play “Voices From Sanibel: A Black Experience” will be presented at Iona-Hope Episcopal Church this Sunday, March 22 at 2 p.m. The play was written by Tom Ross Prather and is based upon “Sanibel Island” by Yvonne Hill and Marguerite Jordan.

The play was first presented by the Lee County Black History Society, Inc. and the Cultural Heritage Center of the Islands (a non-profit organization) as part of a Celebration of Progress for Black History Month. It was presented at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Fort Myers on Feb. 9, 2009.

“Developing the play was primarily done through interviews with the Gavin family and Jake Johnson,” said Prather. “Putting what they said along with the photographs from the book went together perfectly.”

The play is presented as a staged reading and details lives of the early pioneers – both black and white – that migrated to Sanibel when the island was still virtually a wilderness. These early residents faced hardships, mosquitoes, hurricanes and numerous financial setbacks but survived and grew stronger with each generation. Direct descendents of these families still work and live on Sanibel today.

According to Prather, the play begins with the arrival of the Gavin family on Sanibel in 1917 and concludes with Hurricane Charley in 2004.

“I started the interview process this past December, which took a couple of months, he added. “It’s still a work in progress. We’d like to bring it to Sanibel soon, and hope to share it at some schools in Fort Myers.”

This special event, which lasts approximately an hour, will also include gospel singers, music and a large screen presentation of vintage photographs. Admission is free, but any donations will be shared by the above non-profit organization.

Iona-Hope Episcopal Church is located at 9650 Gladiolus Drive (next door to the Lakes Regional Library) in South Fort Myers. For additional information, call 239-454-4778.