IN 1950 A SMALL
AMERICAN TOWN WAS EMPTIED, THEN LEVELED.
"I can't pack a suitcase in 90 days much less 85 years of things stuffed into a 6-room house." But the residents of this little town did just that.
I Don't Live There Anymore is based upon an incident in American history so insignificant as to pass entirely unnoticed by historians. And yet it conceivably altered the course of our history, even that of the world, in helping to prevent World War III.
The play is set at a time when American boys were dying in Korea and anti-communism was high. Patriotically, the people of Ellenton sacrificed their town to protect other towns from destruction. For many, though, it was manna from Heaven. Farmers plagued by drought and low prices could sell out, while others found employment at the new plant. Hardest hit were the Negro sharecroppers, paid nothing for land they had worked for generations, but did not own. They were cast aside without comment or apology, some of them expiring even as the bulldozers were at the door.
Our musical covers the period from the day before Truman's fateful announcement until Thanksgiving just six days. It takes the audience through the emotions and gentle humor of a small town's usual mix of characters as they deal with the news.
In the story, young Francis Marion Dunbar, whose forebears settled the town of Ellenton, South Carolina, cannot understand the complacency of the townfolks. He had witnessed first-hand the awesome destruction to Nagasaki. He was so devastated and ashamed that once discharged in Japan, he worked for years in a nearby hospital. Turning his back on the country which could wreak such carnage, he wandered aimlessly. Finally he returns to Ellenton to claim his birthright, only to discover that the same government is about to destroy his town to make nuclear weapons. He reminds his fellow townspeople of their history and exhorts them to resist the order. But, America is at war in Korea, Russia has tested an atomic bomb, becoming a threat to world peace, and... this is the South.
I Don't Live
There Anymore is not about bombs or the eradication of a town: it's
about love...young love requited, old love uncovered and the sacrificial
love of people for people. Instead of protesting the loss of their
homes and their way of life, the people of Ellenton, South Carolina
decided by petition to relinquish their town as a measure of gratitude to
the country which had given them nearly a century of peaceful existence.
It's about how ordinary people cope with remote political decisions,
something which ordinary people do in every town, in every country all
over the world.
To the people of Ellenton, Dunbarton and Meyers Mill, we dedicate