Meet the Real Children of the Dust Bowl!
Written by Jerry Stanley and adapted for the stage by Dr. Jim Johnson, arts education coordinator for the Gallo Center, Children of the Dust Bowl is a multi-media Reader’s Theatre production based on the true story of the “Okie” migration to California of the 1930’s and the construction and life of a remarkable school at a farm worker’s camp.
The production is told in the words of the migrants themselves and those of a remarkable high school counselor named Leo Hart who inspired the migrant families to build the school. The production provides a glimpse of a neglected period of American history and tells the story of prejudice being transformed into acceptance and despair into hope.
The show includes a multi-media presentation with live music and visuals from the Dust Bowl era. Directed by Dyanne Durr, the show’s cast of four actors is known as the Hard Travelin’ Players—Linda Johnson, Jim Johnson, Wes Page and Charlene West. The musical performers, The Dust Bowl Ratz, are Drew Durr, Peter Magazionvic and Alexandria Durr.
The production was organized by Kimberly Ogden as a benefit for the Stanislaus Literacy Center. It is one hour in length and has been conceived as a traveling show, as well. The producers and the Gallo Center hope to tour the show to schools, colleges and universities, churches, civic groups, migrant education centers and other performing arts centers. The production can serve as stimulus to discuss history, sociology and the personal experience stories of people who lived through the Great Depression and the migrant experience in California. It will enable school children to understand how to combat discrimination and prejudice.