ABILENE,Kan. – Civil rights issues will take center stage – literally – at the Eisenhower Presidential Library as the Great Plains Theatre uses the Library auditorium Nov. 7-16 for their production of Driving Miss Daisy. In conjunction with the performance, a mini exhibit showcasing President Eisenhower’s role in civil rights is also on display in the Library building.
The production is the result of a long-standing partnership between the Library and the Great Plains Theatre (GPT) which lost their building in a tragic fire in the midst of their 20th anniversary season. In true “the show must go on” fashion, the GPT staff reached out to community venues for building use access and each subsequent performance has been held at various locations.
“Given President Eisenhower’s historic civil rights bills– the first since the Reconstruction Era following the Civil War — and executive orders and the play’s major themes, it made sense to host the production here,” said Karl Weissenbach, director of the Eisenhower Presidential Library.
Driving Miss Daisy is set in the Deep South spanning a 25-year period beginning in 1948, early in the modern civil rights era. The production focal point is on the relationship between a cantankerous woman and her hired driver, an unemployed black man, Hoke. Miss Daisy immediately regards Hoke with disdain. Over time, the two come to realize they have more in common than would ever have believed possible.