Hill history takes center stage
"Vinegar Hill," written by local actor-director-writer
Teresa Dowell-Vest and directed by Ishmail Conway, runs through
May 20 at the Live Arts theater, located on East Market Street
downtown -- only a few blocks from the area the play remembers.
a general faculty member at the Virginia
Foundation for the Humanities, is project director for the
African American Heritage Trails of Virginia. Conway is a lecturer
in the drama department
and associate director of the University's Upward Bound program.
Vinegar Hill was a once-bustling community in the center of Charlottesville,
first settled by Irish immigrants and later by African Americans.
In the "urban renewal" era of the 1960s and '70s, the
impoverished neighborhood -- including minority-owned businesses
and some homes that had no electricity or running water -- was
demolished after a city-wide referendum. Its residents were offered
living quarters in the Westhaven housing project, the city's first
venture into low-income housing.
play, fueled by hundreds of hours of research and oral history-taking
by Dowell-Vest and Charlottesville High School students, presents
Vinegar Hill's story through a dramatic interpretation of those
Hill" officially opens May 5, with additional shows May 6-7,
10-14 and 17-20. Ticket prices are $14 on Fridays and Saturdays
and $11 for all other shows; the two Wednesday performances are
"Pay What You Can" nights. The May 12 staging will be
followed by an audience discussion. The Thursday night shows are
"Early Bird" nights, with curtain time moved up to 7:30
p.m. The Sunday shows are 2 p.m. matinees; all others begin at
information, call Live Arts at 977-4177.