Quincy News

QCT's virtual production to explore human side of Martin Luther King Jr.

John Lumpkin portraying Martin Luther King, Jr runs through a scene of "The Mountaintop" with Marissa Lumpkin portraying Camae during a rehearsal at Quincy Community Theater on Thursday, Aug.. 6, 2020. The play will open virtually Tuesday. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
Jake Shane
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Aug. 10, 2020 12:01 am

QUINCY -- John and Marissa Lumpkin will make their Quincy Community Theatre debut together.

When John's coworker who volunteers with the organization texted him asking if he knew anyone that would want to audition for the upcoming production of "The Mountaintop," he was interested in auditioning, but a glance at the script and he knew that Marissa should audition.

"As I read the script, I was like 'My wife would be perfect for this,' and I couldn't image myself really being able to do it without her by my side," John said.

QCT's production of "The Mountaintop" will premiere at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday with John portraying civil rights leader Margin Luther King Jr., and Marissa portraying Camae, a housekeeper.

Auditioning for a QCT production is something the couple previously had considered.

"We played with the idea of doing some community theater in the past, but we never really took the time to look into it and see if there was anything that fit us for roles," Marissa said. "When this came about, it just fit, and everything worked out."

QCT Artistic Director Brandon Thomsen said plans didn't call for a married couple to be given the two parts. It was just a coincidence.

"They've got great chemistry (on stage)," Thomsen said.

Written by Katori Hall, "The Mountaintop" is a re-imagination of events the night before the assassination of King. On April 3, 1968, after delivering one of his most memorable speeches, an exhausted King retires to his room at the room at the Lorraine Motel wile a storm rages outside. When Camae arrives with some surprising news, King is forced to confront his destiny and his legacy to his people.

With a love of history and studying the life of King, John said it has been challenging at times.

"I want to play the role honoring him but at the same time, it's a good reminder that at the end of the day, he was just a man," he said. "This play does a good job of humanizing him, and I want to do a good job of get that to come across. He's a polarizing figure in a historical context, but he was just a man who had flaws, too, and at the end of the day he just wanted what was best for the American people."

Marissa believes "The Mountaintop" relates to protests seen across the country in recent months.

"We all have an opportunity to pickup the baton that has been passed throughout history and to make a difference and impact in our world," she said. "We're all just human beings, but we all have the same opportunity to do this,"

With the 2020 season postponed because of the COVID-19, QCT explored productions it could offer to virtually, but making sure the productions had purpose.

"So we're not going to just put out programming for the sake of putting out programming, but that it was relevant, it had purpose and spoke to our mission" he said. "It just really struck me around the George Floyd events that we had already planned to do a virtual production of some kind. So why not use that opportunity as a way of speaking to our current times.

Tickets to view the production are available at 1qct.org. There is no charge see the production, but donations are encouraged. The stream will remain available through Wednesday.

Following the production, the audience is invited to join Thomsen and the Lumpkins for a live Q&A to discuss the play.