Hours after the curtain dropped on a successful production, Strike at the Wind! Director Jonathan Drahos began examining ways to expand the audience and grow the iconic Robeson County outdoor drama.
Strike at the Wind! performed before a sold-out crowd of more than 1,000 at the Adolph Dial Amphitheater at the Lumbee Tribe Cultural Center on July 4.
"The potential for the play is enormous," said Drahos, professor and director of Theatre at UNC Pembroke. "This story needs to continue and be told on a grander scale. We want to rally the community to support a full season of the play–three months, playing every weekend. We have a lot of momentum going with the collaborations with the tribe and with the Lost Colony.
"It's turning back into a community event. Once the community begins making it a part of their summer, there's potential to make it a tourist destination and attract audiences from across the state."
Lumbee Chairman Harvey Godwin Jr. said, he too, has been encouraged by the play's popularity since its return to sellout crowds and is excited about its future, noting renovations to the amphitheater, which began this week.
Strike at the Wind! has been a vital part of the tribe's culture and Lumbee Homecoming since 1976. The play returned in 2017 after a 10-year hiatus thanks to the collaborative efforts of UNCP, the Lumbee Tribe and the community.
The play tells the story of the Lowrie War in 1865. It chronicles the life of Henry Berry Lowrie, who led a band of men in a seven-year battle against those he believed killed his father and brother. The cast includes several UNCP theatre students, including Billy Oxendine and Cheyenne Ward, who play Henry and Rhoda.
This year, the collaboration grew to include the Roanoke Island Historical Association, which produces the Lost Colony outdoor drama in Manteo, N.C. The connection was made after the Lost Colony began offering its Native roles to American Indians actors for the first time in 84 years. Several Lumbee tribal members among the 2021 cast and serving as artistic advisors to the production.
Drahos, who played hot-headed Sheriff Reuben King, said he received positive feedback from the July 4 production.
"I had several people come up to me afterward and say the play moved them. Henry Berry Lowrie and his band of outlaws were indeed paradigm shifters in society. They changed a lot of how people view race. They fought for justice for all people and they sacrificed their lives for it. That kind of nobility is rare in the world."
"Drahos initiated the great collaboration between UNCP and the Lumbee Tribe to bring back SATW! as well as return it to the Lumbee Tribe Cultural Center, which is where it belongs. Together we were able to bring back the focus on dramatic and cultural arts to our people," Godwin added.
Before the show, Godwin praised Drahos and presented him with a piece of handmade pottery created by Reggie Brewer, cultural youth coordinator at the Lumbee Tribe Boys & Girls Club. Brewer who played the role as the death angel in SATW!
"Since I met Drahos, there has been nothing but constant collaborations between the tribe and UNCP. When he came to UNCP, he wanted to be involved in the community and make this happen. Without his vision and his heart for the people of this community, we wouldn't be here today."