At a time when she has every reason to be optimistic about hope and change in her country, Carrie Honey embraces cynicism. 

She has nothing to hope for, and nothing can change the past.

Which is why she turns away in bitterness each time someone mentions the approaching election of the nation's first black president in UpStage Theatre's production of Melda Beaty's "Front Porch Society."

The play opens Aug. 10 on the theater's Cortana Mall stage and looks at the world through conversations and storytelling among residents of a black neighborhood in Marks, Mississippi.

"They talk about family and marriage and politics," director Ava Brewster Turner said. "They just talk about life."

But mainly they talk about a presidential candidate named Barack Obama. The year is 2008, and the women in the neighborhood sit on their front porches speculating on the possibility of the first black man serving as president.

But Carrie, played by Rosalynn Thyssen, doesn't want to hear it. Her life has been marred by tragedy, something that even a black president can't heal.

"So, she decides she isn't going to vote," Thyssen said. "She believes nothing is going to change, and nothing will change what's happened to her."

Though Carrie is a heavy role to play, Thyssen is having fun with it, partly because her children are her fellow actors.

Trinitee Thyssen is playing front porch gossip Winnie, and Traeh Thyssen is playing neighborhood kid Terrance.

"It's been fun for us just to be three actors together," Thyssen said. "I don't have to think about anything else while I'm here."

Rounding out the "Front Porch Society" are Meicola Robertson as the 90-something Mrs. Martha, who tells it like it is; Shayla Moses as Sister Stallworth and Quinton Paul as the postman Towner.

Towner tries to spread good cheer to those on his mail route, but Carrie isn't buying it. She's lived through segregation and civil rights, which led to her biggest loss, and each year she sends letters to her elected officials reminding them of her tragedy.

But no one ever answers, and she knows no one ever will.

Carrie decides 2008 will be the year she stops writing letters. And stops voting.

And as the story progresses, her front porch friends will learn about Carrie's past and how it connects with a future that promises hope and change.

'Front Porch Society'

An UpStage Theatre production

WHEN: 7 p.m. Aug. 10; 3 p.m. Aug. 11.

WHERE: UpStage Theatre, 9401 Cortana Place, Cortana Mall entrance No. 1.

TICKETS/INFO: $22. (225) 924-3774 or   

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