Many of the artists at PlayMakers have ties to UNC-Chapel Hill, but it’s not often that a production features undergrad actors in the cast. However, open casting calls for The Parchman Hour brought undergraduates Jessica Sorgi and Allen Tedder to the PlayMakers stage – a fact the students are pretty excited about.

Jessica Sorgi

“I don’t know of any other schools where undergrads have the opportunity to work in a professional environment,” says Jessica. “Being able to work on a professional production, while still having the security of an educational environment, is the best of both worlds.”

Allen Tedder

Allen, who has been with the cast for both tours, admits that it can be difficult to balance school and work. “There were some challenges, especially on the tours and working at PlayMakers,” he says. “I have had late nights and liters of coffee to try and keep my grades up. And missing spring break for the tour earlier in the year was well worth it, but it was still like not having a break.”

Still, both undergraduates agree that the experience has taught them a lot. “I know now that I want to be an actor for the rest of my life – this run has confirmed that,” says Allen. “I have also learned that in the world, there are countless unsung heroes (I’ve met them) that do not even seek the glory they rightly earn… just the satisfaction of being able to sleep at night, knowing that they did what they could for the genuine good of the whole.”

Jessica, who said she was grateful for the opportunity to share the story of the Freedom Riders, added, “I hope that audiences not only learn more about the civil rights movement, but are also inspired to take action for what they believe in. I hope that they recognize how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go in the pursuit of freedom and equality.”

The Parchman Hour runs until November 13th.