G. M. Calhoun
Setting: We'll call it 1960s Mississippi
Format: Playscript, Modified Publication
“Tumblin’ Down” is a play commisoned by the Mississippi Humanities Council through The
Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage. Through decades of recorded interviews The Center
strives to preserve the life stories of Mississippi residents.
They felt a dramatic performance covering the last 80 years could present what they do to a new
audience. In their search for a suitable playwright my name came highly recommended by other
Research involved several thousand pages of interview transcripts.
The assigned task was to cover four specific eras: the Great Depression, War and Peace, Civil
Rights, and Natural Disasters.
Yet drama is a person with a problem. By deciding to turn the eras into people with personal
dramas tied into a specific situation I was able to do the job they wanted.
The finished piece was performed at the State Capitol, with the Gulf Coast Symphony Youth
Orchestra, several high schools, and as part of my 2010 keynote presentation to the Mississippi
This summer the production will also have the great honor of performing at the Kennedy Center in
Washington as part of their Millenium Project.
The Oral History people are ecstatic with the number of productions, the emotional impact, and the
quality of the play.
Writing Sample Setup
The script excerpt is the opening. The military Warren, the old vaudeville jokester Dee, hoop-skirted
Southern belle Missy, and Civ, a militant marcher, are involved in the rubble of a natural disaster.
Excerpt © 2009, 2010 by The Center For Oral History and Cultural Heritage