Preview: The Artist Acquaintance

By Columbus Alive
From the June 7, 2012 edition

Artists often are the only ones who give voices to the voiceless. Take, for example, Fyodor Dostoevsky, who used his fictional characters to explain the hardships poor people face, or Jacob Riis, who portrayed the plight of impoverished New Yorkers through compelling photographs and articles.

Now down-and-out residents of Franklinton are being given the chance to share their stories with the public. Northern Irish playwright Nicola McCartney, who teaches at Scotland’s University of Edinburgh, is coming to Columbus this week to interview current and past residents of Rachel’s House, a re-entry program for female ex-offenders, as well as others who call the West Side neighborhood home.

“She’s planning to use the actual words of the women in the story,” explained Rebecca Brown, administrative assistant for Lower Lights Ministries, the faith-based organization that runs Rachel’s House. Brown came up with the idea for a play based on Franklinton residents’ stories after seeing a similar production while visiting Northern Ireland.

McCartney — whose connection to Franklinton is through her lifelong friend Suzann Mark, co-director of Rachel’s House — will give a talk about her work Tuesday evening at Franklinton artist community 400 West Rich. She plans to premiere the play in the neighborhood sometime in 2013.