‘A community arts event unlike any you’ve ever attended’: Cullman playwright to release interactive new work May 9

(Graphic provide by Ben South)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Mother’s Day 2021 will be the online debut of a new “community arts event” from the mind of Cullman-based playwright Ben South. Titled “HOUSEBOUND & GARDEN: The Pandemic Letters Dramedy,” the show tells the story of grandmother and granddaughter through letters shared between the two over the span of 30 years. In a press release about the show’s debut, South stated, “When an inter-generational group of us in the Cullman arts crowd first brainstormed this project, we recognized people feel isolated, lonely and anxious during this challenging time. We are doing what theatre, music, all the arts are good at—reminding folks they are not alone and giving them hope.”

The show will become available for free on YouTube and Facebook on May 9, with an interactive option to allow for the most immersive viewing experience. According to the release, 

“When you link on social media to ‘HOUSEBOUND & GARDEN’ anytime beginning May 9, you’ll be provided a suggested ‘dinner theatre-at-home menu’ with additional links to Cullman restaurants, gifted cooks and mixologists, including original recipes shared in some cases. Another creative way this community effort is stitching everyone together with this theatre/music/arts project is through sewing craft. Twice during the storytelling of ‘HOUSEBOUND & GARDEN,’ a simple but meaningful hand-sewn gift is mentioned. When you link to the FREE showings where ‘Watch Parties are Encouraged,’ you can link to a special, printable design (also FREE) to stitch your own, sweet, mailable gift.”

While the free sewing design is still a mystery, the “dinner theatre-at-home menu” has already been released. It contains both the name of the food and where it can be purchased:



  • Cullman Festhalle Farmers Market Sicilian Bruschetta – Jennifer Branham, Facebook


  • Steele Orchard Alabama Apple and Pecan Salad – steeleorchard.com


  • Butcher Tamara’s Brickyard Meats – brickyardmeats.com
  • Johnny’s Barbecue Sauce – johnnysbarbq.com (also at Publix Grocery)


  • North Alabama Agriplex Sweet Potato Fries – agriplex.org


  • St. Bernard Monastery Monk’s Bread – avemariagrotto.com


  • Cullman Strawberry Festival Ice Cream – cullmanstrawberryfest.com
  • Grilled All-Steak Orange Rolls – allsteakrestaurant.com
  • Grilled Duchess Donuts – Duchess Donuts/Facebook


  • Goat Island Beer – goatislandbrewing.com
  • Dreher’s Bunny Melon Cocktail by Christine Chambliss, mixologist/owner – Dreher’s Cocktail Bar & Restaurant/Facebook
  • Karma’s Coffee by Katie Fine, barista/owner – karmascoffeehouse.com

The press release also identified some figures who were key to the making of this project:

  • Tekoa Walker – teen actress playing the granddaughter of the story
  • Melva Hackbarth Jackson – actress playing the grandmother of the story
  • Morgan Wooten – designer for promotional graphics
  • Chandler Ogles – Wallace State student who composed some of the symphonic pieces
  • Brian Kirk – videographer and composer of some musical pieces
  • Kathy Lee – heritage sewing instructor at the Agriplex who created the audience participation craft
  • The Ladies Prayer and Wine Circle – group of community women who critiqued the work to make sure the male playwright understood how to portray female characters

Actresses Walker and Jackson both stated that the inter-generational aspect of the production makes for an enjoyable and relatable experience, with the characters described as “strong, loving, fun women that viewers are going to embrace” by Jackson herself. Described as an “intimate but universal story about family love and loss during the coronavirus pandemic,” South believes that the family experiences portrayed in the show will connect with everyone who watches.


The production will go live at 7 p.m.  Sunday, May 9th on Cullman Parks and Rec’s Facebook page.

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Heather Mann