The People vs Leo Frank

The first thing our audience should know about our next production, Parade, is that it is based on a true story about the murder of a young girl, Mary Phagan, and Leo Frank (the show’s lead character) who is accused of committing the crime. The story unfolds in Atlanta, Georgia in 1913.

Whether Leo is guilty of what he’s accused becomes the central theme of the plot, and thanks to a sensationalist reporter, a janitor’s false testimony and a prosecuting attorney with an ulterior motive, Leo begins to look guilty in the eyes of everyone around him.

But to understand Leo Frank’s plight in Parade, you must first understand the society in which he was living. In 1914, Atlanta, Georgia, was still living under the shadow of the disastrous outcome of the Civil War just 50 years earlier (known to the people of Georgia as the War of Northern Aggression). Its people were proud, patriotic and still vulnerable, adjusting to a world in which their ideals of slavery and gentility no longer had a place.

Parade MAODS

The war had all but destroyed Georgia’s economy, and it remained a poor state well into the twentieth century. In the early 1900’s, Atlanta began to experience a significant economic and social shift. Its economy was strengthening due to a rise in manufacturing and commerce, and many people from neighbouring countryside (including Marietta, Mary Phagan’s birthplace) were moving in to the city to find work. Housing was basic and primitive, and employment conditions were harsh, including child labour, low wages, unsafe working conditions and long working hours.

Traditionally minded men from the rural communities were unhappy with the thought of women being forced into work, and it was seen as corruptive and dangerous to allow men and women to work together. Many of them felt duty-bound to protect the women and children in their community from the dangers of this new way of life as, in many cases, moving into the city from their remote farmhouses would have left them exposed to new and potentially threatening situations. A Brooklyn-born, educated, Jewish factory superintendent like Leo Frank would have seemed outlandish and unfamiliar to these small-town folk.

Leo Frank managed the National Pencil Company, where Mary Phagan worked and where the events of the story of Parade unfold. He was a graduate of Cornell University, and had moved to Atlanta from Brooklyn, New York just five years earlier to take up the job and marry Lucille Selig, from a prominent upper-class Jewish family. Leo symbolised much of what the Georgian people hated about the north. He was a local figurehead for the exploitative working conditions dictated by wealthier northern factory owners who profited from child labour.

Parade MAODS

Leo became a scapegoat for the resentment people felt towards this system and Tom Watson, a local politician and editor of the Jeffersonian, used anti-semitism to further stir up the public’s hate for him.

Parade tells the story of Leo’s trial, and offers a moral lesson about the dangers of prejudice and ignorance. The subject matter makes for a gripping, powerful plot, and Jason Robert-Brown’s stunning score and our casts’ performances make for a very emotional show that is not easily forgotten.

Come along to see the show if you want to know whether Leo is innocent or guilty of the crime. We can assure you that we’ll present you with a spellbinding production that will set your spine tingling and leave you thinking long after you’ve left the theatre.

We have some fantastic offers available too, which make this a really good-value night out:

All other tickets £15

Book here or call Ticket Secretary Pauline Davenport on 07717594274.

Parade MAODS

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