‘SATW!’ returns to GPAC for 50th anniversary

By: By Mark Locklear

PEMBROKE — “Strike at the Wind!” returns to Givens Performing Arts Center for two shows as part of the 50th anniversary of Lumbee Homecoming.

The iconic drama, which tells the local story of the Lowrie War in 1865, will be performed June 30 and July 1. A youth matinee, which will feature an abbreviated version, will play Thursday.

“Strike at the Wind!” returned in 2017 after a 10-year hiatus thanks to the collaborative efforts of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke and the Lumbee Tribe.

The play ran from 1976 to 1996 and was staged at the Adolph Dial Amphitheater at the Lumbee Tribal Cultural Center. It returned in 1999 and again in 2007.

Jonathan Drahos, the play’s director, said 95 percent of the 2017 cast is back, including Matthew Jacobs and Wynona Oxendine who play the lead roles of Henry Berry Lowrie and his wife, Rhoda Strong.

“Everyone is excited to be back again this year,” said Drahos, director of UNCP Theatre. “The fact that most of the cast is back is a real positive step in the right direction. They were inspired last year by the spirit of the play and the audience response.”

The play chronicles the life of Lowrie who led a band of men in a seven-year battle against those he believed killed his father and brother.

“The play celebrates the heroic effort of a culture of people,” Drahos said. “This story is one example of the enduring spirit of the Lumbee people and how much their culture has changed history.

“Henry Berry was someone who was able to move the conversation forward toward equality and justice and that, to me, is the most important aspect of the play. His gang had Native Americans, whites and blacks — people of all races — fighting together for one cause. We need important causes like that in order to progress.”

This year “Strike at the Wind!” will feature live musical performances by local artists, including Charly Lowry, Mark McKinney & Company, Lakota John, Alexis Jones and Kirk Blue. They will be performing the play’s original songs composed by the late Willie French Lowery.

“Live music, I think, is going to be a major shift from what the audience saw last year,” Drahos said. “It adds a new element. It’s going to be exciting.”

Wynona Oxendine, a graduate of UNCP’s theatre program, teaches drama at Seventy-First High School.

“This play tells such a legendary story,” she said. “This year the audience is in for another high-energy epic production. We are all super excited.”

The Thursday youth matinee begins at 1 p.m. and tickets are $5. The June 30 show begins at 8 p.m. and the July 1 at 5 p.m. Tickets prices for the evening shows are $15. For tickets, call 910-521-6361 or go online to uncp.edu/gpactickets.


By Mark Locklear

Mark Locklear is a Public Communications specialist for The University of North Carolina at Pembroke Communications & Marketing.

Mark Locklear is a Public Communications specialist for The University of North Carolina at Pembroke Communications & Marketing.