Traveling show to bring ‘The Fertile River’ to Waco

Courtesy Photo

The Baylor community has the opportunity to be astonished and fascinated by the traveling production of “The Fertile River” next weekend.

Written by playwright and poet Vincent Terrell Durham and produced by Baylor alumnus Alton J. Patton III, this play gives the audience a brief look into life the perspective of the Eugenics Board of North Carolina.

According to the Learn North Carolina website, the Eugenics Board was active from 1933 to 1977 and existed under the watch of the North Carolina General Assembly of 1929. The purpose of the Eugenics Board was to authorize, oversee and conduct the sterilization of “defective, feeble-minded or insane” members of society who were deemed unfit to carry children.

“‘The Fertile River’ brings up topics and issues that we don’t have to the opportunity to talk about,” Murphy senior Kelsey Ward said. “Since a large majority of the student population is white, we don’t often get to see the issues brought up by race and class. ‘The Fertile River’ confronts the sins and hateful past of American racism, which is a topic we can’t hide from if we want to move forward as a society.”

“The Fertile River” is a play set in 1958 that follows the strife of a family who find themselves at the mercy of The Eugenics Board of North Carolina. The Eugenics Board of North Carolina seeks to eradicate the lineage and legacy of this family for public policy.

Baylor will be hosting this play for one weekend only, but it will also offer an after-show session at the conclusion of each performance where the audience can participate in a discussion with some of the play staff and theatre department staff as well.

Professor Sam Henderson of the Baylor theatre arts department explained the meaningful nature of “The Fertile River” production.

“This play […] seeks to bring to light a story that has been in the shadows of American History,” Henderson said in an email to the Lariat. “We believe that recognizing some of the most uncomfortable parts of our history allows us to move on from it by learning from it. And we’d like as much of the Baylor community to engage in this conversation as possible.”

Students interested in being a part of the conversation can find tickets through the Baylor box office or on the Baylor theatre arts website The showings will be at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 16 and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 17. in the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center.