DIAMOND — Two young actors from the Bright Star Theatre presented two performances of George Washington Carver and Friends, during Saturday’s Carver Day at the George Washington Carver National Monument.

DIAMOND — Two young actors from the Bright Star Theatre presented two performances of  George Washington Carver and Friends, during Saturday’s Carver Day at the George Washington Carver National Monument.  
Identified only as Jillian and Devante, in Bright Star Theatre policy, the pair brought to life noted inventor and scientist George Washington Carver and other noted African-American individuals.
Jillian portrayed Dorothy St. Clair, a student engaged in a research project about Carver.  When she happens to meet him in his laboratory, she is delighted and when he steps out to find another book she can use, other characters arrive.
Devante portrayed both Carver and the remainder of the cast of Carver's friends, each a noteworthy African-American. These included Jackie Robinson, the first black pro baseball player, George Crum, who created the potato chip 1853 as a response to a disgruntled patron who sent back a dish of fried potatoes, Willie Johnson, inventor of the egg beater, Madame CJ Walker, the first black woman to become a millionaire and who created a line of beauty products,  Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, a black doctor who performed the first open heart surgery in 1893, Dennis Weatherby, the chemist who created Cascade for dishwashers, attorney and first black Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, black philanthropist, orator, advisor and educator Booker T. Washington, and African-American educator Mary McLeod Bethune, educator, stateswoman and Civil Rights activist.
Jim Heaney, superintendent of the monument, introduced the performances by welcoming visitors to Carver Day.  
"This is a commemorative event we have here every year," he said. "It's always the second Saturday in July and celebrates establishment of the park. Carver is the first national monument dedicated to an African-American.
"We're going to start off with something you for. It's dynamite and it has a lot of introaction with the audience. It begins with George Washington Carver in his laboratory."
George Washington Carver and Friends is designed to be performed for youth from pre-kindergarten through 5th grade, but appeals to all ages. Bright Star Theatre is a touring company that performs from Seattle, Washington to Moscow, Russia. Bright Star has over a thousand performances each year in at least 35 states and multiple touring teams who make the performances come to life.
The two performances at Carver Day played to a packed house. Children in the audience were invited to participate by answering questions and a few were selected to be part of the show.
When Devante, in character as Carver asked for ideas of things that could be invented, the youth provided answers that included a hologram calendar, a recycling center that could be assembled in a garage and a time machine.
"I declare you are a smart bunch," Carver told the kids.  
Later, Audrey, Caden, and Alex were chosen from the audience to represent the three branches of government, executive, legislative, and judicial.
The play was penned by Bright Star founder David Ostergaard, who has won both an Emmy and an Academy Award for other work. Bright Star Theatre, based in Arden, North Carolina, is in their 15th year of operation. The play, George Washington Carver and Friends, is currently in its third  year of production.
At the end of the first performance, Jillian told the audience, "We act (and do) four different shows. We actually don't do this show anyplace else."
It is performed in other areas, however, with a different team of actors.
Bright Star Touring Theatre specializes in literary, curriculum, and character education based performances that are at home in any space. For more information about Bright Star, visit www.brightstartheatre.com.