The Ladies of the Sacred South
contemporary comedy
115 pages WGA Registered

Mary Ann Amato
to view PDF of first 10 pages of
Five Scheming little old ladies must cook the dinner of their lives in order to save their decaying plantation museum from the clutches of academia.
adapted from the author's professionally-produced play, "Pilgrimage"*
The Blowing Rock Stage Company  Blowing Rock, North Carolina
History is religion in the South. And in a sleepy Georgia town The Ladies of the Sacred South are its High Priestesses.

They own and operate a decaying Plantation Museum. Unfortunately, the Ladies are equally decaying but exceptionally spry as the battle a big-city historian and his seductive female protegee who are seeking to buy the museum.

The Ladies summon up a thunderstorm, lost treasure, a candlelit dinner, and the Spirit of a Confederate Captain to defeat academia and modernity.
An historian and his young female protégé arrive in a sleepy Georgia town looking for old houses to include in the state Historical Society’s annual Pilgrimage.

The town has 2 such houses: Pinehill and Magnolia Grove. Pinehill is a modern museum run by professionals. Magnolia Grove is a decaying mansion run by THE LADIES OF THE SACRED SOUTH, five eccentric, lovable, old dears who this day are celebrating “Mortification Day”, an annual observance of Miss Rachel Hampton’s “Mortification at the hands of the Yankee invaders during the War for Southern Independence”

The central event in the history of Magnolia Grove involves Rachel Hampton, her daughter, Hominy Ann, and her fiancé Confederate Captain Roger Swain. On their wedding day Captain Swain was killed by a Yankee sharpshooter.

The Ladies are particularly anxious that Magnolia Grove be chosen for the Pilgrimage. The Building Inspector and Fire Marshall will close the museum if it is not renovated. The money from the Pilgrimage will save Magnolia Grove.

The historian and his protégé arrive unannounced, taking the tour with the oldest and most venerable member of THE LADIES OF THE SACRED SOUTH, who has a tendency to confuse furniture styles with cheeses. Please note the authentic Wensleydale sidechair. Don’t miss the Cheddar Chandelier. And the Camembert sofa.

The President of The Ladies of the Sacred South, hoping to erase this rather cheesy impression of their museum, has no choice but to use the greatest weapon in the old ladies’ arsenal: their cooking. And so invite the historian and his protégé to return that evening for dinner.

Magnolia Grove, dingy and dilapidated by day, is mysterious and evocative by night. A threatening storm seems to call out the ghosts of the Past.

To ensure the success of the dinner, the Ladies prevail upon a transplanted California actor, and local little theater staple,  to appear in the guise of Captain Swain. He performs his role in an over the top performance, even by little theater standards

The dinner, the thunderstorm, the candlelight, and the “appearance” of Captain Swain are not enough. The historian has chosen Pinehill for the Pilgrimage and reveals that his mission all along was to buy Magnolia Grove. He presents them with a generous check.

Which The Ladies refuse.

But then much to the actor’s surprise, his performance continues. And this time he is really acting or
something is happening.

As it happens,
something is happening.

Acting through the actor, The Spirit of Captain Swain has returned to the house of his fiancé and reveals the location of hidden jewels with which Magnolia Grove can be saved.

But The Ladies know the rightful owner of the jewels is Pinehill. If they keep this to themselves, they are saved. If not, they are lost. They sadly appoint a committee to form a delegation to return the jewels to Pinehill.

In the face of such devotion to their Past, the historian weakens. He proposes an accommodation with the State Society.

The Ladies reject it. Instead they propose --- Marriage.

Between THE LADIES OF THE SACRED SOUTH and the historian.

Now it is clear to the protégé why The Ladies keep asking for glasses of Port.

Their dowry is the house, its contents, and them. The historian in return stays and runs the museum for them.

Amused and deeply moved, the historian leaves but vows to find a way to save the house.  The Ladies know that once he leaves he’ll never return. But he walks away.

The evening mist rolls in. Out of the mist returns the historian, suitcase in hand.

What has he done? The place needs everything. It has nothing.

What the historian needs is a glass of Port.

No. What he needs is a barrel of Port. . . .
*this screenplay is adapted from Raleigh Marcell's play, PILGRIMAGE
first produced by the Blowing Rock Stage Company, Blowing Rock, NC

from the Reviews:

"Historic preservation doesn't sound like a likely topic for comedy, but Raleigh Marcell's 'Pilgrimage' transforms a dry subject into an always pleasant and amusing play about the South."  
Tony Brown

"The Blowing Rock Stage Company is currently presenting the new Southern comedy 'Pilgrimage', which is clearly destined for great things. It's the best play of its genre since 'Driving Miss Daisy' and 'Steel Magnolas', and would be perfect for the screen."
Jim Thompson

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