“I’ve always had a vivid imagination,” Lincolnton playwright and director Earline Smith said.
She is set to showcase her next production “Do You See What I See” 7 p.m. Saturday at the Lincoln Cultural Center.
The mostly comedic storyline conveys a serious message to audience members that life isn’t always what it seems.
“The drama of it comes at the end,” she said.
Smith couldn’t reveal too much of the plot without exposing her story’s twists, she said.
Each year, the local writer, who also acts in her plays along with daughter Samantha Smith and 11-year-old Kayla Smith, carries out a large-scale production for the local community. While she mainly presents them at the Cultural Center, she has also held them in the past at locations throughout Catawba County and once at Fort Caswell in Oak Island, N.C.
The Lincoln County native has been acting and using her imagination since the age of five.
She said she used to sit every afternoon with her mother and aunt around a coffee table with her two imaginary friends, eating apples, which she pretended was chicken, and drinking Kool-Aid.
She gained even more inspiration for writing after winning her first essay contest in the fourth grade.
“It (writing) gives me an outlet,” Smith said. “It rejuvenates me.”
She not only tries to imagine herself in each of her plays’ settings but also takes a unique approach to “auditioning” actors.
“I pick the cast from watching people and observing them,” she said. “I can hear them speaking and put it together in my mind.”
Several of her cast members take part in more than one of her shows, particularly Lincoln County resident Sue Franklin, one of Smith’s co-workers.
Franklin fills two separate roles in “Do You See What I See.” She plays both a receptionist and a client at a social work agency, where she said people throughout the show flock for financial aid and other assistance.
Franklin enjoys tackling “silly” roles but has more trouble portraying more serious characters, she said.
She described the play as “funny” but noted it also contains a “good meaning” that people’s perceptions of others aren’t always accurate.
Fellow actor Vernice Coulter, of Maiden, who attends church with Smith, plays the manager of an upscale bar “Dirty Harry’s.” During the show, she threatens to call club bouncers on certain individuals at the facility.
“I have fun,” Coulter said of her performance.
She, too, noted how Smith’s most recent production depicts a common societal problem–people treat each other differently based on appearance and false discernment.
In addition to plays, Smith writes poetry and skits.
She said she already has her next story “on the back burner”–about child abuse–but isn’t sure whether it will be in the form of a play or poem.
Each of her creations stems from personal experience and maintains a vital moral or lesson.
Smith hopes to one day maintain a local performing arts nonprofit called Entertainment for God Productions–a vision she’s had for at least the last three years, she said.
She is currently raising money and working out all the kinks involved with the tedious process but would like to turn her dream into an official 501(c)(3) organization within a year.
Smith receives much of her productions’ financial assistance and physical donations from Lincoln County Coalition of Churches, the Cultural Center and various local businesses.
She also received specific donations for door prizes for Saturday’s show. Items will be handed out during intermission.
The show will also feature a mime team and praise and worship group from Moore’s Chapel Baptist Church in Lincolnton.
For more information on the production or to purchase tickets, contact the Lincoln Cultural Center at (704) 732-9055.