'Dear School Board, Can We Pray' takes stage Saturday

Lance Gardner’s production of his gospel stage play “Dear School Board, Can We Pray?” will take place on Sunday, Jan. 5. at the Mount Olive Baptist Church, 600 N. Simmons St. Doors will open at 5 p.m.

“I never set out to be the next Tyler Perry,” said Gardner on his experience as a gospel-play writer.

Gardner is a Lake Charles native and graduate of Washington-Marion High School. His first stage play, “A Chair and the Bible,” premiered at the Lake Charles Civic Center in 2011 after a series of mishaps forced him to write his own play.

After another local playwright backed out of the production, Gardner wrote and assembled an entire play in three weeks.

“Dear School Board, Can We Pray?” is his seventh stage play. It is an ensemble piece with 10 different performers (including Gardner) set in a public school where a number of students and faculty come together and learn the meaning and power of prayer. Many of the performers have acted in other productions.

“I picked this stage play because I feel the schools have done all they can do to reach the kids. They have maxed out all that they can do except for fall back on the Lord. I feel like if they do that, a lot of kids would be saved.”

“We need God back in the schools,” said Briana Rankins, who plays Viola. “It’s like the devil is taking over the young kids’ minds, ‘cause all this drama and all these killings (in schools) is too much.”

The play is also being presented in conjunction with Grambling State University’s Ray D. Molo Alumni Association chapter as a scholarship fundraiser.

Donations will be collected after the play.