During Pilgrimage, a new 'Tales' tradition

April 6, 2011 10:08:00 AM

Ryan Poe - [email protected]


Walking through Friendship Cemetery at night, the Tales from the Crypt student performers have an almost ghostly quality as they tell their tales. 


But this year, three of the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science students -- Ericka Wheeler, GesTine Finley and Taylor Galmiche have -- may also look a little familiar. Perhaps that''s because they''ve all have siblings participate in previous versions of the project, which is now in its 21st year. 


"I was really excited she kept up the family tradition," said GeNita Finley, older sister of GesTine. "It was definitely an invigorating experience being able to have an active presence in history." 


GesTine Finley, of Clarksdale, plays Lucretia Green, a litigant in a contested divorce in 1869 whose son later became a pastor in Alabama. She and other performers research a person through historic documents and recreate their lives and drama. 


Among the characters this year are Confederate States of America generals, former Mississippi governors and a U.S. congressman. 


Although the students build connections with their characters, MSMS History Department teacher Chuck Yarborough said this is the first year they''ve had connections to former performers. 


"The younger siblings come up aspiring to follow in the footsteps of the older kids," he said. "But the kids who have gone through Tales of the Crypt are all connected." 


In the graveyard, he continued, the stories take on an eerie nature, binding the performers together and holding the audience spellbound. 


"It develops into a real team effort," he said. "It''s a pretty cool thing to watch happen. Anytime you can see your people work together to produce something excellent for their community, that''s a special thing." 


There are two more performances this week at Friendship Cemetery: tonight and Friday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are $2 for students and $4 for adults. 


71st Spring Pilgrimage events 


· Home and church tours, tickets and general info: Columbus Cultural Heritage Foundation antebellum home, garden and church tours, plus special events, through Saturday. Tickets and more info: Tennessee Williams Welcome Center, 300 Main St.; 662-328-0222, 662-920-3533, or columbus-ms.org. 


· Tales from the Crypt: Tonight and Friday 7-10 p.m. at Friendship Cemetery. Bring the family to these dramatic re-enactments by Mississippi School for Math and Science students. $4 adults; $2 children. (Please arrive no later than 9 p.m. for the last walking tour.)n Noon Tunes: Thursday, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Welcome Center. Relax with live music and lunch available for purchase. 


· Carriage rides: Friday and Saturday, departing from the welcome center. See the historic district from a different perspective. 


· Book signing: Saturday, 10 a.m., with Lynne Bryant, author of "Catfish Alley." 


· Grilling on the River: Friday (4-11 p.m.), Saturday (10 a.m.-6 p.m.) Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned competition, food fair, vendors, family fun; free. Donations benefit the Columbus-Lowndes Humane Society. 


· Tour of Kitchens: Saturday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Tour three Columbus kitchens, complete with craftsmen on hand and tastings from local restaurants, to benefit the Columbus Girlchoir ($20). 


· Antique jewelry show: At White Arches during Pilgrimage tours, presented by Carlton Gorman. 


· Double decker bus tours: Inquire at Welcome Center for times. $5 with purchase of a tour ticket; $8 without.