Residents of central Indiana, where Jim Jones began his Peoples Temple, are marking the 25th anniversary of Jonestown by presenting a readers’ theatre production of “The Onliest One Alive,” based on the as-told-to autobiography of Hyacinth Thrash, Jonestown survivor.
The script for the 3-person, African American cast, production was written by Marsha Grant, adapted from the book of the same name by Marian Towne. It explains why Hyacinth Thrash and her sister, Zipporah Edwards, joined Jones’s church in Indianapolis and followed him to California and Jonestown, Guyana, and why Ms. Thrash could develop into the kind of woman who could survive. Ms. Thrash was the only one to wake up on the Jonestown compound in the morning after the November 18, 1978, mass murder-suicide.
“When I got outside, it was like a ghost town. I didn’t see or hear anybody. I went to another senior citizen building where my friend Birdy lived. When I got to the door, I saw Birdy sitting in the chair draped in a sheet. I could tell it was Birdy by her shoes. I says, ‘Birdy, Birdy, what’s wrong?’ But she didn’t move. Then I looked behind Birdy and saw Sister Lavina. She was covered up too. I pulled the sheet back to look at her. She was dead.
“I looked down the row of beds and all the people were either sitting up or laying in bed. They were all covered with sheets. I called, ‘Bates! Bates!’ but she didn’t answer. I said, ‘Oh, my God, they came and killed them all, and I’s the onliest one alive! Why didn’t they take me too?'”
Upcoming performances include the following:
November 16, 1:30 p.m., Unity of Indianapolis, 907 North Delaware.
November 20, 8:30 a.m., Christian Theological Seminary, 1000 W. 42nd St., Indianapolis, Room 164.
November 23, 2 p.m., X-Pression Bookstore, 970 Fort Wayne Avenue, Indianapolis.
The 140-page book, The Onliest One Alive, with 5 photographs, which retails for $10 plus $2.17 for postage and cushioned mailer, is available from Marian Towne, 5129 N. Illinois St., Indianapolis, IN 46208. Telephone: (317) 253-7973. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.