Tableaux 2012: Raising the historical bar

Published 12:01 am Saturday, March 10, 2012

LAUREN WOOD/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Confederate flag runner Cody Bradford runs with the first official flag of the Confederacy, or the Stars and Bars, during the opening night of the Historic Natchez Tableaux Friday night at City Auditorium. The tableaux will also feature the Confederate Battle Flag during this year’s performances.

NATCHEZ — A revamping of the Historic Natchez Tableaux last year proved to be just what was needed to revitalize the 80-year-old Natchez tradition, but one scene is going back to the drawing board.

New changes to the script that featured nine separate scenes from history, speaking parts and voice-overs were added last year to make the tableaux more historically accurate and focus more on Natchez’s true history.

Traditionally, the tableaux ended with a scene featuring the Confederate flag.

In an effort to be more historically accurate, last year the flag tableau featured the First National Flag or “Stars and Bars” that depicts a blue square with seven stars.

After further historical research, this year’s flag tableau will feature both the First National Flag at the beginning and the Confederate Battle Flag, or the “Southern Cross,” at the end.

Martha Salters, Pilgrimage Garden Club Tableaux Committee co-chairman, said the change in the flags shows the full progression of the confederacy throughout the war.

The First National Flag was the first official flag of the Confederacy and had seven stars representing the seven states that originally joined the Confederacy.

Salters said this flag will be used during the beginning portion of the flag tableau when a Confederate soldier announces that the Confederacy is going to war.

The Confederate Battle Flag was created after the Confederate Stars and Bars and the U.S. Stars and Stripes proved hard to differentiate from a surrender flag from a distance.

Salters said this flag will be used during the end portion of the flag tableau when the Confederate flag bows to the American flag, just before the national anthem.

“It is a controversial flag, but by the end of the war they were using this flag, so this is the one we will use,” Salters said. “It shows the progressions of the confederacy, and that’s what the whole tableaux does.”

Marsha Colson, president of the Pilgrimage Garden Club, said she hopes audience members put aside controversy and understand the importance of using the Confederate flag.

“We are using it because it was a symbol that was used at that time and to use it in that way, when it’s submitted to the American flag, is a positive message that we are a united nation,” Colson said.

The Natchez Tableaux is at 8 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at the Natchez City Auditorium and will run through April 7.

Tickets are $15 per adult and $7 for children. Tickets can be purchased at Natchez Pilgrimage Tours in the Visitor Reception Center or at the auditorium.

Friday’s performance of the Natchez Tableaux kicked off Spring Pilgrimage, which officially starts today.

The Spring Pilgrimage features tours of 30 historic homes and properties with three houses rotating through a morning, 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., and afternoon, 1:30 to 5 p.m., schedule.

The tours rotate through color-coded groups with signs leading visitors to each historic house.

On tour today from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. is the red tour, including Governor Holmes House, Hawthorne and Elms Court.

From 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. is the blue tour, including Green Leaves, Oakland and Lansdowne.

On Sunday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. is the pink tour, including Ellicott Hill, Banker’s House and The Towers.

From 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. is the yellow tour, including Greenlea, Texada and Selma.

Tickets for the three-house tours are $30 per adult and $18 for children ages 6 to 18.

Three-house minibus tours at $45 for adults and $32 for children, including tour, tickets and transportation.

Tickets can be purchased from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Natchez Visitor Reception Center.

The 2012 Spring Pilgrimage continues through April 14. For more information, visit www.natchezpilgrimage.com.