A play examining ‘Children of the Dust Bowl’ is coming to a Gallo Center stage

The Gallo Center Repertory Company is staging “Children of the Dust Bowl,” a 1930s experience that still resonates in the Modesto area.

The first of the two performances, on Thursday, Oct. 10, will be followed by a Q&A with Modesto Bee staff writer John Holland. He was the lead reporter on a four-day series in 2008 that told the story of Dust Bowl migrants to the area.

(Day 1 of The Bee’s 2008 Special Report)

The performances will be at 7 p.m. Thursday and the same time Friday, Oct. 11, at the Gallo Center for the Arts, 1000 I St., Modesto. The tickets – $15, $20 and $30 – can be purchased at the box office or at tickets.galloarts.org.

“Children of the Dust Bowl” is based on a book by Jerry Stanley about a school in the Weedpatch migrant camp in Kern County. It was adapted for the stage by Jim Johnson, artistic director for the repertory company. He and Kimberly Ogden co-direct the performances.

The Dust Bowl happened amid drought in the Great Plains, where windstorms whipped farm soil into massive clouds.

This disaster, combined with the Depression, forced about a quarter-million people to California. About 70,000 of them settled in Stanislaus and other counties in the San Joaquin Valley.

The migrants struggled at first, but they eventually put down roots and left their marks in politics, religion, music, food and other aspects of Valley life.

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