Is So Good
based on the book by George
Dawson and Richard Glaubman
you go to the theater to have your soul
uplifted, experience the magic that great
productions create or watch first-rate
talent on stage and off, you'll get it all
is So Good."
News and Observer.
Is So Good -- The story of two
men - one looking backward into history, and one
looking forward to the future. They meet
to form a remarkable friendship.
In 1998, elementary school teacher Richard
Glaubman reads an article about a Texas man who
learned to read and write at age 98. Inspired
and intrigued, Glaubman arranges to meet him.
Eventually the two men collaborate to write the
award-winning book Life
Is So Good. The book tells the story of
George Dawson's remarkable life, showing us the
entire 20th century through his eyes and
detailing his determination to continue his
education and become literate after nearly a
century of life.
The unlikely friendship between Dawson and
Glaubman serves as the foundation for the
original stage production of Life Is So Good. Actors
Mike Wiley and David zum Brunnen portray the two
central narrators, as well as numerous other
characters. Serena Ebhardt directs.
inspirational life offers valuable lessons in
living fully, as well as a first-hand view of
America during the 20th century. Dawson shares
his insights into humanity, history, hardships,
honor, and happiness. From segregation and civil
rights, to wars, presidents, and defining
moments in history, George Dawson manages to
find the secret of a long and happy life in a
simple philosophy: "Life
is so good. And I do believe it's getting
Though he was only twelve years old when he left
home to work on a white family's farm, Dawson
took with him his parents' positive outlook:
appreciation of what he had, the wise observance
of others, and common sense. Dawson's
quest to make a living and raise a family take
him on many perilous adventures that he survives
with optimism. Dawson reflects on his story with
moving prescription for a satisfying and
Through his association with Dawson, Richard
Glaubman examines his own perceptions of race
and history. While prompting Dawson's
memories and recording the answers, Glaubman and
Dawson become awkward, but real friends.
They each have something to learn and
teach. The ultimate test of friendship
between the two men comes when Glaubman presents
Dawson with the publishing contract for their
book. Dawson, who has been told not to
trust white men, chooses faith in a friend and
the future, over traditional advice.
Glaubman's life is forever changed as he
reflects on his newfound appreciation for life.
The George Dawson Literacy Awareness Campaign
continues to inspire young people to read.
Richard Glaubman has since written another book
about his friendship with George Dawson called,
More Than A
Book; A Story Of Friendship.
The original book, Life
Is So Good, and its subject George
Dawson were featured on Oprah's
Use Your Life Awards and in Guideposts
Is So Good received the 2001 Christopher
Award for Nonfiction for writers whose
work "affirms the highest values of the human
spirit". George Dawson died at the age of 104 in
2001, but was posthumously honored when the
Carroll Independent School District named a
middle school after him in Southlake, Texas.
While living, George Dawson also received two
Doctorates of Humane letters from Texas Weslyn
University and New School of New York City.
'Life is So Good'
By Roy C. Dicks - Correspondent
Published: Thu, Oct. 16, 2008
HOLLY SPRINGS -- If you go to the theater to have
your soul uplifted, experience the magic that great
productions create or watch first-rate talent on
stage and off, you'll get it all in "Life is So
EbzB Productions, collaborating with
actor/playwright Mike Wiley, adapted its show from
the book of the same title about George Dawson, a
descendant of slaves who lived through the 20th
His experience of turmoil and prejudice was
magnified because he was illiterate. Despite harsh
treatment and poverty, he enjoyed life and rose
above institutional racism in his Texas town.
When Richard Glaubman read an article about Dawson's
learning to read at 98, he befriended Dawson,
interviewed him about his life, then published the
book when Dawson was 101. The book also covers
Glaubman's journey gaining Dawson's trust and
overcoming rejection from publishers.
With Wiley in the cast, it's a given that
entertainment and thematic values will be equally
high. As in his riveting performance in EbzB's "Dar
He: The Story of Emmett Till," Wiley not only plays
Dawson at all stages of his life, with appropriate
vocal quality and body language, but a range of
characters: black, white, young, old, male, female.
Wiley can take your breath away with spot-on changes
in accent. He can make you see a white man or a
pea-shelling black grandmother with a tilt of the
head and a change in pitch.
Wiley is given fine support by David zum Brunnen,
who plays Glaubman and a similar range of
characters. Zum Brunnen's range is more restricted,
but he's convincing as a ladies' man riding the
rails or as an aristocratic woman.
Director Serena Ebhardt endows the production with
humor and emotion; the pace is tight yet never
rushed. She makes clever use of five sawhorses that
turn into chairs, doors, horse corrals, train
compartments or lynching platforms. Eric Ketchum's
lighting helps deftly divide the past from the
present, while Kevin Leonard's detailed, affecting
sound design adds defining ambience to every scene.
A tendency to snap back and forth between scenes can
be confusing, verging on showy effect, and scenes
are often short, preventing a strong narrative
thrust. But such quibbles don't lessen the overall
impact. See it for Wiley's estimable gifts and its
object lesson in engaging presentation.