He had originally planned to act in the Pittsburgh Playwrights’ upcoming production of August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, but Mark Clayton Southers decided to take the director’s chair instead. After a car wreck earlier this year left him with serious injuries, Southers is happy to be able to be involved in the production at all.
“It was worse for my family, for my wife,” Southers says of the May 11 crash. “I was unconscious for five weeks, but my wife lived through every moment of it.”
Southers, a father of three, was in a coma for five weeks and in the hospital for five months, with a left leg so badly mangled that he nearly lost it to amputation.
Along with his physical well-being, Southers’ finances also took a hit. So a group of friends has rallied around him to create a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of $25,000 as well as a Nov. 23rd benefit at the August Wilson Center called ReMarkAble.
“He’s just been a great friend to people in Pittsburgh theater,” says playwright Ray Werner, a colleague from Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company, the organization Southers founded in 2003. Werner says Southers and his organization have helped countless local playwrights. “He builds sets, he acts, he writes, he does it all. He’s done so much for other people that it’s no surprise so many people want to help him.”
A $25 pledge to the GoFundMe campaign for Southers will get you a ticket to the ReMarkAble event Nov. 23rd at the August Wilson Center. The event will feature readings of Southers’ “Chronicles,” a series of Facebook posts he wrote while recuperating, that he collected into a chronological story of his ordeal, complete with photos of him in his hospital bed. Some of the pieces are philosophical, like “Little Dude II,” about his sons, and “Prayer for My Leg,” and others are short observations about his recovery, like “Pills,” (at one point he was up to 34 pills a day).
Southers is still in a wheelchair, but has been walking short distances a little bit at a time, he says. And he’s looking ahead, to walking into the opening night at The Piano Lesson.
“My goal is to adjust to whatever and wherever the good Lord takes me,” Southers says of his injury. “I’m not going to let it keep me from doing things I want to do.”