AUGUSTA, GA. (WJBF)- Local performing arts center paid homage to James Brown and Martin Luther King Jr.

“This play here is like soul. You know, you’ve got to have soul to be in that play,” Augusta Mini Theatre Tyrone J. Butler said.

The Augusta Mini Theatre held a show in honor of two pioneers for the African-American community. 

A large crowd filled the room to watch students of all ages perform. 

“You don’t have to be rich– you can be rich– you can be Black, you can be white. As long as there’s an opening, it’s here, here,” Butler said. 

Richmond County Technical Career Magnet School senior Monae Burns has been with Augusta Mini Theatre since the 8th grade. 

“I really wanna thank the Augusta Mini Theatre for teaching me everything they’ve taught me, so many life fundamentals that I’m gonna take with me throughout the rest of my life– this is like my second home,” student Monae Burns said. 

The students had countless rehearsals where they not only practiced, but studied James Brown’s life. 

“It’s the fact that he’s from Augusta and like me, I have dreams and aspirations to go out and you know, put Augusta on the map just like he did. So, it’s just really understanding that he used to struggle, and he only had a seventh-grade education and still did amazing things and traveled the world and gave back to his community. So, that’s when I realized I wanna bring his story to life and tell it correctly,” student Christian Dunnum said. 

They say it’s because of people like Mr. Butler they even get the chance to learn and tell stories like Mr. Brown and Dr. King. 

“It’s an amazing place to learn and grow and come out of your shell, because I used to have stage fright a lot and once I came here and just broke out, you know, you learn a lot of life-skills. It’s not just a school for acting and drama, it’s a life skills school,” Dunnum said.

After high school, both seniors have big plans. 

“I do wanna major in biology and do a minor in drama and continue acting and I wanna become a pharmacist– you know, plan b– if acting doesn’t work out,” Burns said.

But they tell NewsChannel 6 they’ll always be grateful for what Augusta Mini Theatre has taught them. 

“Our directors are like our second parents– second set of parents– and I really love this place. And I really encourage students that wanna take visual arts, dance, drama, music; encourage them to come here because they’re gonna get a lot more than just how to do their art,” Burns said.