Six Triple Eight (The Stage Play)


LEESBURG – Veterans, family and friends of Lake County experienced an early celebration of Veterans Day as they attended a historical play titled Six Triple Eight. The stage play was sponsored by Royal Highlands African Heritage Club, and held at the Royal Highlands Great Hall on November 4, 2023 in Leesburg, Florida.

Six Triple Eight is the name for battalion 6888, a group of Black Women WAC’s who were commissioned to resolve a mail problem during World War 2. Mail had not been delivered to the soldiers in two years. It was the assigned task of the Six Triple Eight to get that undelivered mail to the soldiers in 6 months.

Ms. Mary McCallum, the playwright, systematically established the main conflict, the mail issue, but also made sure an important underlying issue: the perception whites held about Blacks: was strategically brought to the forefront by Major Dixon, superbly played by T’Keyah Crystal Keymah.

Many whites, not only those in the armed forces, thought Blacks were incompetent, and therefore wouldn’t be able to do job. Get the mail to the soldiers in the allotted time, which was 6 months.  Thank God for Major Dixon.  She made a bet with the white Major Greer that they would succeed with the task and but also making sure that the mail would be delivered to the soldiers in three months instead of six.  Undoubtedly, a challenge – don’t underestimate Black people.

Despite the white major telling Major Dixon she had undertaken a formidable task, Major Dixon attempted to dispel the perception of Blacks being incompetent and unreliable.

The four Black women roommates grappled with clashing personalities, cultural beliefs, and family drama. This was another conflict in the play that really connected with the audience, especially those who could identify people being born with a veil on their face, like Sadie, played by Mary McCallum, the playwright. Some Blacks have their doubts, but we do not discount the power of one born with a veil.

The tragic death of a son of one of the women, who never was willing to accept Sadie’s power to see into the future and her reaction to the tragedy was climatic.  It created a reckoning of the two forces of Christian’s belief and the supernatural beliefs in spirits.

Another issue bringing the reality of the mail problem to life for the soldiers was love and deceit.  The characters included the youngest WAC, Sammy, who fell in love with Otis, a soldier, portrayed by Shawn Whitsell.  Otis had a girl back home that he thought he loved but didn’t know if the girl truly loved him. Sammy shows how love can make you act on emotions, but the way the incident played out, the audience should have understood – love can make a person do stupid and selfish acts.

The play was well written and the heartfelt, compassionate cast, which included Molly Breen, Naeaidria Callihan, Jayan Downes, DaJuana “Dee” Hammonds, and Candace Omnira fantastically, pulled the two act play together for a successful evening of entertainment about an historical Black veteran’s event, which many are not aware of.

I highly recommend that “Six Triple Eight” be seen not only for its true historical content about the role Blacks played in the United States Armed Forces, but the acting was intriguing.

Kudos for the play and its cast.