First week in Jonesborough with EPIC International (formerly Community Performance Internatnional)! Arrived Sunday night at long last and spent some time with Richard (Founder/Artistic Director), Jules (Playwright/Artistic Director), Jason (Set Designer) and Brett (Music Director). I worked with Richard and Jules at The Bauen Camp several years ago, but it was my first time meeting the others. We are all sharing a giant old Victorian house while we stay in Jonesborough for the project.
So, what will I be doing while I’m here? Richard named me “Production Assistant,” which is basically a nice way of saying that I’m the person who does whatever the heck needs to get done. How did I begin my work on this project? By sweeping. The performance will be taking place in a big old gym/auditorium in what used to be the black school during segregation, and it has been boarded up for several years. They knocked out all the drywall in the gym, so we’re left with the bare framework of the building – which looks pretty cool, but also means there’s a lot of demolition dirt lying around, and I got to clean it up! Since that first day I have been able to jump in on all kinds of things both set-wise (painting, jig-sawing, building things) as well as production-wise (assisting the stage manager by being on book during rehearsals, creating the props list, helping actors work on small bits and pieces).
The show is going to be great – it’s a series of true stories about the people of Jonesborough, and who knew there was so much history here? Apparently Jonesborough was the first town in Tennessee, and was also part of the short-lived 14th colony of Franklin (never fully recognized by Congress). It was also home to Daniel Boone, Davey Crockett, and the Buffalo Soldier who put the American flag up on San Juan hill. Currently, it is the home of the International Storytelling Center. There are some awesome stories in this show, which are told through great music, an awesome set (see picture below), and the actors are the people who live here, the people whose stories (and whose grandparent’s stories) are being told.
I’m bummed that I missed the story-gathering part of this process, but I’m excited to assist with putting on the show. Luckily, Tuesday morning I got to observe a storytelling circle among 4th graders at the local elementary school. This is part of a project that is running simultaneously with the performance project, and they are gathering stories from the students to put together in a play of/by/for the students that will be performed through the school. It was really fun to listen to the stories the kids had to tell – some serious, some funny, some that didn’t make sense or ended with “ummm I forget. Can you come back to me?” Next I will be helping out by reading through all the stories that have been gathered from students and working with Janna (the director) and Jules (the writer) to figure out which stories should make it into the play, and where we might be able to tie different stories together. Woo!!
And now, I’ve run out of time because I have to go back to working on some logistical stuff and maybe even reading some of the kids’ stories before I go back to the stage and help with building things! Crazy busy!
p.s. I also have to say a major THANK YOU to my roommate Zahra back in Boston, who helped me photoshop the new header image on this website, and who is still working on a few other images for me to add. Thank you Z!!! It makes the website so much better!