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By the time you read this, resistance will be futile. Chattanooga will have already been invaded by more than 4,000 actors, directors, designers, playwrights and theatre students for the 63rd Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC). Might as well join the party—and there are plenty of parties to join.
Though SETC serves as a professional opportunity to audition for actors of every age, and also offers a large range of classes and seminars for theatre folks, the five festivals, which are open to the public, are an amazing opportunity to see theatre of all kinds, right here in town. Several charge no admission, and the ones that do are a bargain. The Pulse spoke to the directors of all the festivals to get a flavor of what’s on the menu this year.
The Community Theatre Festival
Happening right at our own Chattanooga Theatre Centre, the Community Theatre Festival brings in the winners of individual contests in states covered by the SETC. Though all the participating theatres in this festival are called “community,” they are characterized by professional-level commitment from actors and directors, and the eight plays this year run the gamut from the recent Broadway offering “God of Carnage” (presented by the Tupelo Community Theatre from Mississippi) to the life-in-the-South favorite, “Dearly Departed” (presented by the Artists Collaborative Theater from Kentucky). Edgy fare comes from the West Virginia company MT Pockets Theatre, which is presenting “I Am My Own Wife,” the true story of a German transvestite who survives the Nazis.
“SETC was last here in 2004, and the area has changed since then,” says CTC Producing Artistic Director George Quick. “It’s very exciting, because you get to see what theatres are doing all over the Southeast.” The rules for doing a show in the festival are very specific, explained Festival Director Lyle Tate. “Each entry has 10 minutes to set up their playing area in a 10-by-10-ft. square, 60 minutes to perform, and 10 minutes to strike.” Participants are timed, and running long affects chances to win the competition.
“Theatres of all sizes compete in the festival. Some are very urban, some are very rural, but they all have the same passion for theatre,” says Tate. “If you can’t travel to eight different states to see theatre, it’s all here in Chattanooga—and you can’t beat the price.
Tickets are $10 for a “block” of shows, and the festival runs from 9 a.m. on March 9 to 1:30 p.m on March 10. For more information on shows and times, visit setc.org/theatre/ or theatre.first-sports.com.
Theatre by and for young people
Two separate festivals appeal to the young and the young at heart.
The 2012 High School Festival, at the Tivoli March 8 and 9, brings in high school theatre production winners from all over the region. Like the Community Theatre Festival, the 19-show line-up has huge range, from original plays to some musicals to classics. The entrants have “45 minutes from bare stage to bare stage,” says Festival Director Amy Hochinson. Although many of the participants do not go on to pursue theatre careers, some do, she says, and in any case, “It’s fun to see the kids up there. They care so much about what they do. It’s a chance for them to take their work where people have never seen it before. They work with their peers and build relationships.”
Productions this year include “Scenes from Metamorphoses” by Mississippi’s Oxford High School, “Radium Girls” by South Carolina’s Wando High School, and “How I Became A Pirate” by Tennessee’s Cordova High School. Blocks of tickets are $20; visit setc.org/theatre.
Local company Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga has an entry in SETC’s popular free Theatre for Youth Invitational Festival, March 8, in the Marriott Ballroom at the Convention Center. ETC will reprise founder Garry Lee Posey’s own “La Llorona: Three Tales,” a production based on Latino folk tales, still touring in local schools. “ ‘La Llorona’ was commissioned by the Latino Arts Project, and we revamped it for submission to the festival,” Posey says. “It’s not a typical children’s play, and appeals to a mixed audience of children and adults.”
In fact, the 25-year-old TYIF includes adults performing for young people, young people performing for young people (including colleges), and both professional and amateur groups. The other two entrants this year are “Pied Pipers,” presented by Troy University, and “Recess,” by the Whole Backstage Theatre. “This festival is not a competition,” explains Festival Director Amie Kisling. Feedback comes from “respondents,” who “ask questions and respond to the work they’ve seen, and help to start a conversation among the three companies.” Kisling notes that this festival is the perfect time for performers to discover the love for youth theatre she herself experienced. (She is now the associate education director at Lexington Children’s Theatre in Kentucky.)
Why should Chattanoogans come out to see this festival’s entrants? “We are telling some really beautiful stories,” she says, “and it gives young audiences and families a chance to see three completely different shows.” For schedule, visit setc.org/theatre.
Fast and Fringe
Each year at SETC, around 30 undergraduate and graduate SETC members become overnight playwrights, directors, stage managers and actors as they work through the night writing, rehearsing and performing six ten-minute plays as part of the Ten-Minute Play Festival, playing Thursday, March 8 at 10 p.m. at the Convention Center. It begins with actors performing audition monologues. Playwrights feverishly work through the night, creating plays around the actors, as well as a costume piece or prop they choose from a table.
“At 7 a.m., we call back the actors and read the plays out loud,” explains Festival Director Tim Bohn. “Then we assign the plays to the directors and give them what is usually a three-person cast. At 8 a.m., the playwrights leave to go sleep, but they return at 5 p.m., we tech through, and at 10 p.m. we put on a show of the plays.”
The plays end up being a mix of comedic and dramatic, Bohn says, and two professional playwrights critique the work, which often goes on to have a life beyond SETC. “One of the playwrights expanded his piece as an entry for the Louisville Humana Festival, for example,” Bohn says. Everyone who participates gets a chance to do “rough theatre, something that is a little dangerous. The playwrights must write something fresh, and people who don’t know each other build something together.”
The 9th Annual Fringe Festival, according to Festival Director Hardy Koenig, provides a place at SETC for theatres and shows that don’t fit the other festivals’ formats. Also, he notes, the eight shows come from all over the country, not just the states covered by SETC. Each entry must be no longer than an hour and 15 minutes, and often the shows here, while not extreme, are “a little bit edgy. Sometimes the material is appropriate only for mature audiences,” Koenig says.
Garry Posey is also involved in this festival, which runs March 9 and 10 in the Marriott Plaza Ballroom at the Convention Center, as he shepherds the Chattanooga State entry, a riff on Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” called “Twelfth Night: The Eleventh Hour.”
“The second-year students in the Professional Actors program put together an original piece,” Posey says. “We continue the story of ‘Twelfth Night’ … Malvolio is morose at the wedding party, and we see flashbacks to scenes within the play. Students have been part of writing, directing and designing it.”
“We have one-man shows, musicals, plays based on novels and poetry, you name it,” says Koenig. “These pieces are very specific to the artists who bring them in.” Koenig himself is performing this year in “Blessed Assurance,” a play about a man pushing 60 who has issues with his treatment of black people in the past and is trying to come to grips with it.
Other shows in the Fringe include “Sanjie: A Chinese Myth in the Tradition of Shadow Puppet Theatre.” “Forbidden Broadway: Greatest Hits, Volume 1,” “Memoir of a Mythomaniac: The True Story of a Compulsive Liar (or Tallulah Dies),” and Tim Mooney’s “Lot o’ Shakespeare,” which played Barking Legs Theater last year to audience acclaim.
Also of special interest is the entry from Chattanooga’s own Center for the Creative Arts, Jose Cruz Gonzalez’s “Salt and Pepper,” about a young boy who helps his grandfather discover the power of communication.
If you can’t find something to please your artistic palate in this cornucopia of dramatic riches, you are just too damn fussy—and that’s a fact.
Chattanoogans play leading role at SETC
Chattanooga-based theatre artists, teachers and musicians will play a big role during the Southeastern Theatre Conference Convention.
“We are thrilled with the depth of talent and level of commitment that the theatre artists and venues from Chattanooga bring to our event,” said Betsey Baun, executive director of the Southeastern Theatre Conference. “This is our fourth visit to Chattanooga and each time the event grows. We look forward to continued great work with this dynamic community, in which we first held a convention in 1960.”
Chattanooga’s community of artists, educators and community leaders that will be on board include:
• Kicking off opening night Wednesday, March 7, will be the Choo Choo Kids, under the direction of Jason Whitehead.
• Also on Wednesday, Kate Forbes Dallimore from The Muse of Fire Project will present “Techniques for Working with Student Playwrights” as part of the annual Teachers Institute.
• Tenika Dye with the Salvation Army and Recreate Café offers her expertise with a workshop, “Acting with the Homeless: Taking the Art of Play to the Homeless Community,” on Thursday, March 8.
• Rodney Van Valkenburg of Allied Arts, a long-time member of SETC, will be a respondent for the Theatre for Youth Invitational Festival and will also offer a panel workshop on Friday, March 9.
• Also on Friday, musicians Christie Burns and Lisa Ferguson will perform a hammered dulcimer concert for the State’s Lunch.
• Dye and Van Valkenburg collaborate with Brother Ron of Fender Community Kitchen of Chattanooga on Saturday, March 10, offering a workshop titled “Theatre and My Journey Working with the Homeless.”
• Rounding out the convention will be Sweet Georgia Sound, a Chattanooga big band, playing at the annual Gala Awards Banquet and Dance.
• The Chattanooga Theatre Centre will host the Community Theatre Festival, featuring 11 productions from nine southeastern states (March 8-10). This event is open to the public and tickets are available through the Chattanooga Theatre Centre.
• The Tivoli Theatre will host the High School Theatre Festival, involving more than 400 high school students, directors and chaperones and featuring 19 high school productions from 10 southeastern states.
• The local economy will also play a starring role during this dramatic visit. The Chattanooga CVB released an estimated economic impact of $2,197,800 from the conference.
Performances Community Theatre
Ticket blocks ($10 each) are available online: http:// theatre.first-sports.com/ through the Chattanooga Theatre Center. Tickets can also be purchased at the door.
THURSDAY, March 8, 2012
9:00 AM - 10:15 AM
Vortex – The Edge Theatre, SC
Written by Wade Sheeler, directed by James Chrismon
A shaman and a man running from the mob meet on a mountainside in Sedona, Arizona. Through the supernatural and metaphysical, a friendship is formed and lives are changed forever. Profanity and adult themes.
10:15 AM - 11:30 AM
[Title of Show] – Venice Theatre, FL
Music and Lyrics by Jeff Bowen, Book by Hunter Bell, directed by Allan Kollar
A musical about two guys writing a musical... about two guys writing a musical.
7:00 PM - 8:15 PM
God of Carnage – Tupelo Community Theatre, MS
Written by Yasmina Reza, Translated by Christopher Hampton, directed by Tom Booth
The Tony Award-winning comedy of grown-ups behaving badly. Set on a November afternoon in Brooklyn, NY, God of Carnage begins as two highly strung couples meet for a civil discussion about a playground fight between their sons. The conversation quickly morphs into a train wreck! Production contains language that some patrons may find offensive.
8:15 PM - 9:30 PM
For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf – Delta Center Stage, MS
Written by Ntozake Shange, directed by Margaret Carey-McCray
The Obie Award-winning, acclaimed Broadway play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf has excited, inspired, and transformed audiences all over the country. Passionate and fearless, the playwright’s words reveal what it is to be of color and female in the twentieth century. Production contains language that some patrons may find offensive.
FRIDAY, March 9, 2012
1:30 PM - 2:45 PM
Crafty – Auburn Area Community Theatre, AL
Written by Paul Rudnick, directed by Steve Bice
Barbara Ellen Diggs shares her love of crafts with the Junior Chamber of Commerce, and explains how bringing color, beauty, and rick-rack into this world has changed her life. Produced by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc.
2:45 PM - 4:00 PM
Agnes of God – South City Theatre, AL
Written by John Pielmeier, directed by Clifton Keen, Jr.
Summoned to a convent, a court-appointed psychiatrist must assess the sanity of a young novitiate accused of murdering her newborn. Who killed the infant and who fathered the tiny victim? Livingstone's questions force the women to re-examine the meaning of faith and the power of love leading to a dramatic, compelling climax.
8:00 PM - 9:15 PM
All Night Strut! – Theatre Albany, GA
Conceived by Fran Charnas, directed by Mark Costello
A classy, sassy musical celebration of the 1930s and '40s, The All Night Strut! is a two act bonanza of the way things were during the depression, World War II and the post war boom. From the funky jive of Harlem to the sophisticated elegance of El Morocco and the romance of the Stage Door Canteen, this is an evening filled with jazz, blues, bebop and classic songs.
9:15 PM - 10:30 PM
The Last Flapper – Cookeville PAC, TN
Written by William Luce, Directed by Steven Gwilt
Based on letters and stories, a definitive portrait of Mrs. F. Scott Fitzgerald; the glamorous, fun-loving and tragic Zelda. Set in an insane asylum on the last day of Zelda's life, this play unfolds as a hypnotic session.
SATURDAY, March 10, 2012
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Dearly Departed – Artists Collaborative Theatre, KY
Written by David Borrell & Jessie Jones, directed by Cody Anderson & Jason Justice
Possibly the most dysfunctional group of family southern eccentrics gathered below the Mason-Dixon line. When the patriarch of the Turpin family keels over dead, the struggle to get him buried involves the whole clan.
12:15 PM - 1:30 PM
I Am My Own Wife – MT Pockets Theatre, WV
Written by Doug Wright, directed by Robert Wolfe
Based on a true story, and inspired by Interviews conducted by the playwright over several years, I Am My Own Wife tells the fascinating tale of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a real-life German transvestite who managed to survive both the Nazi onslaught and the repressive East German Communist regime.
SETC 9th Annual Fringe Festival
Marriott Plaza Ballroom
SETC gratefully acknowledges the Atlanta Workshop Players for their Festival sponsorship.
Friday, March 9th
Sanjie: A Chinese Myth in the Tradition of Shadow Puppet Theatre
Playwright & Director: Lissa L. Graham
Murray State University, KY
Based upon the ancient Chinese myth of Liu Sanjie, this “devil went down to Georgia” story is told mixing the elements of storytelling, shadow actors and shadow puppets with dance and music.
Twelfth Night, or what you Will
Playwright: William Shakespeare
Director: Garry Lee Posey
Chattanooga State Professional Actor Training Program
As part of a class project, the second year students of the Professional Actor Training Program at Chattanooga State Community College have chosen Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night as their ensemble project. They will edit the story down to the above stated running time while remaining true to the stories intent, they will conceptualize it in such a way that utilizes everyone’s skills as well as calls for the minimalist of props, costumes and scenery. This is a project designed to teach the students how “four-wall” a high quality production on a nonexistent budget.
Lot o’ Shakespeare
Playwright: William Shakespeare (with Timothy Mooney)
Director: Timothy Mooney
Timothy Mooney Repertory Theatre
Timothy Mooney performs a sensual feast of the most delicious soliloquies the English language has ever provided! “Lot o’ Shakespeare,” a dynamic tour de force features one monologue from every Shakespeare play chosen randomly by the spin of a Bingo cage! Prizes are awarded.
Forbidden Broadway – Greatest Hits Volume 1
Playwright: Gerard Alessanddrini
Director: Karen Bail
Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School, FL
Forbidden Broadway is a spoof of famous shows that have played on Broadway.
Saturday, March 10th
Playwright: Steve Willis
Director: Hardy Koenig
North Dakota State U Dept. of Theatre, ND
In his later years, Jerry is feeling guilty for his treatment of North Carolina black people as a young man. This is his story and confession as he strives for closure and forgiveness.
Salt and Pepper
Playwright: Jose Cruz Gonzalez
Director: Magge Hudgins
Center for Creative Arts, TN
This is a play about redemption, family, literacy, friendship and the power of humanity. Salt is a young boy who helps his grandfather discover the power of communication.
Memoir of a Mythomaniac: The True Story of a Compulsive Liar (or Tallulah Dies)
Playwright and Director: Cara Harker
Johnson City, TN
Through a fusion of spoken word and dance, this productions tells the story of Jane, a compulsive liar who prefers to see the world through the eyes of Tallulah, her everything-Jane-is-not alter-ego. But after being fired from yet another job, Jane’s father has convinced her to see a therapist, so she can get back to work and out of his basement. In order to get her life on track, Jane has to confront the real life Tallulah… her mother. Ultimately, Jane must make a choice. Does she go back to the mundane wallflower version of herself, plain Jane, or does she leave her past behind and fully surrender to Tallulah and the fantasy. In the end, her alter-ego dies and Jane decides to thrive.
SETC 2012 High School Theatre Festival Participants & Schedule
March 8-9 at the Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad Street, , TN 37402
Adjudicators: Gai Jones (Theatre Artist, Educator and Director), Keith Martin (Appalachian State U), Michael Peitz (EDTA)
Presider: Amy Hockinson (Alabama Conference of Theatre)
The Drowsy Professor, 10:30AM-11:15AM
Alabama – Bob Jones High School
Written and directed by Dwayne Craft
Wiley and the Hairy Man, 11:30AM-12:15PM
Florida – Palm Harbor University High School
Written by Susan Zeder, Directed by Graham Howard
Georgia – Warner Robins High School
Written by Stephen Schwartz, Directed by Tamara Fisher
Women and War, 1:30PM-2:15PM
Kentucky - Owensboro HS
Written by Jack Hilton Cummingham, Directed by Carolyn Greer
Scenes from Metamorphoses, 2:30PM-3:15PM
Mississippi – Oxford High School
Written by Mary Zimmerman, Directed by John Davenport
Terra Nova, 5:30PM-6:15PM
North Carolina - East Henderson High School
Written by Ted Tally, Directed by Zach Walker
Radium Girls, 6:30PM-7:15PM
South Carolina - Wando High School
Written by D.W. Gregory, Directed by Lori Carroll
You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, 7:30PM-8:15PM
Tennessee - Montgomery Bell Academy
Written by Clark Gesner, Directed by Rick Seay
A Fable, 8:30-9:15PM
Virginia - Stafford High School
Written by Jean-Claude van Itallie, Directed by Michael D’Addario
Androcles and the Lion, 10:30AM-11:15AM
Alabama – Mountain Brook High School
Written by Aurand Harris, Directed by Jesse Tilton
Victorian Silence, 11:30AM-12:15PM
Florida - West Orange High School
Written by K.W. Rush, Directed by Kenneth Rush
Wiley and the Hairy Man, 12:30PM-1:15PM
Georgia - Milton High School
Written by Susan Zeder, Directed by Larry Smith
Paul’s Case, 1:30PM-2:15PM
Kentucky - Corbin High School
Written by Mark Bucci, Directed by Schann Mobley
Mississippi – Oak Grove High School
Written by Edward Mast, Directed by Suzanne Allmon
For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, 5:30-6:15PM
Written by Ntozake Shange, Directed by Larry Robinson
North Carolina - Central Academy of Arts and Technology
The Proposal, 6:30PM-7:15PM
South Carolina - Byrnes High School
Written by Anton Chekhov with translation by Julius West
Directed by Carol Sutton
How I Became a Pirate, 7:30PM-8:15PM
Tennessee - Cordova High School
Written by Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman, Directed by Chris Luter
Anatomy of Gray, 8:30PM-9:15PM
Virginia - Turner Ashby High School
Written by Jim Leonard, Directed by Cecille Deason
You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
West Virginia - Greenbriar East High School
Book, Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa, Directed by Samuel W. Yates
Each year, approximately thirty undergraduate and graduate SETC members participate as Playwrights, Directors, Stage Managers and Actors in writing, rehearsing and performing six Ten-Minute Plays as part of the Ten-Minute Play Festival.
The 2012 Ten Minute Play Festival will begin on Wed., March 7, 2012, with the Actors performing audition monologues.* The Playwrights will then work through the night on 3-character plays inspired by the Actors and the props and costume pieces they brought to share.
On Thurs. morning, the finished scripts will be read by the Directors, each of whom choose one of the scripts and three Actors. They are then joined bby the Stage Managers for day-long rehearsals. The Ten Minute Play Festival culminates in a public performance, followed by a critique session.
Public Performance of all 6 plays will be held Thurs., March 8, 10 PM, followed by critique session.
heatre for Youth Invitational Festival
The Theatre for Youth Invitational Festival strives to highlight, promote and enhance the quality of theatre for young audiences by presenting professional and/or amateur productions that embrace the broadest possible range of genres and styles, and by subsequent adjudication of those productions. The Theatre for Youth Invitational Festival is a non-competitive exhibition of theatre produced for young audiences by companies holding membership in SETC.
Congratulations to the following organizations, who have been selected as the 2012 Theatre for Youth Invitational Festival participants:
Thursday, March 8th, Marriott Plaza Ballroom
Performances are open to the public.
9:00AM - Theatre of Chattanooga presenting La Llorona: Three Tales Gary Lee Posey
In many Latino cultures there exists a story of a crying woman who roams the land looking for children. Some cultures use this story as a means for keeping their kids indoors or away from rivers and streams. Other cultures use the story simply as a fantastical bed-time offering. ETC explores these stories in three short tales. Targeted for grades 4-6.
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10:30AM - University presenting Pied Pipersby Various authors
Troy University's Pied Pipersperform well known children's stories. Created using commedia dell'arte traditions, this set of Pied Pipers' stories feature The Tortoise and the Hare, Sally the Skunk, Uncle Remus' The Tar Baby, and everybody's favorite, The Three Little Pigs. Particularly for ages K-3, the stories delight children of all ages!
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NOON - Whole Backstage Theatre presenting Recessby Keith Jackson
What do you get when you mix a young substitute teacher with a classroom full of the seemingly dumbest pupils found anywhere? A wise-cracking musical that's sure to put a smile on the principal's face, that's what. When Miss Quackenbush takes over a class at the Little Red Schoolhouse, she soon discovers why the previous teacher had a nervous breakdown. This musical is guaranteed to keep your audience at the head of the class!