The spring is going to be filled with drama and music at Tusculum College.
Stage productions “The Midnight Mind of Edgar Allan Poe” and “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper” will performed in the coming weeks and the Pioneer band program and Tusculum College Community Chorus will be performing in April and May.
“The Midnight Mind of Edgar Allan Poe”
“The Midnight Mind of Edgar Allan Poe” will bring some of the classics and lesser known works by the American literary giant to the stage in the Behan Arena Theatre in the lower level of the Annie Hogan Byrd Fine Arts Building (side entrance). Performances will be at 7 p.m. on March 30, March 31 and April 1.
The program will feature dramatic readings of Poe’s works enhanced by music, movement and innovative theatrical techniques. A historical narrative will provide interesting details of Poe’s life and times.
Poe’s works have been in print since 1827, and the versatile writer’s output includes short stories, poetry, a novel, a textbook, a book of scientific theory and hundreds of essays and book reviews. He is widely acknowledged as the inventor of the modern detective story and as an innovator in the science fiction genre. While his reputation today is based primarily on tales of terror and his haunting lyric poetry found in such classics as “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Raven” and “The Fall of the House of Usher,” Poe made his living as a literary critic and theoretician.
The public’s imagination has also been captivated by the character of Poe himself. The legend of Poe, created primarily as a result of a biography written by one of his enemies to defame the author’s name, characterizes the writer as a morbid, mysterious figure lurking in the shadows. The true Poe was a complex man who endured many tragedies in his life while seeking success in the literary world and left one of his biggest mysteries in the nature of his death, which has prompted a score of theories over the years.
The Museums of Tusculum program to explore the works and life of one of America’s greatest writers has been funded through a grant from the Arts Builds Communities fund of the Tennessee Arts Commission administered through the Johnson City Area Arts Council.
Admission is $5 for the general public and $4 for senior citizens. Tickets will be sold at the door only. Area middle and high school students will be admitted free of charge as will Tusculum College students, faculty and staff.
For more information about the program, please call 423-636-8554 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the Museums of Tusculum College, follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
“Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper”
A mystery with a twist, “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper,” will be coming to the stage April 14-17 at Tusculum College.
Revelry Repertory Theatre will premier the original mystery with performances at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 14-Saturday, April 16 and a 2 p.m. matinee, Sunday, April 17. All performances will be in the auditorium of the Annie Hogan Byrd Fine Arts Building on the Tusculum College campus. The play is part of Tusculum College Arts Outreach’s 2010-11 performance and lecture series.
“Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper,” written and directed by respected local actor Doug Presley, explores the notorious, unsolved 19th century serial murders of prostitutes in the White Chapel section of London.
However, audiences should not expect a definite answer to the mystery of the identity of Jack the Ripper as each performance will have a different ending presenting one of four separate possible suspects as the murderer. Presley describes two of the suspects as probable candidates as the murderer and the other two as interesting suspects. Each performance’s ending will be a surprise to all but the stage manager, crew and the actor playing the Jack the Ripper suspect for that evening.
Presley first began to research Jack the Ripper as he was searching for a topic on which to base a scary play to be staged at Halloween. But, the deeper he researched about the murders, Presley said he realized he needed to tell the story of the victims of the crimes and their struggles to survive in the poorest section of London, which was the most prosperous city in the world at the time.
One of the victims was a widow, whose husband had died two years prior to her murder on Christmas Day, and with the low wages in jobs for women, had to resort to prostitution to provide for her family, Presley noted.
Another of the victims, Mary Kelly, was a woman of higher means than the other victims, an artist who was part of a brothel in the prosperous West End of London, Presley said, which prompts the question of what she was doing in White Chapel. An answer to that question is proposed in one of the endings.
In telling the stories of the victims, the play does not lose the edginess and scariness in depicting the vicious murders and the desperation and destitution of life in White Chapel. The play’s characters, some colorful and others unsavory, are expertly brought to life by a talented cast of actors, who include some local favorites including Wess duBrisk, Chris Greene, Seth Holt, Sandy Nienaber, Robbie Poteete, Brian Ricker ’10 and Tom Sizemore. The cast also includes a number of Tusculum College students such as Valerie Harrell, Allison Harris, Andrew Herzig, Josh Hixon, Billie Jennings, Kayla Jones and Jeffrey Peck.
Accentuating the poverty of White Chapel and the gruesome crime scenes are the sets, expertly designed for the play by Frank Mengel, technical director and stage manager of Tusculum College Arts Outreach. The revolving sets also include the insides of the homes of the suspects, providing more clues into the mindset of those who may have been Jack the Ripper.
Period attire for the actors is being provided by Barbara Holt, costume director for Arts Outreach.
The playwright and director also received assistance in keeping the dialogue period-appropriate from one of the cast, Wess duBrisk and his wife, Marilyn, who is artist-in-resident at Tusculum College and director of its Arts Outreach program.
Presley is a veteran of many of the Arts Outreach theatrical programs under duBrisk’s direction and first appeared on stage at age nine in the Annie Hogan Byrd auditorium. “I never dreamed that a play I wrote and directed would be performed on the same stage where I started,” he said.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors (60 years of age and older). With the nature of the story, the violent murder of prostitutes, no children’s tickets will be sold. To reserve tickets, please call 423.798.1620 or e-mail email@example.com.
Pioneer Band Program Performances
The Pioneer Jazz Band will perform publicly for the first on Thursday, April 28, at a Swing Dance Fundraiser that will also feature special guest, vocalist Russ Crum.
Proceeds from the fundraiser will be used to purchase a new sound system for the music program.
The fundraiser will begin at 6 p.m. at the General Morgan Inn with a reception and hors d’oeuvres and a surf and turf dinner following at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $75 for individuals and $140 for couples.
The ticket price includes a Swing and Latin dance lesson taught by Wess and Marilyn duBrisk at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, April 21, in the Behan Arena Theatre on the Tusculum College campus (lower level of Annie Hogan Byrd Fine Arts Building).
RSVP by April 22 by calling 423.636.7303 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
On May 1, a concert will begin by the music program, featuring performances by the Pioneer Jazz Band and the Pioneer Handbell Choir. The concert, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 1:30 p.m.
Tusculum College Community Chorus
The Tusculum College Community Chorus will present its spring concert on Monday, May 2. The performance will be at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Annie Hogan Byrd Fine Arts Building.
The first half of the program will feature works utilizing the organ and showcasing Winfree, who is adjunct professor of music at Tusculum and holds the CAGO degree from the American Guild of Organists. Composers to be featured include Mendelssohn, Brahms, Benjamin Britten, Martin Shaw, and Kenneth Jennings. The program’s second half is secular music ranging from madrigals to show tunes, to folk songs and patriotic music.
Founded in 1996 as a way to involve singers from throughout the community in a broad range of sacred and secular repertoire, the Tusculum College Community Chorus has grown to over 55 singers.