Theatre has great power as a community-building enterprise, and students and faculty from Warren Wilson College are demonstrating that idea.
Professor Jerry Pope and a number of students have created a 30-minute original theatre piece using the words of our river neighbors as they told their stories to WWC students in interviews last fall.
The play, which includes music as well as acting, will have its world premiere April 8, 2 p.m., at the French Broad River for RiverLink. It will then be performed on campus and will tour to various locations in the Valley, bringing the river stories back to the people who shared them as well as their friends and neighbors. The Warren Wilson performance will be April 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the Kittredge Amphitheatre.
Students involved in the play are Elizabeth Black, Karen Budig, Ellen Froliklong, Fern Hoffmann, Kate Lewis, Riley Moore, Ilinca Popescu, and Mike Willey.
Last fall, Theatre Department chair Graham Paul, Pope, and many others embarked upon the Swannanoa River Project, a community-engaged, service-learning coalition of Warren Wilson faculty, Swannanoa Valley community groups and individuals, and the College’s Service Program Office. During the Fall, the project involved upwards of 90 WWC students.
Plans for a new burst of Swannanoa River Project activity are in the works. The Swannanoa RiverPlay will find new life after the summer, as more river stories, more music, and more actors are added. The idea of this kind of community-based theatre, as practiced by Jerry Pope and Rebecca Williams, founding directors of the Swannanoa-based Serpent Child Ensemble, is to create a living piece of theatre that grows and changes over time. Pope and Williams were creators of the popular “Way Back When “ series that ran at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts. “The Swannanoa RiverPlay” is similar to those fondly remembered plays. In this case, the performances will function as events that tie people and communities together as they help Wilson students understand that they, too, are part of the rich Swannanoa Valley story; that the College is part of the valley, the valley is their home, and the people with whom they share the river are their neighbors and friends.
Dates and times for the other performances, all of which are free, are as follows:
Monday, April 9, 6:30 p.m., Warren Wilson Amphitheater
Tuesday, April 10, 6 p.m., Black Mountain Community Garden
Wednesday, April 11, 6 p.m., Black Mountain Library
Thursday, April 12, noon, Black Mountain-Swannanoa Kiwanis
Friday, April 13, 5 p.m., Swannanoa Library.
Saturday, April 14, 2 p.m., Black Mountain Center for the Arts
Call Jerry Pope at 686-3922 for details.