History told with stories, music

Story published: 11-09-2001 - Johnson City Press

The Jonesborough Repertory Theater, 1251/2 W. Main St., will be telling the stories of the beginnings of Tennessee when it presents Toward the Setting Sun today, Saturday, Thursday, Nov. 16 and Nov. 17 at 8 p.m.

More than 75 people from Jonesborough, Unicoi, Johnson City, Gray, Elizabethton and Hampton have joined to tell stories and perform music in the original storytelling-theater production set in Jonesborough, the longtime gateway to the west during the early days of America’s first frontier.

The play is part of an educational outreach program that will include a curriculum guide for Northeast Tennessee teachers and students, supported in part by a grant from the Harris Fund for Washington County of the East Tennessee Foundation.

Toward the Setting Sun uses storytelling to introduce and close the scenes with featured storytellers such as Bo Deaton, Mattie Mullins, Jodie Harrod, Chris Webb, Saundra Ledford, Adam Dickson, Maria Buchanan and Yvonne Gaskins.

“We all enjoy and admire storytelling, and we are very proud to be telling these stories, because they are stories that matter. Especially with the recent sadness in our country, it is important for us to remember and honor the people who helped begin and fought for our Republic,” said Brian Ponder, JRT president.

Some of the cast members, such as Theresa Phelps, are related to the characters they portray. Phelps is a direct descendant of the legendary Mary Patton, gunpowder maker for the Overmountain Men.

A number of leading Jonesborough citizens are participating, including Dorothy Wood, Ann Johnson, Rose Mottern, Jim Rhein, Sue Henley, Carol Baird, Becky Sims, Sharon Squibb, Hal Knight, Cody Ledford, Walter Buford, Yvonne Gaskins, Tom Pardue, Jack Moore, Jonesborough Public Works Director Jeff Thomas, Director Craig Ford and Maj. Steve Wheat from the town’s Public Safety Department, Town Administrator Robert Browning and Mayor Tobie Bledsoe.

The drama is accented with many traditional Appalachian melodies with soloists Jack Leonard, Don Squibb, Brian Scott, Wenny Creek Elrod, Christopher Jennings, Kim Kennedy, Lise Cutshaw, Brian and Steve Fritts, Alfreda McAfee and Sherri Renfro.

Article courtesy of johnsoncitypress.com