The cast mulls over ‘We Did It Together,’ McKinney’s new play opening Friday – Herald & Tribune
By SERINA MARSHALL
Personal editor [email protected]
A new play will open this weekend in Jonesborough, telling the story of Tennessee’s oldest city from those who know it best.
Local playwright and McKinney Center Outreach Director Jules Corriere found inspiration for his latest play, “We Did it Together,” simply by living in the community.
“I was inspired by so many of the stories we collected. A common theme for so many was about coming together to accomplish something – whether it’s a family, a neighborhood and sometimes, like during the election of Ernest McKinney, Sr., the whole community,” Corriere said.
“The McKinney Center has now trained many story collectors. They and I go out into the community and collect the stories and then they get transcribed, and it’s when I read all the transcripts that I start to see how someone’s story connects to someone’s story else. I am so inspired by the humanity in each person’s story. We all face challenges; it’s something we have in common. And something the people of Jonesborough have in common is how we all come together, regardless of our differences, when the times demand it.
The play is set in the 1950s and 1960s and, according to Corriere, is based on real stories from community members, and is filled with song and dance, original music and lots of heart.
“Our cast is made up of community members from many walks of life and ages, which reflect the many different stories in the play,” she said. “We had a six-week rehearsal period and are now about to open.”
The cast of “We Did it Together” had the opportunity to bring stories to life and share them in a unique and entertaining way. But a lot goes into a play of such historic breadth, according to cast member Beth Herron.
“Preparation revolves around honesty; balance the emotional weight and the factual thrust of the scene, and, against the entirety of the script,” Herron said. “My favorite part of the production was the wonderful microcosm of society needed to reflect the subject matter. Strangers being grafted into the family, to participate in a unified vision.
Herron adds that she wants people to take away “the immense dignity of their own humanity rightly lived in love.”
Doug Gross said his favorite part was watching the game evolve and grow.
“It started as one entity in the form of Jules’ screenplay, drawn from his immense amount of research. Then they added original music, musicians, cast, director, and finally a choreographer,” he said. he said, “At every step, he became so much more than the sum of his parts. Watching him grow was amazing, and to be a part of him is humbling.”
“I hope the public sees how much more there is for their neighbors and friends. I’ve read some of the cast members’ surnames etched on the walls of the McKinney Center, and I never would have thought that I walked around the city rubbing shoulders with those who changed the history of this city. Now I can share the same tune with those who lived it. I hope they really understand in this age of divisions to how “we did it together”.
With such a connection, the actors have formed what Herron considers a special bond.
“To the actors, you have enriched my life just by being yourself. Art imitates life; our art lives from birth!” she says. “Also, it’s always considered an honor to celebrate magic with you, Jules Corriere, Brett McCluskey, Makenzie Emmert, Kevin Iega Jeff and Richard Owen Geer.”
Additionally, Gross offers appreciation to those who have been part of such a carefully crafted storytelling experience.
“There are so many things I would like to say to Jules and the other cast members. And more than that to Richard, our director, and Iega, our choreographer, and Heather our composer. It was eye-opening. been a lot of work, a huge commitment and a privilege,” he said. After presenting such an eye-opening, captivating and historic story, what’s next for Corriere?
“After being selected and winning several film festivals with my last two scripts, I’m working on another short script, which is also derived from the same kind of real-life experiences you see in this new play,” she said. declared. “I think it’s very important to give voice to the real experiences of ordinary people, because they inspire us. When we see their struggles and triumphs, we believe we can overcome our own obstacles, because someone like us did. Our stories connect us to each other through our common humanity. These are the stories I like to write.
“Thank you (to the cast) for the heart you bring to this piece, and for putting yourself in your neighbors’ shoes and bringing their stories to life – making us laugh and caring about each other in a deep way. “
“We Did it Together” opens Friday, June 3 and runs weekends through June 12 at the McKinney Center with evening and matinee performances.
Tickets are $17 for general admission and $13 for seniors and students. Groups of 10 or more enjoy a group rate of $13 each. Tickets available at mckinneycenter.com.