a full-length play, 8 F/6 M
Synopsis: When Mountains Move is the epic tale of Lillie Mae Bostic, told through a Chorus of Coal Miners and a bluegrass band. Due to the unusual circumstances of her birth, her father believes God has given her a Word for her people. The story, set on Black Mountain, Kentucky, follows the decade-long labor struggle of the coal miners for the basic human rights denied them in the 1930s. In the midst of the struggle, Lillie Mae searches for her Word while growing up in the Closplint Church of God, surrounded by women who join the fight for freedom. While the play is fictional, it is inspired by historical accounts of Bloody Harlan in the 1930s, the preacher-miners who secretly helped get UMWA support, and the oral histories of the people who remember the struggle. The play explores how the power of words and a little bit of faith can move mountains.
Images from Production by Lee University Theatre, Feb. 2018, dir. by Christine Williams. Set design: Rebecca Bandy. Light design: Catherine Mantooth. Costume design: Khristina Scoggins. Dramaturg: Heather Helinsky. Cast: Anna Marie Brendel, Erin-Glynn King, Nathan Chamberlain, Emma Riley, Caroline Byrd, Stephanie Wolfe, Scott Rust, Elise Jardine, Brain Ericson, Anna Barge, Luke Benton, Danielle Schumaker, Zac Beatty, Ethan Pierce.
a full-length play, 2 F/3 M/cellist
Synopsis: Nate and Zoe are glaciologists conducting research on the rate of ice flow in a remote outpost on Broadmore Glacier, Alaska. While the ice beneath them moves at unprecedented speed, their marriage is in crisis. Roger, a PR exec from the company who funded their research grant, arrives to get footage of the project. Meanwhile, the trio is being watched by Trapper Max, an old woman with a secret and a penchant for showing up at inopportune times. After Nate falls and breaks his leg, Max “rescues” him… or does she? The Memory of Ice is a wild ride — full of unexpected moments, awkward emotions, and inconvenient changes. It asks—how do we live a life of hope and see beauty in the face of continually changing conditions?
Above: Lee University Writer's Festival, 2015, directed by Lisa Neely. Cast: Kim Jackson, James Williams, Will Jayroe, Christine Williams, and Jared Cole. Cellists: Lisa Phillips and Lacey Thwing.
Photos courtesy of Austin Gunter.
a full-length play, 2 F/2 M/1 dancer
Synopsis: In present day Virginia, Tammy’s routine as a housewife, mother, and Weather Station watcher, are interrupted when her only daughter leaves for college and begins expressing herself in ways that land her in jail. Tammy, and her husband Ed, used to be members in the punk rock movement in New York, before they traded it in for a normal life in suburban Virginia. When Tammy finds out that her former lover, punk rock legend Bobby Foster, dies of a drug-overdose, she struggles to hold onto her normal routine.
Donna Storm, a weather personality, offers Tammy a diversion in the Weather Station, but when it’s not enough anymore to merely watch the weather, Tammy begins creating the storms in her living room. In the end, Tammy must decide to continue living her life vicariously through other people’s experiences or to go outside and face life on her own.
Play Lab Series, Great Plains Theatre Conference, 2012, directed by Becky Key Boesen. Cast: Sasha Dobson, Brad Boesen, Noemi Berkowitz, Tyler Hale, Patrick Lambrecht, and Melissa Lewis. Also pictured: Heather Helinsky (dramaturg), Max Sparber and (panelists). Photos curtesy of Metropolitan Community College and Thomas Grady Photography.
Above: Workshop Production, Lee University Writer's Festival, 2010, directed by Lisa Neely. Cast: Amber Wood, James Williams, Erin Owenby, Christine Williams, Will Jayroe, and LaEsha Williams.
Above: Staged Reading, Third Course: Theatre, 2012, directed by Lisa Neely.
Cast: Caroline Cienki, John Cienki, Jodi Wicker, Leslie Dovale, Trey Sellstrom, Nathan Raley.
a full-length play, 4 F/4 M/1 or more bluegrass instrumentalists
Synopsis: Smokin’ Devils, set in and around Runyon’s Branch, Kentucky, dramatizes three generations of the Runyon clan and the curse that stretches back as far as they can remember. Bryant returns home after twenty years for his mother’s funeral, where he must break the curse by facing the truth about his role in a man’s death and finally deal with the loss of his sister, Anna Mae, after two decades. Smokin' Devils is about forgiveness in a culture of revenge, abuse, generational curses, poverty, and religion. The play uses bluegrass music, water, fabric, and lights to conjure places and events in this mystical play.
Production, Red Clay Theatre, 2006, directed by Lisa Neely.
Cast: Jonathan Robertson, Quintin McCuiston, Tanya Bell, Amber Noel, Tony Lance, James McCuiston, Heather Siegler, & Jenny Ephrussi; with bluegrass band: The Dismembered Tennesseans.
a full-length play, 2 F/3 M
Synopsis: Letters to John Lennon is a two-act play about one woman's fantasies, nightmares, and memories that expose her desperate need to feel worthy of love. On the 25th anniversary of John Lennon's death, Kay plans to go public with her identity as Lennon's illegitimate daughter. She believes this will result in her sudden rise to fame, a new peace movement, and the success of the rock band that has fired her. Several disasters keep her from her goals, the biggest of which is the arrival of Maury, who claims to be her real father. When Maury's claim seems authentic, Kay's fantasies of Lennon are threatened introducing the ominous presence of Mark Chapman, who tries to kill her. In the end, Kay must choose between living in fantasy or reality, or opt for an altogether new kind of reality.
Images to come later.
a 15-minute play, 2 F, 1 M, instrumentalist
Synopsis: Bridgette and Gabriella are conjoined twins, trapped in a very tight, constantly shifting
space. In the midst of this existential crisis, they argue about what's on the other side. This
physical comedy asks big questions about identity and community.
EstroGenius XTended, Manhattan Theatre Source, NYC, 2012, directed by Lisa Neely. Cast: Cassidy Ingle, Caroline Cienki, Quintin McCuiston.
Production, Third Course: Theatre, Austin, TX, 2010. Directed by Lisa Neely. Cast: Cassidy Ingle, Caroline Cienki, Jon Ingle, and Trey Sellstrom.
a 10-minute play, 1 F
Synopsis: Becky, a photographer, recalls an event from 7th grade in which her best friend, Saffron, stops speaking to her. For what she considers a betrayal, Becky plans a vicious retaliation. In this play about perception, Becky examines the past to discover the truth about what she did. Left with more questions than answers, she continues a life of examination by looking through her camera to craft small moments of meaning.
Kim Jackson, Workshop Production at Lee University's Writer's Festival, 2009, directed by Jose Zayas.
a one-act play, 2 F/1 M
Synopsis: In an Alaskan cabin, Erva, acting on a strange impulse, strips her house of the objects from her life, forming a massive pile. In a desperate attempt to find out what madness has overtaken Erva, her daughter Lynn comes home. Lynn discovers that Erva’s infected leg will have to be amputated, the result of a back injury that occurred 30 years ago in a snowmobile accident. The decision about whether or not to have her leg amputated is the cause for familial conflict and an exploration of the past. Erva fights to determine her own fate – a choice denied her by her husband Roman 30 years ago when the accident occurred.
Photos will be added later.
The play received a staged reading at ODU and productions at the Pittsburgh New Works Festival and The Heritage Players in 2006 (directed by Jay Brechenridge).