Triad Stage

Posts by Triad Stage

Triad Stage is a North Carolina theater company that produces and performs live, professional theater in the Piedmont Triad region. With local and national talent, a focus on artistic excellence, and a distinctly Southern voice, Triad Stage offers a wide sampling of quality theater, including original works and re-imagined classics. You can see Triad Stage’s work at two world-class performance venues in the state: The Pyrle Theater in Greensboro and Hanesbrands Theatre in Winston-Salem.

Announcing our 2018-2019 Season!

And then it started to snow.

This is how the Monday morning the day before our Season Announcement began. As we were busy painting the stage floor, adjusting lights, and rehearing, outside it looked more like the depths of winter rather than the early blush of spring (never mind the daffodils, now surely dead).

But then Tuesday morning dawned, the black ice thawed, and the technology cooperated. At 7 p.m. we opened our doors and welcomed a crowd of friends and supporters for one of our most exciting nights of the year.

Then we pulled the curtain back and revealed our upcoming 2018-2019 Season.

The magic of the night can’t be conveyed in words, but if you missed it, you missed a good show.

But without further ado, we give you our 18th Season…

 

The Lineup

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AND THEN THERE WERE NONE
By Agatha Christie
Sept. 9 – 30, 2018 | Pyrle Theater, Greensboro

Solve the mystery before time runs out. Ten strangers trapped on a dangerous island each have a secret.  One by one, they begin to die.  Match your wits against the master of suspense to catch the killer before there are none.

From the Artistic Director:

I love a mystery.  The thrill of the unknown puts an audience on the edge of their seats.  The real world slips away as the puzzle takes over and soon we’ve even forgotten we’re in a theater. The terrifying chills of a great whodunit send shivers up our spine and makes us wonder who’s sitting beside us. Nobody thrills us better than Agatha Christie and this play—based on the most popular mystery novel of all time— is the Rolls Royce of suspense.  Enjoy the ride…if you dare.

 

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
By William Shakespeare
Oct. 28 – Nov. 18, 2018 | Pyrle Theater, Greensboro

Fall in love all over again. But watch your step. Deep in a wondrous forest, mixed up humans and mischievous creatures turn the world upside down. Let your heart delight in this magical romance.

From the Artistic Director:

Midsummer is far more than a simple love story.  In the forest where love comes undone lurks a magical world that is both delightful and dark.  Like all great comedies, Shakespeare’s play reminds us that truth is at the heart of all laughter and that the everyday is never far away from the magical.  So meet me by moonlight and see what fools we mortals be.

 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL
By Charles Dickens
Nov. 23 – Dec. 24, 2018 | Hanesbrands Theatre, Winston-Salem

Celebrate the season.   Scrooge and the Spirits are headed back for a holiday ghost story of hope and redemption. One night changes everything as the shadows of his past give Ebenezer one last chance for a future.  Thrill to the chills and give in to the joy of A Christmas Carol.

From the Artistic Director:

Dicken’s story is perhaps my favorite book.  Its promise of a second chance, a life re-discovered and its constant urging to take care of each other inspires us to be our better selves.  All of us at Triad Stage approach each year’s production with childlike joy, eager to re-discover the magic and promise that lies just beyond the dark night of fear that Scrooge must survive.  Our home in Winston-Salem provides the perfect space to share our Carol – the Triad’s newest holiday tradition.

 

WHITE LIGHTNING
By Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder
Jan. 27 – Feb. 17, 2019 | Pyrle Theater, Greensboro

Race down red dirt roads through an Alabama night of fast cars and moonshine.  A young veteran with a checkered past and ’39 Ford makes a name for himself outrunning the law.  But love and NASCAR show him another road.  Strap in, put the pedal to metal and head straight into adventure and romance.

From the Artistic Director:

My first car only had an AM radio and the country music sometimes gave way to a NASCAR race.  I loved when my rides were filled with exploits of some of the greatest drivers in history.  Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Richard Childress thrilled me with their driving and daring.  NASCAR, with its roots in moonshine running, is so much a part of our region and telling its story is a real representation of A Southern Voice, one of our core values, brought to life on stage.

 

TWO TRAINS RUNNING
By August Wilson
Mar. 10 – 31, 2019 | Pyrle Theater, Greensboro

Stand up for what’s right and experience the genius of August Wilson.  It’s 1969 in the Hill District of Pittsburgh.   The city plans big for what they call urban renewal but Memphis Lee’s diner stands in the way.   He and his customers fight for survival on the precipice of enormous change.  Discover what really matters in this slice of life masterpiece that dig deeps into the heart of the American Dream.

From the Artistic Director:

August Wilson (Fences, Triad Stage 2016) is hands down one of the greatest writers our country has produced.  When I first saw Lloyd Richard’s acclaimed Broadway production of Two Trains Running, I remember being shattered by the power of the funny and harrowing story of the amazing people I had met that evening at Memphis Lee’s diner.  This remains my favorite of Wilson’s plays and I know it will shake you to your core.  We are thrilled this production is part of UNCG’s year-long event series “The 60s:  Exploring the Limits”.

 

MAN OF LA MANCHA
Written by Dale Wasserman | Music by Mitch Leigh | Lyrics by Joe Darion
April 28 – May 26, 2019 | Pyrle Theater, Greensboro

Hear the wild winds of fortune.  Your destiny calls and adventure awaits.  A poet, thrown into prison, fears the Inquisitor, but the inmates demand their own kind of justice.  The poet begins to tell a story of a mad Knight determined to achieve his impossible dreams. Join the quest and reach the unreachable star.

From the Artistic Director:

As a kid, my parents took me to The Parkway Playhouse to see Dixie Carter play Aldonza.  I spent my life savings on the cast album at Record Bar and soon knew every lyric from start to finish. As I’ve grown older, my love for this musical has only deepened.  Its meta-theatricality seems as revolutionary now as when it took Broadway by storm.  Its call to change the world no matter what still rings true and producing it at Triad Stage is a long held dream.


 

The Dark Side of Passion: Three NC True Crime Tales

Rehearsals are underway for our upcoming World Premiere thriller The Passion of Teresa Rae King (April 29 – May 20, 2018), and we’re run across some interesting true crime stories from our own state during our research for the show that we thought we’d share to help set the mood! Our marketing intern Caroline put together this collection of stories of passions that ran cold – and deadly.


Carthage Nursing Home

In March of 2009, 45-year-old Robert Stewart entered a nursing home in Carthage, North Carolina with the intention of murdering his wife, who was employed there. His wife had left him two weeks earlier.

Upon reaching the nursing home, Stewart shot at his wife’s parked car several times. After this, he shot at a moving car of a visitor pulling up to the home, hitting the driver in the shoulder. The wounded driver was able to get inside and warn some residents of the approaching attacker.

After entering the facility, Stewart went searching for his wife. He shot and killed seven residents on his rampage, including two who were wheelchair-bound. He also shot a nurse who worked in the facility who attempted to stop him from attacking any further.

Stewart was apprehended by Police Officer Justin Garner, whom he shot in the leg before Garner was able to land a shot at Stewart’s chest, taking him down.

Stewart lived through the attack, and was convicted of eight counts of second degree murder, one count of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, one count of discharging a firearm into occupied property, one count of assault with a firearm on a law enforcement officer, and two counts of assault by pointing a gun. This was enough for him to be convicted of 141-179 years in prison, which he began serving in 2011 after his trial and sentencing.

Wanda Neal, the wife that Robert Stewart went hunting for that fateful March morning, remarked upon leaving the courthouse after his sentencing that she hopes Stewart “rots in hell”.

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(photo credit: CBS News)


Valentine’s Day Murders

On February 12th, 1971, a couple by the names of Patricia Mann and Jesse McBane headed to a Valentine’s dance in Durham. After the dance, Patricia signed out of her college dormitory saying she would be back before the 1:00 A.M. curfew. However, she never returned.

The next morning, Patricia’s worried roommates went looking for her. They found Jesse’s car parked Hillandale Golf Course, where many young lovers liked to go “parking”. The car was locked, but there was no sight of Jesse or Pat. They called the police, but the police weren’t thrilled to go looking for two young people who were only missing a few hours. The parents of the couple were notified that they were missing, and that was the last they heard for several days.

On February 25th, nearly two weeks after the couple was last seen,  a surveyor working in the woods found the bodies of two young adults, tied with their backs to a tree. They were bound at the hands and around their necks. Based on post-mortem marks, investigators believe that the ropes around their necks were loosened and tightened at intervals until they eventually expired.

Several suspects were interviewed and polygraphed, but there was little physical evidence to go on, and no witnesses. Police had two lead suspects in the 1970s, and one of them is still alive today. However, more than forty years later, there has never been enough evidence for a prosecution, and the killer of Patricia Mann and Jesse McBane remains at large, and will likely remain that way.

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(photo credit: The News and Observer)


Frankie Silver

The story of Frances Stewart Silver has many twists and turns, some of which inspired a play, a book, a movie, and an episode of Investigation Discovery.

In December of 1831, nineteen-year-old Charles “Johnny” Silver was murdered with an axe, and later dismembered, at his cabin in Morganton. Three persons were arrested for the grisly murder: Johnny’s eighteen-year-old wife Frances “Frankie” Silver, Frankie’s mother Barbara Stewart, and Frankie’s brother Jackson “Blackstone” Stewart. Both her mother and brother pled not guilty and were released, but Frankie refused to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty, and went on to stand trial alone.

There is no clear reason as to why Frankie murdered her husband in the same cabin that their 13-month-old daughter lived with them. Speculation ranged from infidelity to abusive, or and some thought Johnny had threatened her or her child physically and that the murder was in self defense. Inside of the cabin were pieces of bone, blood splatters along the walls and floor, as well as fireplace contents that led investigators to believe that Frankie had attempted to burn her husband’s remains to cover up the crime. Frankie was found guilty and sentenced to hang for the murder of her husband, but then things start to get interesting once again.

Between her sentencing and her hanging, Frankie was broken out of prison by her own family. They cut her hair short, dressed her as a man, and attempted to smuggle her out of town. They were caught, however, and she was taken back into custody to face her death sentence.

Frankie was hanged on July 12th, 1833. She is believed to be the first white woman to ever be put to death in North Carolina, and the only woman ever hanged in Burke County.

Despite misreportings in some location newspapers at the time, Frankie never confessed to the crime or discussed any motive she may have had. It is said that when she was asked for her last words before hanging, her father shouted “Die with it in you, Frankie!”, which adds to the theory that her family assisted in the murder or attempted cleanup of Johnny Silver.

Wayne Silver, a descendant of the victim, holds that he as well as much of his family believes that Frankie acted in self defense, and that this was not a premeditated act nor an act of random violence.

Nancy Silver, the 13-month-old daughter of the victim and the accused, was taken by Frankie’s parents and raised in Elijay, North Carolina. A book has been written about her life from 1832-1901, entitled “A Life for Nancy: Daughter of Frankie Silver” that chronicles the way that the tragic events before Christmas of 1833 affected Frankie and Johnny’s little girl.

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(photo credit: Historic Horrors)

The following confession was run by The Lenoir Topic several months after the hanging:
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(photo courtesy of ncpedia.com)


If these stories have tickled your true crime fancy, then join us for our April Book Club meeting when we discuss Jerry Bledsoe’s Bitter Blood: A True Story of Southern Family Pride, Madness, and Multiple Murder, on Tuesday, April 17, 6:00 p.m. at Scuppernong Books! The book recounts an infamous killing spree with Guilford County at its heart. Join us!

Find more details on the Facebook event page.

And don’t forget to get your tickets to The Passion of Teresa Rae King!
http://triadstage.org/performance/249/the-passion-of-teresa-rae-king

Ghosts of the Triad

In honor of our upcoming production of our vicious and haunting World Premiere The Passion of Teresa Rae King (April 29 – May 20, 2018), we’ll be sharing some of our favorite ghost stories and true crime tales from across the Triad. Our marketing intern Caroline put together this collection of chillers for our first installment!


Lydia’s Bridge

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(photo credit: Strange Carolinas)

An abandoned bridge in Jamestown, North Carolina is said to be the home to the ghost of a young woman named Lydia. This particular bridge is no longer part of the roadway, but is just out of sight of the road. The story goes that Lydia was a young woman in the 1920s, heading home from a dance with her date. Her date tragically crashed the car, dying on impact. Lydia, injured, waited by the roadside for someone to come along, but no one did and she died right there. Rumor says that if a man alone in the car drives under the bridge, a young woman in white will wave him down and ask for a ride home. If he obliges, he will find that when he reaches her destination, he is alone in the car.

The real “Lydia” is in fact a woman named Annie L. Jackson, who was in a car with three others on the night of June 20th, 1920. The car crashed right by the bridge, and she was thrown from the vehicle and died upon hitting her head. The ghost sightings began soon afterward.
Annie L. Jackson was found to be the real person behind the Lydia legend late last year, when ghost hunter Michael Renegar was contacted by a woman named Robin Mitchell Taylor, the great niece of “Lydia”. They hope that now that her true story has been published, her spirit can be at rest.

Körner’s Folly

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(photo credit: www.kornersfolly.org)

Körner’s Folly, located on Main Street in Kernersville, North Carolina was once the home to Jule Körner, a furniture maker. When he started building the peculiar house in 1878, he planned to make it a sort of three dimensional portfolio of his work. The 22 rooms display different ceiling heights, not a single matching doorway, and windows designed to maximize airflow. He renovated the house constantly until his death, which leads us into the supernatural factors behind Jule Körner’s abode. Many visitors of the house have witnessed moving furniture, flickering lights, voices, and two even claimed to have received three brief taps on the head. Have no fear, however, because experts say that the spirits are friendly! Many even speculate that Jule Körner himself is culprit, keeping the guests in his home entertained just as he did while he was alive.

The good news about Körner’s Folly is that you can go there too! For just $10 for adults, take a self-guided tour through one of the most peculiar houses in America. And maybe if you’re lucky, Jule will pay you a visit!

The Biltmore Hotel

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(photo credit: Greensboro Daily Photo)

Just around the corner from our beloved Triad Stage, the Biltmore Greensboro Hotel sits pretty at 111 W. Washington Street. The building did not begin as a hotel, but as an office space for denim manufacturers the Cone Brothers, the namesake for the Cone Denim Factory downtown, and later for the Cone Health Medical System. As the story goes, an accountant named Philip who worked for the Cone Brothers was found in the alley next to the building one morning with a piece of piano wire wrapped around his neck. The wire had been cut from the piano in the lobby, and then Philip had been pushed out the window that is now attached to room 332 of the hotel.

Some say that Philip committed suicide, but another popular theory is that he had found out about something he shouldn’t have known and was “taken care of.” People now say that they can hear his footsteps, as well as loud noises coming from room 332. Guests who stayed in Philip’s room have also reported seeing him standing next to the window through which he was thrown.

Philip’s is not the only ghost story in the historic Biltmore Greensboro Hotel. The Cone Brothers sold the building in 1926, and in 1929 the city of Greensboro lists it as an annex to the post office, creating the new address of 111 ½ W. Washington Street. This address was purchased by a lady by the name of Mrs. Ava B. Taylor, who turned it into an apartment and boarding establishment. She took over the rest of the building in 1934, and it was rumored that she was running a brothel, since her tenants were exclusively women. They say that the young woman by the name of Lydia (no relation to Jamestown Lydia) who lived in room 223 was thrown to her death by one of her clients. They say that if you are to stay in her room, you should be respectful and bring her something pink. Women who stay in the room find their purses tipped over and anything pink separated from the rest of their items, and the hotel staff has ensured that there are pink items hidden throughout the room to keep her happy. Staff even say that the door to her room is the only one that will not remain open, no matter what they do.

A young boy staying in room 223 back in 2010 reported seeing a pretty woman with long, red hair. Housekeeping has also reported finding strands of long red hair in the sink of room 223 before, as if someone was standing in the bathroom brushing her hair. The boy is currently the only person to have ever reported seeing Lydia, but many hotel guests have reported smelling a strong floral perfume when walking down the hallway by her room.


If those stories didn’t have you shaking, then join us for a free evening of live Ghost Stories on Friday, April 13, 7:30 p.m. at Triad Stage! Bring a flashlight, bring a buddy, and prepare to be scared! You can listen to our storytellers, or tell a ghost story of your own – if you dare!

Find more details on the Facebook event page.

And don’t forget to get your tickets to The Passion of Teresa Rae King!
http://triadstage.org/performance/249/the-passion-of-teresa-rae-king

Behind the Scenes: An Intern’s Perspective

The audience shuffles in through the glass doors in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina. The ushers smile warmly as they attempt to guide the crowd to their seats, anxious to see the show. The theater is buzzing with excitement as the lights dim. Actors file onstage in the darkness to their places, recalling the hours of rehearsals and preparation that have brought them to this moment. The stage manager holds their breath as they await the perfect moment to call the first lighting cue. Countless hands, minds, and hearts have worked tirelessly to make this exact moment happen. But how exactly did we arrive here at opening night? What all has to happen to put on a production at a professional theater such as Triad Stage? Here’s a backstage look at the process that puts shows on their feet from the perspective of an intern.

 For the past month, I’ve had the privilege of being the multi-purpose intern at Triad Stage. I participate in a different department of the theater every day, from learning about the financial procedures of the company, to observing educational workshops, to helping out with alterations in the costume shop. Every member of the Triad Stage team gives 110% to whatever they do. It is almost immediately evident to anyone who observes them is that they act as a family in communion with one another. The tireless work that goes on behind the scenes to make their shows happen is incredible.

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In the costume shop for the past month, I’ve observed designers, assistants, and apprentices working side-by-side to create masterpieces from fabric. The journey of the costumes begins with countless hours of research. For period productions, such as the upcoming A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, which is set in the 1950s (and runs at Triad Stage January 28th-February 18th), costume designers research the popular styles of the time through online resources and even vintage magazines from the appropriate time period. The actors send in their measurements, and then the design process begins. At the first rehearsal that both the entire creative team and the cast attend, the costume designer, as well as the scenic and lighting designers, presents sketches of their proposed costumes. I was able to witness this meeting, and was blown away by the details of each design.

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 Actor costume fittings begin immediately following the first rehearsal. After those, alterations pile up. The designer, the shop manager, and the apprentices work with the actor to make a costume that enhances their character and does not restrict them in any way. Some costumes are made from scratch, like the African “Buba”, a woman’s blouse, that appears in A Raisin in the Sun. Others are pulled from the shop’s stock and altered to fit the actors. Still others, like some of the dapper men’s period shoes, are ordered online. Often, the theater is working on multiple shoes at once, meaning every department, including costumes, is juggling enormous amounts of work for many shows at once. Each show is able to flow seamlessly to the next.

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There are always alterations to be done!

 

 

Rehearsals are equally as interesting to observe. As I observed one of A Raisin in the Sun’s rehearsals, I witnessed an incredible partnership between actor and director. The goal of theater is to tell stories in the most compelling way possible. To tell truthful stories, actors must know everything about their character, top to bottom. The director works right alongside them, guiding them along the story’s line. Triad Stage prioritizes working with many different directors, actors, and designers. Each work is always new and original, regardless of its age or number of production.

     The rehearsal I observed focused on  a scene in the household of the Younger family, the play’s central characters. Some of these actors had never met each other in their entire lives before the rehearsal process began, and yet they were able to create what seemed to be a family that had lived together for decades. The relationships created in only the first week of rehearsals was incredible.

The everyday running of the theater not only includes the current show, but also educational outreach to the community. Offering workshops to local teachers, Triad Stage hopes to integrate the arts with academic learning in schools. In one such workshop that I attended, teachers were led in a series of theater games that were geared toward building skills necessary for academic learning. We played games like ‘The Truth About Me” in which one person stands in the middle of a circle of people. That person says something about themselves, and if that truth applies to anyone else, they all move about the circle. This game is meant to enhance learning skills such as effective communication, information processing, and making decisions. I believe this movement toward fusing the arts and academics is vital to childhood development.

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   The Arts Integration Workshop I attended led by Lauren Smith, Triad Stage’s Learning Director.

 

 

 

 

Triad Stage picks their shows with the audience in mind. Each show of the season is selected with care based on what shows could be appreciated in the community. For example, A Raisin in the Sun is a play about race relations, but also the complexities of family. The show is a gateway for communication about racial discrimination and family relationships.

Audience members come to see the culmination of the long hours of work in a performance. Many sit comfortably in their seats, blissfully unaware of the tireless toil of every single member of the production’s cast and crew. This is exactly as it should be. The actors, gliding around the stage in the paths they’ve walked dozens of times in rehearsals, play characters that exist to lift the audience’s spirit out of their own lives into the story of another. Triad Stage creates an atmosphere of “nationally recognized, locally produced” theater that allows anyone to enjoy the spirit of theater.

Meredith Brown, Intern at Triad Stage

Come see A Raisin in the Sun at the Pyrle Theater in Greensboro January 28th – February 18th!

Beautiful Star Director’s Note

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One of the first things I learned about working in the professional regional theater is that Christmas comes early. While everyone else is still thinking about what to wear for Halloween, I’ve spent most of the last 15 Octobers of my life either in Victorian England with some guy named Scrooge, at Macy’s dressed up as an elf, searching a magical land for The Snow Queen or with the fine folks at a small Church in a fictional town someplace in the mountains I am proud to call home.

I have been fascinated by the English Mystery Cycles since I first discovered them in 1995. My first attempt to adapt them for the Appalachian region was in a play called Wondrous Love. It was long and unwieldy, and after the first and only reading of the play, I thought I was through with the Mystery Cycle.

But the Mystery Plays, full of faith and majesty, have stayed with me. The language, rich with alliteration and surprisingly real, has shaped all my subsequent writing. But I knew I wanted to do more with them than simply restage them. I had to find a way to make the plays my own with a framework allowing us to know the people doing the plays. The church and the congregation I imagined was a fantasy of sorts. It was the church I would like to stumble into on a winter’s evening. A spirit filled place, where everyone, wounded somehow, can be healed. And where everyone is accepted, believer or not, into a family. It gives me great joy to stumble into that church again, to find my old friends waiting, as joyous as ever with stories to tell.

Throughout the writing of the play, I thought a lot about my Aunt Shirley who decided in the mid-nineties that she would write and stage her own Christmas play in her basement. The cast was comprised of my family (all but me making their stage debut) and a few folks from her church. It was a three-year experiment in theatrical folk art. Every minute was crafted by Aunt Shirley with absolute love for the story she had to tell. And every year, there came a moment when the play transcended the basement of that 60s ranch house to become something bigger −something made out of faith. I imagine that moment happened sometimes, too, as the pageant wagons rolled through streets of medieval York and the fishmongers and shipwrights and carpenters performed their plays to celebrate their spirit. And it’s that moment I’ve come searching for again in this blending of Bible stories, medieval plays and contemporary Appalachia.

We’re thrilled to invite you back to the Open Heart Fellowship.
Welcome home.

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WWII Comes to the Cast of South Pacific

Lieutenant Colonel Franklin B. Montgomery had the glint in his 94-year-old eyes of his much younger self. Frank was in fact channeling his 18-year-old self, describing how his life and the lives of all Americans changed after Pearl Harbor.

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“It exploded my family,” said Frank. “High Point, my hometown. North Carolina. Our nation. The world.”

Frank was standing in front of a packed room, speaking to a rapt audience – the 30 cast members and assorted creative team and staff of our production of SOUTH PACIFIC. Frank was invited to speak to them because he’s a bit of an expert in this area. He served in the South Pacific during WWII.

But that’s telling the story in the wrong order. Frank graduated from High Point High School in 1944 and enrolled in NC State with the intention of studying engineering and continuing to run track. He’d been a track star in high school. He had a promising future. And then war reared its ugly head, and like so many young Americans Frank pivoted to meet it.

In early 1942 Frank dropped out of college and volunteered for the Army Air Corps.

“I choose the Air Corps because it seemed exciting,” Frank said. “Just 20 years before I was born the Wright Brothers flew the first plane off the coast of North Carolina.” He described himself as “not militaristic, most of us weren’t”, but rather driven by a sense of duty and the thrill of new experiences.

He got on a bus in High Point with seven other people, but they all went their separate ways. [Check out this News & Record article for more of Frank’s history and to hear how he met up with one of those same young men he left with, so many years later.]

Frank graduated flight school in 1944 and shipped out. Eighty percent of the personnel and equipment in WWII went to Europe, but Frank went to the South Pacific. Not his choice.

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“I knew how to fly an airplane, but that’s about all I knew,” said Frank of his younger self. Prior to leaving for the war, the furthest he’d been from home was Myrtle Beach. He wound up on Oahu flying a P51. He’d sometimes be in the air for 7 hours a stretch with only the most rudimentary navigation instruments. The enemy was not the only threat.

“Watching that fuel gauge go own and down, you begin to wonder if you’ll make it back.”

He described the state of endless waiting that the characters of SOUTH PACIFIC are engaged in – waiting for orders, for battle, for news from home. Frank spent more than an hour sharing his candid memories and answering questions from the cast – large and small.

“How long would it take to get an answer when you wrote letters?” asked one cast member.

“Forever,” said Frank. “Weeks. Or never.”

Frank returned home in early 1946. He later went back to Southeast Asia to serve in Korea and Vietnam. He spent time living in Okinawa with his wife and sons. His experiences living and fighting in the South Pacific didn’t leave him bitter towards the people there.

“No Japanese person ever hit me or short changed me. I’d shoot down their planes and boats but I couldn’t sit there and say I hated them. But a friend of mine just hated them from his guts. Explain that.”

It’s hard to fathom Frank hating anyone. He’s just about the most congenial person you can imagine. But that difference of feeling is at the heart of South Pacific, and our production is better because Lieutenant Colonel Franklin B. Montgomery shared his experiences with our cast during the rehearsal process and helped bring the characters to life by filling out the world they inhabit.

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*If you happened to notice Frank wearing three hats, you are not mistaken. Frank likes his hats.

We are proud to be honoring Lieutenant Colonel Franklin B. Montgomery as part of Triad Salutes at the Opening Night performance of South Pacific on Friday, September 22. 

Summer at The Shop

For every Triad Stage production, there’s a story behind the spectacle. Whether it’s the set design, props, or costumes, no detail is left unaccounted for. At the Triad Stage production facility in Greensboro, there is a constant frenzy of creativity, planning, and construction that takes place to make sure that every show brings magic to the stage.

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This off-site location is home to our set design and construction team, prop storage and rental facility, as well as our costume shop. The facility houses offices for staff, as well as storage, sewing spaces, and work rooms for large construction projects.

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During the summer, life at the production facility slows down just a bit as staff take a moment to reflect and regroup after a busy season. Often, this time is used to effectively organize the space before the whirlwind of show production begins again. In storage rooms, items are strategically grouped for simple management. Every item has its place; from chairs, to chests, to checkered prints.

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But none of these things are just laying around getting dusty. The production facility also operates as a rental company, and anything your theater heart desires can be borrowed. Triad Stage additionally supports local universities such as UNCG with collaborative rental partnerships with academic theater departments. This system ensures that many of the props and set designs from old Triad Stage productions continue to have a life after the show.

As we head towards the start of the 17th season, things are falling into place for the set of our first production of the season, South Pacific. On a visit to the facility, I got a sneak peek at some of the first projects that our set design team is working on to bring the World War II era to life. Speakers are being repurposed to imitate old radios, collections of army personnel items are stacking up, and miniature models exemplify the future directions for Bloody Mary’s mobile street shop.

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The costume department is also well on its way towards getting ready for the show. Upstairs, racks of uniforms are being prepped for fittings this month. To develop the design of each character costume, the team has relied heavily on historical readings and personal photos from a Colorado based woman who served as a nurse in the South Pacific during World War II. The details of every garment are designed to be as historically accurate as possible.  Each costume has been slowly acquired piece by piece over the course of the summer, and continues to be finalized as the last shipments of vintage tops and sturdy boots arrive to the door. On a dress form, the final look for South Pacific’s female lead character Nelly is almost ready to go.

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Be sure not to miss all of the hard work paying off this fall. Catch South Pacific at The Pyrle theater in Greensboro September 17 – October 15! Visit the Triad Stage website or call our Box Office at 336-272-0160 to reserve your tickets today.

Reflections on the NCTC Producing Gathering

As my time at the NCTC Producing Gathering comes to an end, I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to attend this conference. With session topics ranging from marketing strategies, to assessing the realities of diversity and inclusion in theater arts, there was no shortage of great ideas. As an undergraduate student, I came to the NCTC Producing Gathering with the expectation that I would learn more about the theater profession, and the type of work it takes to make art a reality. But more than that, over the past two days I have also learned a great deal about myself as a young professional, and what action steps I can be taking now both within the arts world and beyond.

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One of the highlights of Ben Cameron’s opening address was his remark that an organization’s core values are more important than the mission statement. This idea inspired the discussion of the first session that I attended, “Prioritizing Values Over Mission”. The major takeaway for me during this conversation was that while the mission statement might define what you do, it should not be the single guiding force of an organization’s work. In truth, it is the core values that spark people’s passion and motivation towards the work that needs to be done. Core values show who you are, why you care, and determine what needs to be done. For me, this concept is true for both my professional and personal life. It’s not just what you do; it’s how, and why.

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Moving into the second day of the Producing Gathering, there was a lot of focus on community. In a morning session, “Assessing Where We Are Now: Diversity & Inclusion”, participants shared personal stories from past successes and shortcomings of bridging various sociocultural divides in our communities. While ultimately there were many ideas on how to attract audiences, diversify casting, and create accessible productions, it was realized that the first and arguably most important step we all need to be making towards these professional goals is in our personal lives. It is impossible to authentically and effectively meet articulated goals of inclusivity unless we make the effort to personally build relationships and engage in communities beyond those that we comfortably interact with in our everyday lives. This session really inspired me to break out of my daily routines, and actively seek activities that allow me to build relationships across cultural boundaries.

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Overall, my experience at the NCTC Producing Gathering was incredibly worthwhile. I made connections with theater and arts professionals from all over the state, learned more about my field, and gained valuable insights on my role as a young professional in the arts. Many thanks to Triad Stage and the NCTC staff for making this opportunity possible!

 

– Alyx Bean, Triad Stage Summer 2017 Opportunity Greensboro Fellow

 

NCTC Producing Gathering: Day 2

The second and final day of the North Carolina Theatre Conference Producing Gathering at Triad Stage has ended, but the buzzy excitement of new ideas and new relationships is going to be buoying the work theater companies across the state in the weeks to come.

We jumped straight into workshop sessions, with early sessions on marketing, building great staffs, and weathering change. Participants in conference block two tackled board engagement, diversity and inclusion check-in, and bridging the urban/rural divide.

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Trickling into The Pyrle Theater this morning.

Digging deep to solve the problems of our time. #nbd

Digging deep to solve the problems of our time. #nbd

NCTC arranged a second excursion to the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, and an excursion to Elsewhere, a living museum and artist residency housed in a former thrift shop on Elm St. As always a huge shout out to ICRCM, frequent collaborators and longtime partners, for hosting us. The Elsewhere tour was a first for many, including members of the Triad Stage staff, and was an inspiring experience for those who attended.

Thanks Guido for leading such an excellent tour!

Thanks Guido for leading such an excellent tour!

Triad Stage Associate Artistic Director Sarah Hankins on her first Elsewhere tour.

Triad Stage Associate Artistic Director Sarah Hankins on her first Elsewhere tour.

Look at all those inspired smiles!

Look at all those inspired smiles!

And what is a good conference without closing remarks that lay out where the group has been and where we’re all headed in the next year? Vivienne Benesch, the new(ish) Producing Artistic Director of Playmakers Repertory Company, gracefully rose to the occasion.

A self-avowed quoter, Vivienne had some of her own beautiful reflections and pearls of wisdom to share. Growing up in London and New York, Vivienne had this to say about her first year and a half in NC: “I have never encountered the kind of pride North Carolinians have for their home and what is possible here.”

At a conference where authenticity was a recurring theme in sessions, Vivienne reminded us all that these conversations “are better when you’re not talking to yourself.” In dialogue with each other, and with our communities, we endeavor to celebrate our successes and improve on our shortcomings in the year ahead.

We’re still processing some of the big questions and ideas from the conference, but as part of that process, we’re going to be putting together some of the best and most inspiring nuggets uncovered during those conversations with all of you later on this week. Stay tuned!

One of the best least-noticed pieces of art at Elsewhere - inspiring words for artists of all kinds, visible from Freeman Mill Rd.

One of the best least-noticed pieces of art at Elsewhere – inspiring words for artists of all kinds, visible from Freeman Mill Rd.

Photos and content from Opportunity Greensboro Fellow Alyx Bean and Marketing Manager Tiffany Albright. 

NCTC Producing Gathering: Day 1

Triad Stage and the North Carolina Theatre Conference are pretty tight – which maybe isn’t surprising, considering NCTC’s state headquarters are embedded in our administrative offices on Elm St. in downtown Greensboro. But we are thrilled every time we get to welcome the entire NC theater community to Greensboro for the annual NCTC Producing Gathering. This year’s two-day conference (July 17 & 18, 2017) is our fifth time hosting the gathering of almost 100 theater practitioners, from companies of all sizes to board members, independent producers, educators, and volunteers from all over the state.

Coffee before deep thought, please.

Coffee before deep thought, please.

This year we kicked off in The Pyrle Theater with an opening keynote from Ben Cameron, a titan thought leader in the arts world and a native of the Triad. He shared ten meditations on theater in NC and the way forward. His “Zen Ben” presentation seemed to key up the audience more than calm the fears, which is exactly what you want at the start of your conference. Big takeaways: Change is already here, and theaters that can’t adapt are in trouble. Also, we could all stand to take a hard look at our values and how we’re reflecting them in our work and our wider actions in the community (more on that late this week in our reflection post).

Photo courtesy of NCTC. From left to right: Triad Stage Founding Artistic Director Preston Lane, Triad Stage Board Chair Dabney Sanders, Keynote Speaker Ben Cameron, and Dennis Quaintance (President, Quaintance Weaver).

Photo courtesy of NCTC. From left to right: Triad Stage Founding Artistic Director Preston Lane, Triad Stage Board Chair Dabney Sanders, Keynote Speaker Ben Cameron, and Dennis Quaintance (President, Quaintance Weaver).

After the keynote, NCTC Executive Director Angie Hays spent some time leading us through the process of generating unconference topics (for those who have never attended an unconference, it’s basically a giant brainstorming session where we share all the problems we’d like to solve and things we’d like to talk about, and then whittle that down to our sessions). Today’s sessions spanned a range of topics that included Creativity & Collaboration, Allowing Our Communities to Define Our Values, Sensory Friendly Performances, and Engaging Millenial Donors.

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The afternoon carried us out into the communities for tours of The Forge, Greensboro’s burgeoning makerspace, and The International Civil Rights Center and Museum, a cultural touchstone for our city and state.

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The Forge tour with Executive Director Joe Rotondi.

Day one is wrapping up with an extremely chic party at Proximity Hotel, which will still wind down early enough for us all to be back fresh-faced in the morning for what is guaranteed to be another challenging and rewarding day.

Tomorrow we’ll share the best news from Day 2, and later in the week we’ll also share some of our top line takeaways from our favorite sessions, and favorite general moments from the conference. Until tomorrow!

Photos and content from Opportunity Greensboro Fellow Alyx Bean and Marketing Manager Tiffany Albright.