Showing posts with label Birdell. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Birdell. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

LIARS BENCH TO PRESENT "BIRDELL" BY GARY CARDEN

Gary Carden, winner of the Literature Award for North Carolina, reminds us of his unforgettable play, Birdell, to be performed on November 15.


Liars Bench To Present "Birdell" at Mountain Heritage Center
Bobbie Curtis as 'Birdell'


On Thursday November 15 at 7pm at the Mountain Heritage Center there will be a performance of the dramatic monologue "Birdell" starring Bobbie Curtis. It is the story of a defiant mountain woman forced off her land by the TVA caused rising waters of Fontana Lake. This show will be a benefit for the Liars Bench organization. Consequently there will be an admission charge of $10.00. Tickets are available at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva and at the door the night of the show.


Although "Birdell" has plenty of pathos it's not just a dark, unrelenting tragedy. There is humor all the way through the play and some of the things that Birdell Tolly does in her garden just might shock a Southern Baptist preacher.

Actress Bobbie Curtis portrays Birdell Tolly's life and her battle against the federal government. Ms. Curtis' grandparents were forced off their land by the construction of the Bridgewater Dam which formed Lake James.
Curtis says “I feel that I am really in her shoes and that I have been there.”
Some of Carden's other plays Curtis has performed in are “The Bright Forever” and Ketti Frings “Look Homeward Angel.”

Claw-hammer guitar player Paul Iarussi will play old-time Southern Appalachian music.

The Mountain Heritage Center at WCU: 828.227.7129 or City Lights Bookstore in Sylva 586.9499

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The next presentation of The Liars Bench Show at WCUs Mountain Heritage Center will be Thursday December 13 at 7 pm with stories and songs of “An Old Time Appalachian Christmas.”

Contact for more information:
Gary Carden

gcarden498@aol.com

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Carden's plays premiered Highlands Performing Arts Center

Congratulations to Gary Carden!


His new plays premiered at the Highlands Performing Arts Center this past weekend. "It was an incredibly successful event," according to Gary and we all knew it would be. He just won a Fleming Award for short story ($500). He was unable to attend the awards ceremony in Augusta, GA because he was in rehearsals for his newest play"Signs and Wonders."


The performance in Highlands included another of Carden's plays, The Bright Forever. This is a story about Shelby Jean and a young evangelical preacher in rural Georgia. "The Bright Forever" is a true story of Fanny Crosby, a blind woman who wrote 8000 hymns, including Blessed Assurance. The two theatrical pieces present a contrasting view on how religion affects people’s lives and were directed by Ronnie Spilton.
Gary Carden has been described as a storyteller with the "ability to blend humor with poignancy, a blend that allows him to bring to the reader the great themes of human existence -- love, death, bravery, fear, desire, success, failure -- without having to beat the reader over the head with these themes" by the Smoky Mountain News. Gary is also a folklorist and a storyteller. He was raised by his grandparents in Jackson County in a house filled with the past.

He says, “I grew up listening to a great deal of foolishness about 'bad blood' (mine), black Irish curses (my grandfather's) and the evils of being 'left handed' (I couldn't play a musical instrument.) I grew up with the cows, June apple trees, comic books, the Farmers' Federation and Saturday movies. My first stories I told to my grandfather's chickens in a dark chicken-house when I was six years old. My audience wasn't attentive and tended to get hysterical during the dramatic parts.”

He graduated from Western Carolina University and taught literature and drama for 15 years, worked for the Cherokee Indians for 15 years and has spent the last 15 years as a lecturer and storyteller. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate degree from Western Carolina University in August 2008. Carden said in his commencement speech, "I couldn't get out of Appalachia quick enough" after his 1958 graduation from what was then known as Western Carolina College. "I wanted to be near theaters, book stores and nice restaurants. I wanted some culture," he said.

For 15 years, Carden worked as a teacher in the metropolitan areas of Atlanta, Charlotte and Raleigh, but as the years passed he said he became less and less happy.

Eventually, Carden came back to Sylva, NC for a visit and stopped at WCU's Mountain Heritage Center to hear a program by Southern Appalachian poet Jim Wayne Miller. Through the poems in his collection, "The Mountains Have Come Closer," Miller exhorts his readers to "come home."

"I took him literally, and I came home," Carden said. "I moved in my grandfather's house in Rhodes Cove, and for the past 40 years I've been trying - striving - to remember where I came from."

Other Carden plays and stories include "The Raindrop Waltz," "The Tannery Whistle," and "The Prince of Dark Corners."

NCWN West is grateful to Gary for the generous gift of his play, Birdell, which was presented in Murphy, NC in 2008. The ticket sales for this play were donated to NCWN West for the printing and publishing of Echoes Across the Blue Ridge. This is a good example of different forms of the arts community working together for the good of all.

Thank you, Gary, for your donation of the excellent play, Birdell.

 
 

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Gary Carden's play, Birdell, a smashing success for Netwest



Live theater came to Murphy, NC last night with Bobbie Curtis, actress from Lenoir, NC emerging from behind a black curtin as Birdell Tolley, octogenarian, outside her mountain cabin. At first she seemed a bit nutty, but in moments the audience was enamured with this small woman with the long white hair, telling in her delightful mountain twang, the story of her life beginning as a young girl falling in love with the man she married when she was an innocent fifteen.
Although we lacked a professional stage setup and had no back drop, Bobbie's props were perfectly placed for her act. Once Birdell was on stage and speaking, the missing set was forgotten and the listeners were caught up in the spell that is Birdell.
We learned about the early 20th century history of western North Carolina in that hour with Birdell.
I was asked after the play, "How did he know this woman? Did he interview her to know so many details about her life?"
Bobbie Curtis made the woman come alive on the stage and some thought she had to have been a real person, not a character made up in Carden's mind.
Others said, "It is hard to think a man can write about a woman and understand how she would have these deep feelings."
When my eyes filled and spilled, I thought it had to be because I'm an emotional mess these days, but I glanced around and saw others mopping away their tears as well. Within minutes, Bobbie Curtis changed the mood and had us laughing over some wild tale Birdy's husband used to tell. My favorite was the swinette he described to the TVA man.
We are all sorry Gary couldn't be with us last night. That would have been icing on the cake -- to hear how he came to write this play. Maybe we can persuade Gary to give us some background here on the blog.
Thank you, Gary and thank you Bobbie Curtis.
And many thanks to our Cherokee County Netwest members.
We'd love to hear from anyone who has seen Birdell. Please comment and tell us what you think.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bobbie Jayne Curtis fell in love with Birdell the first time she saw her


The following review of the one act play Birdell, is from The Messenger, and written by: Jaine Treadwell.
Published Jun 07, 2008 - 20:06:32 CDT.

Brundidge Historical Society presents 'Birdell'
By Jaine Treadwell for The Messenger

Bobbie Jaynes Triplett Curtis, a 75-year-old mountain woman, who is much like the octogenarian that she plays, will perform "Birdell"."I have a garden with summer vegetables and, last year, I couldn't find anybody to plow it for me, so I took a mattock and dug it by hand," Curtis said.
When Curtis saw "Birdell" for the first time, she was so taken with the character that she had to play her."She is the most fascinating character that I have ever played," said Curtis, who has recently begun performing the role of Fanny Crosby, the blind hymn writer. "I feel that I'm really in Birdy's shoes and that I have been there."
Birdell is an 86-year-old Appalachian woman who has spent way too much time alone and she is a little crazy.She sits on the porch and listens to the rain crows, naps and dreams of when she had a family that sang on the porch in the moonlight.When the play opens, 'Birdy' is in her front yard trying to kill a snake. She looks up to see the audience, which she takes for a crowd of people trying to buy her land. She immediately begins talking and, for the next hour, she recalls her entire life, including her marriage to a man named Westley who has been known to "stretch the blanket" and make his share of moonshine.
Steed said all eight members of the BHS storytelling committee read the script and fell in love with it."'Birdell is the story of a woman's life in a cabin in the Appalachian Mountains," Steed said."But 'Birdy' is much like the women of strength and character of the rural South during the Great Depression. She is one of us. She'll make you laugh and she'll tug at your heartstrings. She is Birdy, plain and simple."

NCWN West and The Learning Center are sponsoring Birdell on September 19, 7:00 PM at the Learning Center in Murphy.Tickets are available in Murphy North Carolina at Curiosity Shop Books and at the Murphy Library.
$12.00 adults and $6.00 for children. Call 828-389-4441 to order tickets by mail.