Northeast State Theater stages Oedipus Rex Oct. 13-16

An abandoned child. A murdered king. A deadly secret.

Northeast State Community College Theater Department will bring these classic elements of Sophocles' tragedy to life next month in a fierce and visually arresting production of Oedipus Rex.

A standard in most English and Theater classes, Sophocles' tragic story of love and doom is one of the first family tragedies with unspeakable drama. Set in classical Greece with the actors using masks, this ambitious production tells the story in a striking style.

"This is the most ambitious technical production we have ever attempted," said Brad McKenzie, the play's director. "With the masks, lighting, and entire production, we are raising the bar of expectation for what an audience can expect to see in community college theater."

The play opens with King Oedipus facing a terrible curse has befallen the city of Thebes. He sends his brother-in-law, Creon, to seek the advice of Apollo and restore order. Creon informs Oedipus that the curse will be lifted if the murderer of Laius, the former king of Thebes, is punished. Learning of Apollo's counsel, Oedipus dedicates himself to the discovery and prosecution of Laius's murderer. He questions unwilling citizens including the blind prophet Teiresias who gives him a warning that the new king may not be able to disregard. While his wife Jocasta begs him to ignore the prophecy, Oedipus obsessively seeks to learn why he was abandoned as an infant and adopted by another family. His search leads him to a series of horrifying revelations about Laius's death, his wife Jocasta, their children, and his fate.

Sophocles' masterful work of characters and chorus plays out through lighting and sound. As the actors portray the characters, the production's technical artistry creates the psychological anguish and tragedy through vivid effects making this an unforgettable theatrical experience.

Play performances are Oct. 13 – 16 at 7:30 p.m. and a matinee showing at 2 p.m. on Oct. 16. All performances will be staged in the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts (map) on the College's main campus, 2425 Highway 75, adjacent to Tri-Cities Regional Airport.

Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for non-Northeast State students, seniors, military veterans, and emergency personnel. Performances are free to current Northeast State students, but they must pick up their tickets at the box office. Tickets can be purchased online now at www.NortheastState.edu or at the theater's box office one hour prior to the show.

The house open 30 minutes before show time. For more information, please call Northeast State Theater at 423.354.2479 or 423.323.0218.


Northeast State's Oedipus Rex showcases students' technical design talent

The Northeast State Community College Theater Department takes a bold step forward in live theater production with the Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex debuting in October.

The production unites Sophocles' ancient story with postmodern staging to create an elaborate drama unlike anything attempted by Northeast State Theater.

"The costumes, the masks, and the single set lend credence to the old Greek style," said Brad McKenzie, the director of Oedipus. "There is a lot of work for the acting direction which is as ambitious as the design."

The play opens with King Oedipus seeking a way to lift a curse on the city of Thebes. The solution given to him from the god Apollo sets in motion a series of tragic revelations about Oedipus and his life.

"We are trying to appeal to a young college-age crowd," he says. "We really want to open up the possibilities of the live theater experience at the community college."

McKenzie and students Adam Honeycutt, Richard Curtis, and Derek Smithpeters began formulating the play's technical aspects earlier this year. The technical capabilities of the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts Theater make this one of the department's most anticipated productions ever.

"It is fantastic to have student designers spend this much time with a production," says Elizabeth M. Sloan, instructor and director of the Northeast State Theater program. "It is a lot of hard work, and as an actor, I'm excited to see the production come together with the cast and these creations."

Curtis found a formula online to create the masks using a combination of joint compound, boiled linseed oil, tissue paper, flour, and glue. The result yields sturdy flexible masks that hold paint and absorb light.

"I looked at the classic designs and developed a look we wanted," says Curtis, mask designer and assistant scene designer. "I took Brad's concept and put a modern spin on the masks."

In the tradition of Greek theater, each character wears a mask. The twist comes through the stage effects of lighting and sound that amplify the dramatic tension and gives the audience a surround-sound feel of a character's emotional state. Honeycutt worked behind the scenes as stage manager on Dracula and The Wizard of Oz. He creates the sound cues in Oedipus to work in concert with the dialogue and lighting design.

"We are all pretty competitive," says Honeycutt of his colleagues. "I've learned a ton of stuff from Brad."

Creating the deadly gashes and damaged bodies falls to Smithpeters and his skill with stage makeup. As it turns out, an artist can create the bloody effects of murder and mutilation with many common household products.

"We use liquid latex, coffee grounds, and oatmeal," said Smithpeters. "You work with the textures and add some color."

Curtis, Honeycutt, and Smithpeters are students and more, according to Sloan. All three have put in long hours for productions at Northeast State Theatre. This project, she says, showcases their talents on a grand scale.

"We have one of the best technical departments of any college theater program in this region," says Sloan. "I am delighted and amazed at the imagination and quality the students are putting into this production."

A Northeast Status alumnus, McKenzie earned a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Mississippi in theater design before bringing his talents back to Blountville. His work earned him a design award from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He hopes this production could find its way to a nomination for the Kennedy Center Awards next year.

Opening night for Oedipus Rex is Oct. 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the WRCPA. Performances continue Oct. 13 – 16 at 7:30 p.m. and a matinee showing at 2 p.m. on Oct. 16. All performances will be held in the WRCPA Theater on the College's main campus.

Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for non-Northeast State students, seniors, military veterans, and emergency personnel. Performances are free to current Northeast State students, but those tickets must be picked up at the box office. Tickets can be purchased online now at www.NortheastState.edu or at the theater's box office one hour prior to the show.

Northeast State Theatre follows up the fall semester with the holiday performance of The Littlest Angel (rights pending) in December. The Christmas play doesn't give the techies any time off. Sets must be built, sound cues rehearsed, and the next show goes forward.

"We've set a pretty high standard," says McKenzie. "This is going to be a fun semester."

Elizabeth M. Sloan, Director of Theatre


American Civil War expert to lecture at Northeast State

Noted American Civil War historian Dr. David Goldfield will lecture on "The Tragedy of the American Civil War" Sept. 26 at noon at Northeast State's Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts.

Goldfield, the Robert Lee Bailey Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, is the author of the highly acclaimed American Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation. He has been praised for his new and provocative interpretation of the American Civil War era and his lecture will feature a large cast of characters including Walt Whitman, Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Stephens, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Frederick Douglass. Goldfield said the lecture would not be the usual "battles and leaders" account, but a broad cultural and literary history with many connections to today's events.

For more information about Dr. Goldfield, visit his Web site at www.davidgoldfield.us.

The Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts is located on Northeast State's Blountville campus, 2425 Highway 75. For information, contact Jim Kelly 423.279.7669 orjpkelly@NortheastState.edu. 


Northeast State at Elizabethton offers RAD self-defense course

ELIZABETHTON – A free course designed to give women the basic tools of self-defense and confidence to use them begins this month at Northeast State Community College in Elizabethton. Women can learn the art of self-defense and survival through the Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D) course offered at the Northeast State at Elizabethton teaching site on Sept. 28, Oct. 5 and 12 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The R.A.D. System is a comprehensive, women-only course that teaches awareness, prevention, risk reduction and risk avoidance, while progressing on to the basics of hands-on defense training. The course includes lecture, discussion and self-defense techniques, suitable for women of all ages and abilities.

The R.A.D. program was developed through the contributions of instructors across the United States and Canada. More than 250,000 women have attended a R.A.D. Basic Physical Defense course. Northeast State at Elizabethton is located at 386 Highway 91 across from the Elizabethton Municipal Airport.

The course is free to women ages 13 years and older. Registration is required. To register or learn more, contact course instructor Francis Canedo at 423.279.3694 or ffcanedo@NortheastState.edu.


Jazz aficionado Wayne Goins plays Northeast State Sept. 22

Jazz musician and professor Dr. Wayne Goins deliver the seminal jazz music at Northeast State Community College on Sept. 22 at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. to lecture and perform selection of his jazz material at the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts.

Goins' numerous jazz albums reveal a musician of deep feeling, unassailable generosity, and exquisite taste. He will both lecture about the intricacies of this American music and play selections from his formidable career in jazz.

Critics called his Chronicles of Carmela a "breathtakingly beautiful" jazz recording. Goins composed, arranged, and produced all 11 songs and gave his musicians plenty of room to improvise. On the opening tracks, Goins, tenor saxophonist Craig Treinen, and pianist Bill Wingfield conjure images of Wes Montgomery and/or young George Benson sitting in with Atlantic-era John Coltrane and McCoy Tyner. His collaborations are extraordinary with such jazz contemporaries as saxophonist Bobby Watson, organist Jimmy McGriff and many others.

Goins has experience in Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta, conducting jazz ensembles and teaching guitar at Morehouse College, Emory University, and Kennesaw State University. Goins authored the award-winning book, A Biography of Charlie Christian (2005), as well as The Jazz Band Director's Handbook (2003), and Emotional Response to Music: Pat Metheny's Secret Story (2001).

In addition to being an outstanding composer and guitarist, Goins is Director of the Jazz Studies at Kansas State University and co-author of A Biography of Charlie Christian, Jazz Guitar's King of Swing. In 2006 Goins published The Wise Improvisor, a college textbook on jazz improvisation. Goins founded Little Apple Records, his own record label, and released West Coast SwingStandard FareSmokin' at The Oak BarBluesin' With The B3Home…Cookin!, and Chronicles of Carmela, released in early 2011.

Goins writes for Jazz Ambassador and Jazz Inside magazine, where he has written extensive articles. Goins' first Little Apple release since 2006, Chronicles of Carmela, showcases not only his guitar but also his writing chops. "Carmela" is Wayne's guitar, and he says in the liners that he drew inspiration from her to write the music in this record. Don't miss the chance to hear Goins talk about the uniquely American musical style and hear a guitar style from one of the genre's most prolific artists.

The lecture and performance are free and open to the public. The event is sponsored by the College's Cultural Activities Committee. Learn more about Wayne Goins at his web sitewww.waynegoins.com.

Jim Kelly, Assistant Professor, History and Humanities
jpkelly@NortheastState.edu / 423.279.7669
Dr. Janice H. Gilliam, President
jhgilliam@NortheastState.edu / 423.323.0201