Joy Boothe from North Carolina had this to say about We Did It Together:
“I am deeply moved and inspired by the opportunity I had yesterday to hear, learn from, and viscerally experience stories from the town of Jonesborough, Tennessee, brought to life in a phenomenal play, We Did It Together, A New Play at the McKinney Center. The play is showing next weekend too and I highly recommend it. Here’s how the process works: Locals share stories with one another about their lives, about their families and ancestors, about experiences that are pivotal to their home. Then those stories are woven together into a play that is performed by both community members, relatives of those who the stories are about, and professional theater folks. It was phenomenal. The performance was deeply moving, funny, inspiring, and provocative. Yet there was a different power present knowing that the play was about real people, locals, and their stories about the place where I was. I can’t explain the sensation of being in the audience with a 90 something year old woman who is watching her story played out with a young woman playing her as the nurse she was during World War II. Or to talk afterwards with one of the actors who was also the real-life son of the lead story about his parents and his father being the first Black Alderman, Ernest McKinney. What a blessing to hear Ernest Jr.’s stories about what his parents were like, what it was for him to live through integration in that town and how that connected to the parts that were in the play and the spirit of the town of Jonesborough. I’m feeling a lot of gratitude and also creative sparks of how and where else processes like this could be medicine for our communities. I’d love to see this process happening in every community, especially ones I’m connected to.”

We Did It Together

We Did It Together is the new original StoryTown community play which will have its premier at the McKinney Center on June 3 at 7:30 PM.

Set in the mid-twentieth century in Jonesborough, Tennessee, We Did It Together weaves compelling true-life stories in a new original play with show-stopping music and dance. The play focuses on ordinary people of this small community who accomplish remarkable feats as they are caught in extraordinary times. Teenage girls called to serve in the Cadet Nurse Corps during WWII; a doctor and his family in Cuba forced to flee as Castro’s rebel’s take over, leading them to find freedom in Northeast Tennessee; the election of Ernest McKinney, the first African American Alderman to serve in Jonesborough; a historic home filled with otherworldly guests, and the famous Rambo cattle drive on Greenwood Drive and Spring Street. We Did It Together explores the ways that the families and neighborhoods in this small Appalachian community have come together to accomplish great things.

This play is the fourth in a series of original community plays at the McKinney Center written by playwright Jules Corriere, who this month won and placed in eight international film festivals, including taking first place at the Hollywood Just 4 Shorts Screenplay Competition and is a finalist in the Los Angeles International Screenplay Awards. Her winning screenplay mirrors the style of We Did It Together, which celebrates the extraordinary lives of ordinary people.

Joining Corriere on the production are the original creative team members who directed, composed, and choreographed Jonesborough’s first community play, I Am Home, in 2011. Director Richard Owen Geer, composer Heather McCluskey, music director and accompanist Brett McCluskey, and choreographer Kevin Iega Jeff of Deeply Rooted Dance Company in Chicago, joined by local set designer J.J.Jeffers will bring this exciting play to life.

Tickets for We Did It Together are on sale now and available by calling the Historic Visitors Center at 423-753-1010 or online at General Admission tickets are $17 and Senior/Student tickets are $13. There are also group rates of $13. This production is sponsored by a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission and is part of the McKinney Center’s StoryTown Program.

Community Play Feature Story

Anni Zimmerman is playing the part of Irene Mitchell, who still lives in Jonesborough.  When asked how she felt about Irene’s life during the period portrayed, Anni replied that she felt sad for Irene.  When Irene was 10 years old she, along with her family, was forced to flee Cuba when Fidel Castro came to power.  Her family had been well-to-do in Cuba and now she found herself in a strange, new country that seemed very crowded.  Anni went on to say she was honored to be able to tell this woman’s story, a story she herself understood.  Although the circumstances were nowhere near as severe as Irene’s were, Anni moved around a lot when she was younger, attending 12 different schools between kindergarten and her senior year in high school.  Anni understood what it was like to leave friends and community behind and find herself in a new environment.  Anni is hoping to meet Irene and be able to ask her where she got the strength to help her get through a period in her generation that saw things no child should ever see. 

In talking about the play, Anni stated she has learned so much about the technical aspect required for a large production like this one.  Having only been in plays in high school, she learned what processes like table reads were.  She is impressed by all the volunteers coming together and really likes the musical scores that accompany these stories. 

Anni feels it is important these community stories be told so they are not forgotten.  So that people can realize the commonality of human experiences. Knowing how others have gotten through tough times, though the circumstances may be different, is reassuring and lets us know we are not alone.  History seems to have a tendency to record that which seems promising and good.  Often times the pain and suffering of the affected communities that accompanies these recorded histories are not to be found.  The stories of strength, perseverance, vision and coming together to not only survive, but succeed are just as, if not more, important histories as they are the ones that give us hope.