Professor’s play to debut Wednesday

Michael Bragg

“Promises,” a play written by professor Joel Williams of the Department of Theatre and Dance, will premiere Wednesday at the Valborg Theatre.

A cast of 13 Appalachian State University students and two members of the local community will perform in Williams’ production. The play is being directed by faculty member Derek Davidson.

“This has been a very interesting and exciting rehearsal process,” Davidson said. “It is rare to have the opportunity to work on a brand new, never-before-produced script with the playwright in residence, and I and the cast have enjoyed participating in the play’s evolution.”

“Promises” chronicles the fictional story of Joseph, a 50-year-old man who sets out on a long expedition to learn about his personal history. The North Shore Decoration Day Symposium, a series of special events which accompany the play, have been organized to help raise awareness of some of the main themes that Williams’ “Promises” sheds light on.

The story is set in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the middle of the 20th century, during the time the Fontana Dam was being built.

The building of this structure forced many people who lived in the area, known as the North Shore, to relocate.

The gravesites of the ancestors of these relocated families remain on the North Shore. Dedicated family members of a new generation continue to visit these gravesites, mourning a piece of their family history that is hidden behind a mass of stone and steel.

“I was moved by the dedication of these families and their commitment to honor and revere their forbears despite broken promises and all the difficulties they faced,” Williams said about why he wrote the play. “The play is my attempt to tell a good story that also highlights historic events and the sacrifices that were made by a few for the benefit of many.”

The show has been entered in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Judges could decide to advance “Promises” into a regional competition, an opportunity that would allow the actors, playwrights and directors involved to represent Appalachian on a regional and national stage.

“Promises” will be performed in the Valborg Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $8 for students and $15 for all other adults.

Story: BETHANY HOLDEN, Intern A&E Reporter