By LISA WHALEY
Jonesborough’s ongoing ode to small-town communities was greeted with laughter, tears and applause Friday night as “Life Lines” kicked off its six-night run in Tennessee’s oldest town.
“What’s really incredible is while these stories come from here, they are universal,” said local playwright Jules Corriere directly after the nearly sold-out show.
“If you love your community, come to this show because you will see your community under lights on stage. Your people. Your stories.”
The play, part of the StoryTown initiative dedicated to bringing together people of all ages and backgrounds, features a new collection of memories shared by local residents.
“We call it community performance because it’s really a community performing itself,” Corriere continued. “We have 45 cast members. We’ve got a dozen story collectors. We have transcriptionists and then we have dozens and dozens and dozens of people who share their stories every year to make these plays happen.”
Friday night, the audience stepped back to early Butler and old-time Jonesborough. They learned about family struggles, small town joys and disasters and the ongoing resilience of small communities.
“It is about carrying on through the generations and learning from your elders,” audience member Halie Tankersley from Kingsport shared during a break.
Other audience members were equally enthralled.
“It’s very entertaining,” said Kevin Collins, also from Kingsport.
Most of the Jonesborough stories were new to him, he admitted. “I am familiar with the Butler story, from being around the region.”.
But that didn’t lessen his enjoyment.
“The teacher (portrayed by Corriere) that lived with the family,” he said. “That was really, really good.”
Debora Collins, also from Kingsport, believed these stories, whether you were familiar with them or not, were truly universal.
“I loved it. I had to keep wiping the tears from my eyes,” she said.
For Jonesborough Alderwoman Virginia Causey, however, the stories were special because she knew everyone involved.
“I think the play is great,” she said. “The part I like the best was about Marcy Hawley (and her late husband, R.I.C.), because I remember the day when that happened. I was there during all that.
“It shows the heart of Jonesborough.”
Life Lines will continue Friday through Sunday, March 6-8. For more information, visit Jonesborough.com/lifelines. The production is sponsored in part by a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission.