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Senior stories focus of new production

Stories from members of the senior center will be performed in the “Not All That I Carry” production on Nov. 16.


Early in 2017, members from the Jonesborough Senior Center shared stories from their lives as part of the new Jonesborough Story Initiative. A World War II veteran by the name or Vern Dauerty, who was a medic during the Battle of the Bulge, told playwright Jules Corriere after the interview, “This is the story I wanted to tell, but it’s not all that I carry.”  Corriere immediately knew this would be the title of the production, because it spoke for so many of the seniors who were interviewed.

“Not All That I Carry” is a production filled with the real-life harrowing, heartfelt and humorous stories that were told during the interview process, and will be performed at the senior center on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m.

The interviewing team included senior center staff members led by center Director Mary Sanger, along with videographer Ron Zucker, Jules Corriere from the McKinney Center, and Jimmy Neil Smith, founder of the International Storytelling Center.

Gabe Gray, from the Jonesborough Senior Center, took a leading role in the filming and archiving of the stories. The Heritage Alliance archives will house these important local narratives. Transcripts of the audio recordings were made by Pam Kruger.

Once these stories were transcribed, they were sent to Corriere, who then crafted a one-act play. Corriere worked with composer Heather McCluskey to develop original music for the production. The play will be performed by members of the Jonesborough Senior Center, as well as area youth.

Some of the stories include the romance between an American G.I. and a beautiful Irish girl who meet under difficult circumstances in London; a young couple who eloped when FDR was president, and are still married today; a soldier who served with Elvis Presley in Germany; women who kept their homes and family together during the Great Depression; and young men who served with the Civilian Conservation Corps. These and more are the stories of the “Greatest Generation” featured in the play.

Before and after the production, there will be a photo exhibit of all the storytellers featured in the play, including current portraits as well as photos from their past. In addition, there is a companion magazine with stories from every member who participated in the story collecting, along with photographs. The magazine will be available for purchase.

This project began when the Senior Center received two grants in 2017. One, through the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, which assisted with the purchasing of new sound equipment, and one through the Tennessee Arts Commission, which provided technical support for the project.

Tickets for the Nov. 16 show are $10 for adults, $5 for children 12 and under, and can be purchased through the Jonesborough Senior Center at (423) 753-4781 or through the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at (423) 753-1010. Seating is limited, and reservations are recommended.