In 1974, Dolores Hydock was on a hunt for folklore for an in-depth paper she was researching for a college class at Yale University.
That unlikely journey from New Haven, Conn., led her up a winding mountain road in northeast Alabama and clear up on the top, she found what she was looking for – and some things she never dreamed she would find.
It was my “Impossible Story.” I couldn’t start it, couldn’t end it, and couldn’t flesh it out in the middle.
This Story had been sitting on my bookshelf for 24 years. It was hidden inside an academic paper, a folklore study of an Alabama mountain community where I had lived for the second half of my college senior year.
From January to April, 1974, I had collected personal histories, recipes, quilt patterns and superstitions from people living on Chandler Mountain in St. Clair County. All that information was bundled into a 120-page, footnoted, appendixed, bibliographied report.
As the years went by, and I began telling other stories, I kept looking at those two three-ring binders on the bookshelf. I knew there was a story in there somewhere, but I didn’t know how to get it out.
I mean, wow.
I was at the “Hiram” World Premiere at the CEPA in February 2016 and caught this performance the first time around. LaCindra McGowan, playing Bertha Mae in the production, and Tania Curry, playing Sister, tackle this challenging a capella piece toward the end of the show. It was magnificent then, and it was just as good yesterday during rehearsal.
Kathy McCoy, director of “Hiram”, said the group has been working the past few weeks with the play’s co-writer John Williams to shorten the performance to 45 minutes. It’s the maximum time allotted for participation in The Alabama Conference of Theatre (ACT), which will hold its Annual Community Theatre Festival (ACTFest ’17) on October 28-29, 2016 at the Wetumpka Depot Theatre, Wetumpka, Alabama.
The Player City Players will be performing in the competition at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 28 against other community theaters throughout the state. The winners advance to Southeastern Conference, the largest community theatre conference in the country.
There’s a lot on the line this Friday night.
On Oct. 14, the 5-2 Pell City Panthers will host undefeated rival Oxford (8-0) in a Class 6A, Region 7 showdown. Oxford sits at the top of the standings, two games ahead of second place PCHS.
It’s a chance for Coach Keith Etheredge, in his first year with the Panthers, to make a powerful statement about his arrival in 6A play, and a chance for Pell City’s 2016-2017 team to topple a juggernaut.
And you can bet they’ll be hyped up.
Last Thursday, as Confederate Railroad’s bus was on it’s way to the Center, I stood in the CEPA lobby with my phone in my hand going over a text I had just received. It was a list of 8-10 items that were immediate needs for the show that night.
That really doesn’t sound pressing enough. Let me rephrase.
This was stuff that needed to be done or the world would literally end in fiery doom.
You have probably seen posters around town for our event this Thursday featuring Confederate Railroad and their two special guests: Two Halos Shy and Melissa Lee. Here’s a little more about them…
A long, long time ago, I was in concert band. I played the bassoon. It’s terribly difficult to learn and looks like telephone pole waving around above the clarinet section. I was told, back then, that when I played it poorly I “sounded like a dying whale.”
I once tried to impress a girl by playing it for her, but when I think about it now, I’m certain it was the least attractive instrument in the entire band. You had to use something called a “seat strap” to play it. I remember other terrible phrases associated with it, too, like “oil the joints” and “soak the reed.”
• 6 p.m.
• Pell City Center for Education and Performing Arts
• Free and Open to the Public
On Sept. 29, join the St. Clair County Extension and the City of Pell City as they present Invisible Scars: Hope for Warriors with Hidden Wounds. The film will screen at 6 p.m., and the showing is free and open to the public.
On Thursday, Sept. 15, I was proud to host the launch for the CEPA Advisory Council. It was truly wonderful to see those with an investment in the Pell City Center for Education and Performing Arts turn out to assist us in shaping the future.
During the discussion, members of the community voiced opinions that really focused on four primary issues: programming, marketing, facility improvements and community investment. Take a moment and click here to see some of the ideas presented. There are some incredible, imaginative opportunities in there.
Over the course of the meeting, I not only learned a great deal about what CEPA means to the community, but I also learned that the will and drive of those close to the Center are a boundless resource of positive inspiration. At this point, especially after last night, we aren’t going to slow down, and we aren’t going to say “We can’t do it.”
I’m also going to take a moment here to credit the people that made the Advisory Council launch event happen – Casey Lauren Engelbrecht, Austin Nichols, Kelcy Williams and Jones Willingham – as well as an amazing Board of Director’s that has an uncompromising vision for CEPA – Carol Pappas, Bob Barnett, Matthew Pope, Henry A Fisher and Randy Mason.
See you at the show – Jeff
But as we look back at our planning for the Fall 2016 Season for the Pell City Center for Education and Performing Arts, we noticed one thing was missing.